I didn't take the symptoms seriously because they all seemed to make perfect sense. I had detailed and logical explanations for all the changes I was experiencing in my body. Those explanations seem ridiculous now, considering I know how serious my symptoms were.
I spoke at the congress about the innovative ways we can address the needs of adolescents and young adults living with metastatic and/or advanced cancer. Here are six summary items I think you should know about the conference:
A triangle shape can be as sturdy as a square. At first, it might be difficult to trust that the three-legged table will be as strong, as balanced, as safe as the four-legged one was. But it can be done. That table can be redesigned, remade, resilient. This is what happened to us.
So this week, during National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week and in all the weeks to come, I'm raising my bright orange card with my name and patient number and demanding that I be counted.
I often hear, "I'm so happy you're done with treatment! Now you can get back to where you were." The latter is simply is false. My life will never go back to the way it once was. My challenge now is to figure out what my new life looks like.
Every person's grief is unique. How you choose to honor the passing of a loved one is up to you. If I could say one thing to others dealing with loss in the midst of these festive times, it would be this: Give yourself permission to live through the holidays however you need to.
Please don't get me wrong. I am so incredibly thankful I am surviving after my cancer diagnosis and treatment. But at the same time, I'm ready to be so much more than just the girl who survived cancer. I'm ready to simply be me.