In 2001, at the age of 8, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I stayed at the Children's Hospital in London, ON for 8 months. My treatment plan consisted of nothing but chemotherapy.
Being only 8, I was awful at swallowing pills and hated needles. I had to get blood drawn once a day so to make that, among other things easier, a double luumen hickman line was surgically implanted in my chest.
Unlike others who experience minimal side effects during chemo, I got just about everything. During one of my chemo sessions I suffered a collapsed lung as a result of an exaggerated case of whooping cough. I was in the PICU for four days. Needless to say, my lung capacity isn't as great as it could be.
My treatment was completed on March 18, 2002 and I have been cancer free ever since. I made it out of my battle luckier than some...for one thing, I made it out. I fought tooth and nail, blood, sweat, and tears, but I made it. But just because I did, doesn't mean that other people don't and doesn't mean that I don't know anyone who hasn't. Most of the friends I made at the hospital died because of their illness...the kids who were my best friends during the scariest time of my life are no longer around to share the success of remission with. It's heartbreaking. While I may have made it through the war with full cognitive and physical capabilities, there are still scars. I have physical scars that I can easily show people, but I have a lot of emotional scars that I can't even begin to explain.
It doesn't matter how much time has passed, a cancer survivor never forgets their journey and the people they met along the way. I'm not sure if my fellow survivors can relate, but speaking for myself, I can tell you that I think about cancer more than the average person does. I guess I can't help it...no matter what I'm doing or what kind of day I'm having, my mind always wanders to the topic, either for a minute or for a good portion of the day.
There are so many wonderful organizations designed to help people struggling with cancer. Cancer is not an easy thing to deal with - whether you're the patient or a family member/friend of the patient, it will have an effect on you for the rest of your life. It is my hope that your own experience with cancer, whatever it may be, effects you enough that you will choose to help others who have been in your situation to see the silver lining and to find their own source of strength and courage.