Wednesday Wisdom | Lessons from a Cancer Diagnosis | Seersucker Sass

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom | Lessons from a Cancer Diagnosis

This Saturday, February 28, will mark four years since my cancer diagnosis.  Instead of my typical Wednesday Wisdom advice, I wanted to talk about some lessons I learned from my experience with cancer.  I really love the picture below because it was taken less than two weeks before my diagnosis, and my life was so carefree and fun.
 
 
The day I was diagnosed started out like any other day.  I went to my classes and had Chik-fil-A for lunch with one of my best friends in our student center.  I remember getting a call from the general surgeon who had taken a biopsy on my arm and letting it go to voicemail because it was so loud in the student center, and I knew it was one of those calls to let you know that you had a good result.  I tried to call back, and they told me I had just missed the surgeon, but that she would call me back shortly.
 
I went on about my day, thinking nothing of it.  I went to the library with my sorority little sister to study for a big Econ test that I had the next day.  When the general surgeon called, I was actually kind of excited because I hate Econ.  But then the words "cancer" and "treat quickly and aggressively" and "surgery" and "lymph nodes" were thrown around.  And I didn't know what to do, so I just laid my head on the table and then texted my parents, who promptly called me freaking out, my dad in God knows what time zone.  And then I just cried.  I was twenty, I was pretty, and I was going to be a lawyer... Cancer did not happen to girls like me.  It just didn't.  (That thought is the main reason that I've started speaking so openly about my battle... I want people to realize that cancer can happen to anyone.)
 
A co-worker was diagnosed with cancer recently, and I was sitting on the other side of the cubicle wall when she got the call.  I immediately felt so ill for her that I thought I was going to have to be sent home.  And my heart broke in half, because I knew not only what she was going through, but how my little must have felt being in the room with me and watching a metaphorical car crash.
 
I give my little Ashley so much credit, though.  She saved the day.  It was late and anything that could have been fun became difficult because my arm still wasn't functioning properly from the biopsy.  We eventually just went to Wal-Mart and goofed off and took ridiculous pictures and then went to Cookout where we sat and gorged ourselves on onion rings and Diet Cokes for hours.  And as awful as it was, it's one of the best memories I have with Ashley.
 
[photo credit:  My Sweet Savannah]
 
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my experience was to love everyone.  Not a selective love, but a love like Jesus loves us.  When I was dealing with things, I was horrible.  I was withdrawn, I was snarky, I was an all around unpleasant person.  I refused to tell my sisters what was going on, but they loved me anyway.  Once, my sorority sister Kayla heard me talking about having a PET Scan and pulled me aside, basically demanding to know what was going on.  She had been through her own cancer battle and ended up being my roommate my junior year.  Whenever I was going to need to do something that I physically couldn't do or didn't have the energy to do, she maneuvered around and saw that it got done without anyone realizing anything was wrong. Another sorority sister was super interested in medicine and used to ask to massage my scar for me.  Some days I was just flat out unlovable, but the people around me continued to love me.  That's the biggest piece of advice I could ever give anyone - love everyone.  You really never know what anyone is going through.
 
For anyone that is facing cancer or a chronic illness, it's important to accept that your life is different, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing.  After my surgery, I lost most of the range of motion in my right arm.  (I finally gave in and went to physical therapy a year later.)  It was hard to brush, straighten, or braid my hair.  So I accepted that, and I adapted.  I was living off campus for awhile, so I sucked it up and parked in handicap so that I could go out to my car and switch my books out in between classes instead of trying to carry a bunch of heavy books.  They think that my cancer was caused by a medication that I take, so I went from taking the highest dose every four weeks to the lowest dose every six weeks.  That was rough at first, but I eventually had to accept it and move on.  I don't think that accepting that your life is different is admitting defeat, but instead, accepting that sometimes you're dealt a bad hand, and making the best of it.
 
 
 
The biggest thing I learned from my cancer battle was to be resilient.  Cancer is a horrible, awful disease, and I learned very quickly that it does not discriminate.  My doctors and friends told me to take time off from school during my diagnosis.  But I absolutely refused.  My GPA suffered, but I knew I needed the stability of classes and a work schedule.  I love Relay for Life because of their motto "Fight Back!"  I used to hate the scar on my arm because I felt like cancer had literally taken a piece of my arm and all of my confidence away from me, but now I wear it proudly.  It's a daily reminder that I won my battle.
 
I want to say thank you so much for reading my story about my diagnosis and lessons learned.  I promise tomorrow's post will be much more light hearted :)  Have a very happy Wednesday!
 
XX,
 
SS

41 comments:

  1. Your story should remind us all that our lives can change in a brief moment. Very inspired & praying that you remain cancer-free!

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    1. Thank you so much, Miss Janice! You are always so sweet :)

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  2. You are a strong, beautiful, powerful young woman and the things you have done are amazing! The world is a better place because of people with attitudes like yours!
    xx, Mikkaela

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    1. Thank you so much, love! Your words warm my heart :)

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  3. You're story reminds me so much of a friend who lost his battle. You're words of encouragement to anyone suffering from an illness are so true. I'm glad that you seemed to stay strong throughout your battle is amazing. I hope you continue to stay strong through the rest of the trials in your life. xx��

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    1. So very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Thank you so much for your kind words.

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  4. You've come so far since your diagnosis, so happy to hear you are healthy and stayed positive during this whole ordeal.
    -Alex
    www.monstermisa.blogspot.com

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  5. Oh my goodness. I love you even more after reading this! You're so beautiful and have such a wonderful outlook on life. My motto is stay strong and I know you'll do that!
    xx.
    Brittany
    lifelikeatwentysomething.blogspot.com

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  6. YOU ARE SO STRONG!!!! Thank you for sharing this with us!!
    xox
    Morg

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  7. Thank you for opening up and sharing such a personal story. I can't even begin to imagine what that felt like, but I'm so happy you are on the other side of everything! One of my parents just recently kicked cancer to the curb, and I know how great it is to celebrate!

    So inspired and humbled by you today! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! So happy to hear that one of your parents beat cancer!! Thinking of you and your family :)

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  8. Wow thank you for sharing your story with us! You are so strong! That is something no one ever wants to go through, but you fought it and won! So happy to hear you are healthy and strong!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Shannon! You are so sweet and thoughtful :)

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  9. You are so strong and inspired Thank you for the very personal post http://lachiquitamissi.com

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    1. Thanks for reading and for such sweet feedback! Xo

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  10. I'm in tears and have chills. Had no idea you were a cancer survivor and I am blown away by your strength and your courage. I loved your honesty in this post and how you described your up and downs with your mood. Seriously put things in perspective to me and I loved how you said that we should love everyone. I think sometimes we lose sight of that and we are so caught up in ourselves and I know, me personally I can tend to be dramatic over the small things and can be so unpleasant to be around sometimes, but this really puts things into perspective. You're so inspirational and I love this heart to hear post and you are such a beautiful person inside and out.

    www.lastylenysmile.blogspot.com

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    1. Linda, thank you so much for such a heartfelt and thoughtful comment. You have made my day! Xo

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  11. Your battle really has given you so much wisdom, I am so inspired every time I read a blog post written by you & your post always make me super thankful for everything I have been blessed with :)

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

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    1. Jordyn, you are always so kind and thoughtful! Thank you so much for always being sweet and supportive :) I'm blessed to know you!!

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  12. You are so brave and so beautiful. Such an inspiration. So much love to you! xoxo, Camille

    The Lovely Theory

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    1. Thank you so much, Camille! You are so sweet :)

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  13. I absolutely love this post, so inspiring! xoxo

    http://midoriline.com/blog/

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  14. I absolutely love this post, so inspiring! xoxo

    http://midoriline.com/blog/

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  15. Such a great and inspiring post!!! Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Abby
    www.champagneplans.com

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read :) You are so sweet, Abby!

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  16. Oh girl I have chills and I'm crying at my desk right now!!! You are so inspiring and I know that this will reach a lot of people dealing with something very similar!! xo, Biana - BlovedBoston

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    1. B, you are so sweet! Sorry for smudging up your makeup this morning! Hope you have a day as wonderful as you are, lady :)

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  17. This is an absolutely amazing story. I was in a funky mood earlier and this just made me reset everything and think about life differently.

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    1. Alissa, you are so sweet! Thank you :) I have been in a funky mood lately... maybe it's this depressing weather? Regardless, I hope your day got better!!

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  18. You are a brave young women, you should be infinitely proud of yourself. Thank you for sharing this.


    xo

    Michaela
    http://michaelajeanblog.com
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/MichaelaJeanArt

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  19. I just stumbled upon your blog and am so darn happy I did. What a story. You are so beautiful and inspiring and BRAVE to share this all. It really can happen to anyone, and stories like yours are a great reminder to never take anything for granted. Wishing you all the best, and excited to have found your sweet blog! xx

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    1. Emily, you are so sweet! Thank you so much for your kind words :)

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  20. Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm trying not to cry at work. I have a co-worker's niece who is going through cancer treatments again at the age of 4 and it reminds you to constantly remember that cancer doesn't discriminate and to remember to love on everyone. You are such a fighter and an inspiration. Keep kicking cancer's butt!

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    1. Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to hear that. I will be praying for her family! Thank you for your kind words :)

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  21. You are incredible and an inspiration!! Thank-you for sharing your story with the blogging community! I consider myself so lucky to have met you through the blogging community. <3

    xoxo A
    www.southernbelleintraining.com

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  22. What a brave and thoughtful post..you are an inspiration!

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