A cancer diagnosis will change your life. It will make you question everything. At least that is what it did for me. When I was 22 I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Sometimes I still sit here thinking "Wait, I had CANCER? No, not me, I'm too young." I still get shocked sometimes when I think about it, even four years later. The moment of diagnosis becomes a pivotal moment in the life of a cancer patient. In that one moment you go through so many different emotions. I used to think I knew how I would handle cancer if I ever got it... but I was surprised how it actually effected me when it happened.
By far, the hardest part of cancer for me was the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor. I know that might sound strange... I mean I should be excited to be cancer free right? But cancer has changed me. I began to define myself as "the cancer patient". I didn't know how to go back to "normal life" and move forward like my cancer fight was...over. I had actually found comfort in fellow cancer patients and I was almost sad to leave that part of my life. I also felt guilty. Guilty that I was cured and many of my friends were/ are still fighting. Life just seemed different. But I know I am so blessed to still have my life... and I feel like I need to use my life for something great. But nothing seems great enough. Nothing that I think to do with my life seems to be worthy of the time that I've been given. It's a process.
Recently I have just been trying to devote my time to my new marriage (David and I were married in September 2010) and starting our life together. Raising awareness for colon cancer has also become a big part of my life. I am the Young Adult Representative for Lynch Syndrome International, a non-profit organization that raises awareness for the genetic cancer mutation called Lynch Syndrome (something I have), and this position has given me multiple opportunities to share my story. There are so many things that I hope to accomplish in the future but most of all I want to just enjoy my time with my family and friends.
I also made a decision a little over a year ago to change my career path. This fall (2012) I began pursuing my PhD in Basic Medical Science and Cancer Biology in hopes of becoming a research scientist one day. The idea of being able to devote my time to trying to find a cure for cancer really has made me feel purposeful again and I'm so exciting to begin learning all that I need to about this field.
I hope you enjoy my blog as I go through the motions of trying to reclaim my life after cancer.