As I sit on my patio, listening to the birds and feeling the breeze on my skin I can’t help but be grateful. Grateful that this journey hasn’t been too rough on me and that I’m here to tell my story. What I’ve realized over the past few months is that I became part of a group of individuals that are fighters. A cancer diagnosis – no matter the type, the stage, the prognosis – is never ever easy; and it’s never anything that you picture yourself having to face, let alone facing at the age of 34.

Photo credit: Britta the Photographer. Thank you for reaching out and encouraging me to document my journey.

The waiting room

I have been visiting the cancer center multiple times a week for the last four months. I pass by other cancer patients and I want to reach out and tell them that although they don’t know me, I can relate to what they are going through. I want to tell them that everything will be ok, even though I know sometimes it won’t. Sitting in that waiting room, I want to know everyone’s story.

I look around the room and share smiles with the older folks, and I think about how much I miss my grandparents. Memories about them pop in and out of my head and make me smile. I see women that look my age and I think “you are too young to be sitting in this waiting room. Why are you here?” I see children who I know are going through a tough battle, but are smiling and laughing like they don’t have a care in the world, all while their worried parents smile back at them with tears in their eyes. I sit and I wonder if anyone looks at me, wondering why I’m here, at this place, on this day. We all have something in common – we sit here waiting for an appointment, a result, or good news.

My new beginning

Last Friday I got some great news, I was told that it would be my last day of treatment. I had convinced myself not to get too positive and to go in assuming I would have at least one more round. The news surprised me, and I was overcome with joy and relief.

I walked out of the cancer center knowing that I wouldn’t be going back for about a month. After visiting the center so many days a week, something felt weird about leaving that day. I knew I should be celebrating that I won’t have to go back so soon, but instead I had a sense of uneasiness. Now that I am on the upswing and only need monthly monitoring, I know I need to start readjusting my mindset. I will no longer be waiting for the next result, the next appointment, my next treatment. Instead of fighting to get through each day, I need to start living for each moment.

You see, the past four months, I have put my whole being into fighting – as hard as I ever have. Ever since I heard the word cancer, magical powers came over me. It might sound crazy, but it’s true. It’s something I have never experienced before. This diagnosis has opened my eyes to things I never thought I would see or feel, both good and bad.

Ring that bell!

As good as ringing the bell at the cancer center on my last day of chemo felt, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. Emotions that have been building up throughout this whole journey are starting to rise to the surface. I can finally breathe easier and process all that has happened to me over the past year, but it’s going to take some time (and therapy) for me to figure out the best way possible to move on from this.

I have been changed. I have been changed for the better. I have fought harder than I have ever had to fight in my entire life. I have leaned on everyone around me to lift me up. I have shared some of the most vulnerable moments I’ve had in my lifetime. I have broken down. I have gotten back up, and I will proceed to live each day with a new sense of where I have been, who I am, and where I will go.

I’m starting my life, from here on out, as a survivor.

Thank you again for following along, here is a glimpse at round 3 and ringing the bell at the cancer center.

Shannon is using this blog to tell her story and keep everyone updated as she crushes cancer.