30 Stories in 30 Days
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. For the next 4 weeks, we will post stories written by cancer survivors, caregivers and friends for our 30 Stories in 30 Days campaign. We hope their perspectives and insight will help others along their journey.
At 26 years old, all seemed well. A great job, a house, married: life felt blessed. Then in just one day none of that mattered anymore. An oral cancer diagnosis stopped everything in its tracks. Initially overcome by the shock, my first thought was “this is it then.” Some time ago that surely would have been the case. But modern medicine is an amazing thing. A surgery followed by a long recovery, but I bounced back. Remission for 2 years—and an eventful 2 years it was. My son was born in those 2 years, so that made my second diagnosis that much more devastating. But also made me that much more motivated. I’m not just fighting for me, this isn’t about me anymore.
So another surgery followed. I bounced back rather quickly, and all seemed well again. For another year it was. Then it happened again. Another surgery followed by radiation. Being honest—this was hard, painful, and felt like an eternity. But with my son as motivation, I made it through. Feeling almost 100% like myself. Only to make it just 6 months before another setback. Now cancer spread to my jaw bone and a major surgery was in order followed by more radiation and also chemotherapy this time. Scared but still refusing to give up, this was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
find your purpose, whatever it may be. Use it as motivation. And just keep going
I’m now over 2 years in remission. Everyday life has changed in some ways. Eating can sometimes feel more like a chore now than a pleasure, but I’m still here. Not just here, but living a good life.
I try to focus on all the things I am able to do. Not the things that I can’t. Things I enjoy like going to live sporting events, concerts, camping, going for long walks just name a few. But mostly just waking up every day and watching my son grow is what I enjoy most. And that, I will never take for granted.
If I could give one piece of advice to somebody about to or going through a similar journey. It would be to find your purpose, whatever it may be. Use it as motivation. And just keep going. Because I’m not just surviving. I am living.