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5 Life Lessons From a 23-Year-Old Double Cancer Survivor

That excitement, that journey is found when we embrace an opportunity and, even without knowing where the chips will fall, saying yes to it.
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My time growing up was unorthodox.

I was born with HIV in 1992. Given the medical information and prognoses was at the time, the doctors told my parents I wouldn't live to see the year 2000.

In 1999, I'm diagnosed with Hodgkin"s lymphoma and the doctors consider this the beginning of the end.

In 2000 I kick that cancer's ass.

A lot happens in between, but in 2008, seven years later, I'm diagnosed with that same cancer.

It didn't go as easily as the first time, from the cancer spreading to my spine, to undergoing an autonomous stem cell treatment that gave me a 50/50 shot at life.

Needless to say, I saw the turn of the millennium, and I kicked cancer's ass. Twice. Go me!

You're Not Guaranteed Anything
Whether that's another day or a steady job with a steady form of income.

It can all end. Right now.

But it's not about the doom and gloom. This sense of finality can spur great things. Which brings me to my next lesson.

Say "Yes" More Often
Our culture is very risk averse. When growing up, seeds are planted into our minds that we need to chase down security and stability.

While I get and respect that, this can't be in spite of a lifestyle that keeps you doing the same all over again.

We're not made for that. We're made to experience, to wander, to get lost and find our way back.

That excitement, that journey is found when we embrace an opportunity and, even without knowing where the chips will fall, saying yes to it.

With this comes:

Say "No" More Often
You don't have to do the things you don't want to do.

There are some exceptions, obviously, but these make up about 10 percent of all the things we invest our time in and say yes, when we wanted to say no.

I get it. You don't want to disappoint, and that's admirable.

But we're only given 24 hours and, if we're lucky, some decades on this planet. If the time spent can be spent towards things you actually enjoy doing, you owe it to yourself to respect and uphold that.

Smile More
And the world will start smiling back. You'll see.

I feel like we underestimate the power that a simple smile can hold.

If true and sincere, it can light you up from the inside.

Don't Carry Guilt Around
We have a tendency to feel guilty about things. Big and small. And we also have the tendency to carry that with us for months, years, decades and even lifetimes.

This wears us down. Not only does it gnaw at the love and respect we have for ourselves, it keeps you a prisoner to the past.

Give yourself grace. Forgive yourself. Get closure. Call people up if that needs to happen in order for you to get it.

Whatever it takes, break free from those chains of guilt.

There are some more, which might be for another post, but these are my biggest ones.

Connect Deeper
I would love to connect with you deeper. Are you on Snapchat, too? Add me! My username is enfpelias.

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