A Letter to Myself After Sitting on the 'Big Chair' for Chemo

You are going to wake up tomorrow morning and your life is going to change forever. You think you have the flu — you don’t. They will tell you it’s probably nothing — it’s something. You are going to hurt but you will beat this. You are going to go to the doctor tomorrow morning and they are going to tell you that you have cancer. They are going to tell you that you can’t have kids (you will have two). You will think you’ll never be healthy again but you will run a half-marathon at 40.

You are going to sit on the “big chair” and undergo 12 cycles of treatment (AVBD), and the “Kool-aid” red colored Bleomycin will make your veins feel like they will catch on fire as it courses through you. The nausea will be intolerable, and after the first treatment you will start taking pills to counteract the symptoms. Your anxiety will take over and they will give you medication to help you chill out. The toxic combination of drugs will make you so restless that you will walk aimlessly for miles. You will hope one day you feel normal again.

You will try your best to rally for the treatments; your body just won’t be able to rebound. You will learn how to inject the marrow-stimulating Neupogen into your stomach so your white blood cell count will be high enough for you to handle the next round of chemo.

You are going to be in a dark place, but you will find the light.

You are going to fight Stage III cancer. You will stay in college. Your amazing friends will shave their heads in solidarity when yours falls out and you will hold them tight. Six months of treatment will pass slowly but you will make it. You will spend every six months for the next five years getting scanned; you will hold your breath. You will have some scares — it won’t come back. You will get to 10 years; no more scans. You will be cured.

You are going to look back in 20 years and you won’t believe what you survived. You are going to look at the two beautiful children you weren’t supposed to have; you will be thankful every single day you fought like hell.

You are going to survive; you are going to fight for others. You are going to be mad that in 20 years no better treatment has been developed. You are going to do everything in your power to help advance the science and find better, more effective, and less damaging treatments.

You are going to have a team rally around you; they are going to change the world. Your story is going to inspire a movement; your message will be heard by thousands. A campaign will start in your honor. It will unite people touched by cancer; it will start a crusade. You will be blown away by the support, humbled and awed on a daily basis. You will tell everyone to join you.

You are going to wake up tomorrow morning and your life is going to change forever.

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