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Acknowledging What Was Taken From Me as a Pediatric Cancer Survivor

When people talk about their experience with cancer and the treatments they endured, they will often speak of the things that cancer didn’t take from them. While cancer can’t take everything from you — like hope, faith or courage — it is capable of taking things from you that are impossible to get back. Being a kid you have barely experienced anything and now you don’t even have the option. So it’s OK to be angry and sad about all the time and opportunities you may miss out on during and after treatment.

The most prominent thing that is taken away from being a kid with cancer is to simply be a kid. Your life is no longer the life envisioned by your parents and loved ones. It’s no longer about going to soccer practice, school field trips, birthday parties and so much more. Instead it is endless doctors appointments and day after day spent in the hospital. Your life is now focused on keeping you healthy and alive.

When you go into remission from a pediatric cancer diagnosis this should be the end, right? Life should start to return to normal and you should go back to being a kid. But this is not the reality of a childhood cancer survivor. The best way I can describe life after cancer is that it feels like you’re still stuck and your waiting for the next shoe to drop. I wonder to myself, does this feeling ever go away? Will I ever get to feel like everyone else around me who seems to have a carefree life?

I think more than anything in life I just wanted to feel like everyone around me. My friends always seemed to be more carefree and just able to have a good time, whereas I felt out of place. I have learned throughout my young life that this has come from the unfortunate aspect of having no choice but to grow up and become mature before I was even in middle school. I missed out on a lot of things and that has left me somewhat bitter and angry. Childhood cancer is the monster that never leaves my mind.

What childhood cancer didn’t take away is my hope that one day there will a better treatments and maybe even a cure, so kids will have the opportunity to live their lives. It also didn’t take my courage to face every day with a smile and wanting to do more for kids like me, so they have the opportunity to just be kids.

It’s OK to be angry, but I have also learned that instead of letting anger affect your whole life and how you live every day, you can use it to make a difference in the world. Demand that childhood cancer be made a priority and demand change so kids can have the opportunity to live like everyone else.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash