When I look back to the time I spent as a six and seven year old, I realize that my life would be completely different had I not ever lived with stage three ovarian cancer. It has left an impact on me and the life I have lived from the gap it put in my social life, to my physical appearance, and perhaps added to the strain of protection my parents have for me. It was because I was diagnosed there were more things that came to manifest and proved to be more difficult and painful in memory than any surgery I faced.
There was no way I could be considered the average elementary school student. I was different from my boy’s hair to the peculiar, healthy-conscious lunch I had to bring to school due to my parents choice to change my diet. It was a decision made for me with my health in mind, and while it did keep me healthy, having past every post-cancer health evaluation test since, it brought other hardships.
Food is a social construct. Eating is a social activity. People come together over food, whether they bond and get to know each other or have a verbal brawl. They were brought together over food. Every time I brought my lunch to school, I felt like the oddball, an irritated one at that.
After having missed so many months of school, I no longer felt socially accepted or like I mattered despite having been home schooled. I saw the world as something I had to fit into. I would do whatever I could to make up for lost time. This meant aspiring towards academic excellence, being nice to everyone I liked and disliked, and enduring the pain of my eating habits. With growing hair on my head and stitches forever tattooed on my skin I tried my hardest to feel as if I belonged.
Survival put me on a path of learning many things through experience. Through my experience as a cancer survivor, I have come to value time and results. When my doctor told me I could go back to school again, I could see the sunlight through the layers of depressing hospital walls. It was there on I began to even value school and my education. Where many others probably did not, I loved school. I have come to dislike wasting time and found that I will not be happy, truly, without having accomplished something and using my time here, in the land of living, effectively. In my reality, time is precious. How and who you spend it with is precious. I value courage in being one’s self and staying true to who you are for one’s own sake and no one else, no matter what others think or feel. I rejected wearing a wig to school
When I was bald because it felt like I would be lying to the world and it did not feel me. Soon, I left the bandana at home and courageously went to school with little hair. Cancer also taught me to value positivity. I learned embracing the small things that are great make all the difference in creating a happier world in your eyes, and with many of the experiences I had to face post surgeries, I had plenty of practice. Additionally, I came to see that I did matter and belong here, just as everyone else did. It took some time for me to discover that I did matter, that I was love. I spent a lot of time learning this. In doing so I even make the effort in making sure others understand that they do. My thoughts came to reflect the world around me as I began to encounter others who doubted their significance. With friendship, I helped in making sure that they felt they understood that they did, by offering as much acceptance and assurance as I would have like to have had growing up.
Happiness is paramount in my reality. I refuse to settle for occupations that do not make me happy and thanks to Survivor Vision Textbook Scholarship I am able to pay for my college textbooks enabling me to offset some of my college expenses. I plan to do many things in the world leaving a positive mark. I could have easily not lived past seven from the stage-three tumor I carried, but I did, and this allowed me to grasp that I do in fact belong here. And it is here that I will shape the reality around me into memorable one.