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g n i t a r b e l e C a a s r e v r e c n a C

zeal VOICES

using the day you were diagnosed with cancer to ce lebrate your new life instead of mo urning for your past one [the story of a y oung survivor by A lexis Dela Cruz] 118 Zeal Magazine / March 2014


Phototgraphs by Kenzie Mitchell and Jason Camera


zeal VOICES

then

A thank you letter to cancer Dear cancer, On this day three years ago, you crashed into my life with no warning. Because of you, I was forced to go through such a hard journey too young. You caused nine months of hos pital stays, chemo, hair loss, the rem oval of my left collar bone along with a cool scar, and countless tearful bre akdowns. However, after those nine mo nths were up, you still affect me every sin gle day, but not in the way you had hoped. Three years after the day you cru mbled my 18 year old spirit, I’m now sayin g thank you. Instead of killing my con fidence for good, I am now more sure of myself than ever. Instead of making me weaker, you made me strong er. I value love, support, and friendship so much more now after meeting you. You made living so much sweeter for me . Thank you for giving me a thirst for life I would never possess without you . And thanks for sucking so much so I can now shrug off any bad day with a laugh and positive attitude. Ha ppy 3 year anniversary. Love, Alexis PS. screw you.

120 Zeal Magazine / March 2014

2011

w o n 2014


I

I wrote a post previously about how important those few good days are among the bad ones throughout the cancer journey. Now, I’m going to be real and honest about those bad days, because I had many of those and I feel that I didn’t allow people to see me battling the difficult trials by hiding behind the forced smiles and good attitudes. As anyone could guess, it was extremely hard to have my life come to a halt at such a

determined to finish my treatment and beat cancer. Now, all of the emotions and feelings are coming back to me now that I have the time and energy to really sit and process everything I went through and had to deal with. The hardest part for me during this time in my life was having my life come to a stop and put on hold, but everyone else’s lives around me just kept moving on: family, friends, peers. It was hard for me to sit back and watch people move on with their lives without me participating in it. I know I could never ask anyone to stand back and stop their lives just for me, but it was a tough reality that was hard for me to grasp. I felt left out and alone watching my close ones’ lives from afar as if I was no longer a part of it. Another difficulty for me was not feeling normal. I was sick, and it sucked. I just felt sick and looked sick. So many times I just wanted to do something to feel better and make all the gross-ness of chemotherapy disappear. It was something I’ve never been through or felt and I had no idea how to deal with it. At 18 years old, I was supposed to become independent and grown up preparing to live on my own. I was graduating high school and would ideally be going on to bigger and better things. But I was going backwards. I couldn’t go out and be independent when I was so dependent on my mom taking care of me going to the hospital

“When I come to think about it, I’ve had to go through three different versions of myself.”

prime stage in my life: an 18 year old senior in high school. These were the times when we are preparing to go off to college and start our new lives with new friends, experiences, and futures. Unfortunately, instead of spending my second half of senior year bonding with friends and peers before we part ways after high school, I was in and out of the hospital getting chemotherapy or at home recovering from being weak and sick. Instead of spending my summer before college with friends and having the time of my life at the beach, concerts, and vacations, I was still in and out of the hospital or staying home on the days I couldn’t leave the house. I know this sounds sad and depressing, but it’s the truth. It was hard to talk about it since I had no time or room to feel sorry for myself or drown in my self pity since I was too busy and

and doctor appointments. I was like a newborn baby and needed so much attention and care, well maybe not exactly like a baby but you get the point. Now that I’m finished with treatment and moved on with my life again, you would think that cancer with be almost completely out of my life. Ironically, it actually affects my life more emotionally. As I said before, I now have the energy and state of mind to allow all the memories of what I went through come back and haunt me. I never had the chance to mourn for my lost previous life. Cancer took so much from me, and I’m now realizing all that I had lost. When I come to think about it, I’ve had to go through three different versions of myself: pre-cancer, during cancer, and post-cancer me. That in itself is extremely overwhelming and confusing for me since I’m trying to figure out who I really am now that I have cancer to help define my life.


zeal VOICES Having a postitve attitude helps not only helps going through cancer but also life after cancer.

1.

cool scars

2.

a new outlook on life

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s d n ie r f l a re . 3

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5 s g n i h T to Thank r e c n a C For

4. confidence

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5.

gratitude

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Magazine spread final**