by Virginia Repsys
I was 27 years old when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. I had known something was wrong. But I never imagined it’d be cancer. I guess none of us do.
I was devastated, but I tried to remain hopeful. When I researched my disease online, I found out that my type and stage of cancer had a 90-percent five-year survival rate. But even that didn’t quell the fear I felt inside. It wasn’t until I met with my oncologist that I truly started believing I could beat this cancer. He was determined to cure me, and I was determined to live.
I promised myself I’d always go to chemotherapy well dressed and with a smile on my face. It gave me a confidence boost. Even though I grew more anxious as my treatment progressed, it always helped when I “put my game face on” before entering the infusion room. I remained hopeful – that treatment would end, that I would survive.
With certainty, I can say that the one thing that most helped me endure the difficult road was surrounding myself with positive, hopeful people. People who knew how to make me laugh so hard I cried. People who lent a shoulder to lean on when I felt dejected or afraid, but who always reminded me to hold on to hope. You’ll need those types of people with you as you walk this road.
If I could give you any other advice, it would be this: Do something that empowers you. Write in a journal. Smile as much as you can. Laugh, even when the road is long and hard and seems impossible. Laughter heals the soul. It healed mine.
There were many times when I wanted to give up and let the anguish consume me, but I was determined to live. I never gave up. Don’t you give up, either. Hold on to faith, hold on to hope, and live.
Virginia Repsys is a Hodgkin lymphoma survivor living in Garfield, NJ.
This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, November/December 2015.