Growing up you never dream about having cancer, in fact it was probably the last thing on your mind. For me it sure was, I never imagined waking up one morning going to the doctor and being told that I have cancer. That was the last thing I ever expected my doctor to say. It’s like your entire world pauses and the only thing you can think about is if you are going to survive or not. Fortunately, with modern medicine, I have a higher chance of getting struck by lighting than I do dying from Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Today was my last chemo and after eight chemo treatments the only thing I am looking forward to is the salad bar at Fargos that I haven’t been able to have since I have started chemo. Since starting chemo, I have had a few people ask me what I have done to not let chemo take over my life and not be depressed by the horrendous amount of chemical entering my body. Well that is what I want to share with everyone today. Here are 5 ways I survived chemo with the least amount of damage as possible;
1. Always have a positive attitude- there’s a saying “attitude is everything” and when I say that I mean it. Chemo is a mental game. Yes, it feels disgusting having all of these chemicals going into your body, I still gag every time I think about chemo, however, when you think about the positive side of things and know that in the end the chemo is only helping you, the process isn’t bad at all. Always have a positive attitude and look at the bright side of things.
2. Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthy- I struggled a lot with staying hydrated and eating healthy mainly because the chemo messed with my taste buds and ruined the taste of food and water. The hardest part about everything was avoiding trying new things, your taste buds aren’t the same as what the were before so I don’t suggest trying anything new especially if you think you will like it. Always try to stay hydrated and never let yourself become hungry and those hours at chemo will just fly by.
3. Stay Active- Usually when you think of someone going through chemo, you probably imagine someone who looks really sick and only flesh and bones, in some cases it can be that way, however, I had a completely different reaction to the chemo. Before I found out about the cancer I had been going to the gym two to three times a week but once I found out, my life became so busy with doctors appointments and chemo that I had absolutely no time to go to the gym. That was perfectly fine, at that time I needed to focus on my health and mindset that the gym wasn’t even on my mind. Once I started chemo I was cleared to do minimal excercise and I did what I could until I got tired. I was expecting to be sick and throwing up all the time and I never did in fact the chemo made me want to eat more food, so much food that I actually have gained 20 pounds. So the best thing you can do when on chemo is try to stay active as much a possible, even if it’s just walking around the block.
4. Rest, Rest, Rest- your mind will tell you when you’re tired and when it’s time to go to sleep and occasionally if you want to take a nap you will. On chemo when your brain tells you that it’s time to rest that means stop what you are doing or finish what you are doing and go take a nap. I can’t tell you how many times I refused to listen to my brain and ignored the cry in my head to go take a nap. I’m the type of person who has to know everything that’s going on and be in the present at all times. It took me until my last few treatments to understand the importance of sleep and now I am a napping expert.
5. Have an AMAZING support team- When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I thought this was going to be a quick one month ordeal. I never imagined that I would have to drop out of classes, cut back my hours at work and put my entire life on pause for something that I never expected to happen. I’ll be the first to admit that this journey was hard both physically and mentally, there were times that I didn’t think I would make it through the night. Lucky for me, I have the most AMAZING support team which included everyone in my family, all of my friends and the entire community behind me. If it weren’t for them and their positive words of encouragement I wouldn’t have been able to fight through the hard days. When you’re going through a hard time, it isn’t just you that is struggling, everyone struggles with the news but as long as you all come together and fight through this, there is nothing that will stop you.
When I was diagnosed with cancer time froze, it seemed like I would never escape this nightmare and for years to come I will always have to be cautious but looking back on everything I’ve been through, I wouldn’t want to change a thing. Yes, cancer does suck but if I didn’t get cancer then I wouldn’t be able to help others with what they’re going through. My life ambition is to make a difference in the world and if I can help others fight their worries then I am one step closer to achieving my goal.