For those of you who don't know, I want to go on a trip to India with 12 other cancer survivors. Terri Wingham, a trailblazer in the cancer (survivorship) world, it taking 12 survivors to India for two weeks in February to volunteer, give back and find a little bit out about themselves.
Terri has asked that all applicants write a blog entry with a max of 500 words about why they are ready for A Fresh Chapter (which is the name of Terri's blog and foundation).
Here's my entry...
After being told for seven months that 'it was nothing', on March 11th, 2011,
I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer at the age of 26. With no family
history of the disease and being otherwise healthy, being blindsided is the only
way I know how to describe my diagnosis.
I had a mastectomy 17 days after hearing the news and then went through six
aggressive chemo treatments. As I approached the end of treatment, I kept
thinking 'It's almost over' but I soon realized that even though treatment was
coming to an end, cancer is never over.
I went through a transition or 'cancer limbo' as I like to call it where I
couldn't identify as a patient any more but I certainly didn't feel like a
survivor. As a part of this transition, I also had to get used to my new
When I finished treatment, I felt like everyone around me took a huge sigh of
relief, and I took a huge sigh of 'what now?' I somewhat feel that it was the
end of treatment where my journey really began. I am trying to find a place for
myself in this world now. I am trying to balance my cancer life and my career,
my personal life, and my relationships.
I don't think I necessarily understood how much of a void cancer left in my
life until I read Terri's blog about taking a group of 12 survivors to India. I
was in tears after reading about the trip and I knew I had to be one of those 12
survivors. #Delhi2013 gives me a sense of purpose, a way to give back (or pay
forward what so many people did for me), a way to help others when I know so
much about needing help.
Cancer can be (and was) so isolating and to be able to volunteer in a country
like India gives me hope; hope for learning about others, hope for learning
about myself and hope for my future as a healed (not to be confused with
'cured') breast cancer survivor.
I think this trip would provide a lot of emotional healing that I may not be
able to find in another capacity. Having been out of treatment for a year now, I
think I am ready to grow as an individual and truly learn what it means to start
a fresh chapter.
'Sometimes you need to be on the other side to find your way back to yourself.'