Young adults across the nation are being diagnosed with cancer. This is a fact. I'm sorry if we've disturbed you, but we really can't do much about it. Some of us survive this terrible ordeal and go on to other things. These other things involve stuff, like trying to re-become a productive member of society. I, for one, have no idea how to do this. I was somebody once. Now, I'm a shadow of a human being. I ask you -- What do I have now, if I don't even have dying of cancer?
I was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma in the fall of 2011, at the age of 25. This week, during Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week, I had my regular six-month checkup and was cleared for another half year. In fact, my oncologist told me that my potentiality of dying of cancer was suddenly so low, that I should actually be concerned with getting new cancers instead. My chances of having the melanoma come back are 15 percent or lower.
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was on top of the world. I had moved to New York City after college. I spent close to a year at home preparing for the journey into my new life. In the spring of 2009, I made the leap into the glitz and glam of big city life. Even though I was terrified of basically every new thing I encountered, I began climbing that ladder of life so efficiently that none of my peers could keep up. Before long, I had a wealth of experience under my belt. I had worked in project management, managing projects in the greatest city on Earth. I'd joined a secret society, hung out with celebrities, attended VIP parties, and generally rolled up like a badass when and wherever I wanted to.
Cancer completely destroyed my life. I'm not ashamed to admit it. I was 25, I had accomplished more than many people do in a lifetime. And I was about to die. But I couldn't even get that right. I survived, like many young adults who are diagnosed with cancer annually. And I continued on. But, to what end? What I went through -- what all of us young adult survivors and caretakers go through, is horrible beyond belief. There is no justification for dealing with a terminal illness -- with life and death -- before your quarter-life crisis. Cancer is such a stupid thing that it will creep up on you even though you've never dreamed it were possible.
So, what happens if things don't go according to plan? You survive? You watch your friends die, instead? Do you go back to your former life? Is there anything to go back to at all? I don't have the answers, because I haven't found them. I'm still me, going through something that I hope to God almighty never happens to anyone else. Not even my worst enemy. And I don't know where to go from here. I'm out of the darkest part of the woods, sure. But society is making it particularly difficult to forget what happened to me. It's moving on beyond me and trying hard to lose me in its wake. I, like other young adult survivors, feel lost, alone, and confused. Betrayed by the very fibers of the humanity we once so desperately sought.
I don't know how I'll move on. I don't know what I can grasp onto anymore. I've already stopped and reevaluated the horrible truths in life that give you pause -- truths that most people never have to entertain. And I've walked through that fire to the other side. But society is not ready for me. I had a bright future ahead of me, like so many others. Now I don't know if I'll ever stumble onto the right path again. If I ever figure out where that path is at all.