After I was diagnosed with cancer, I felt like my world stopped and that I would have to cancel life to be in treatment at all times. I quickly checked myself and promised that I would do whatever it took to create some semblance of normal life as a 21-year-old while I was physically able.
Soon after beginning my 12 rounds of ABVD, I motivated myself by creating a list of the things that I wanted to do while I was undergoing chemo. Below, I share some of what I was able to accomplish and enjoy while undergoing treatment. I was determined to make happy experiences during an unhappy time in my life.
- Went to Disney World
The week after my diagnosis, my family set out to take a trip to the “happiest place on earth” and do our best to celebrate life and ride roller coasters!
- Went to the movies
Going to see movies made me nervous due to my low immune system, so I made sure to sit very far from anyone and had my friends who I was with protecting me from any coughs or sneezes. In cases where my immune system was a little too low, I wore a mask. I saw “Trainwreck,” “Inside Out,” “Southpaw,” “Hunger Games,” and others.
- Met Rachel Platten and attended her concert
Upon being diagnosed, Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” became my anthem. After reaching out and sharing my story, I was invited to her concert and got to meet her!
- Painting — with a twist
I was able to a enjoy a wonderful night with my girlfriends that came to visit me. We went to an art studio where we all got a canvas to paint an image instructed to the class!
- Went kayaking
OK, I ended up in a canoe with someone to help paddle because I couldn’t exert myself too much … Regardless, any nature opportunity had me jumping for joy. I am so glad I had the opportunity to do this.
- Met people on JSwipe
I was determined to continue my dating life. I went on interesting dates — some great and some terrible. In the end, I met wonderful people and continue to have fantastic friendships with many.
- Marlins game
I’m close with my first cancer friend, Zak. One of our favorite things to do was see the Marlins play. Although I am not usually a fan of baseball, It was a wonderful experience to get out of the house and hang out with my close friend.
- Miami Heat season opener
Growing up with an older brother who is obsessed with basketball has infected me with a mutual love for the game. I was so excited when I knew that I could go see the Heat play, especially since it was Chris Bosh’s first game back after having a pulmonary embolism (like me!) and being on Xarelto (like me!).
- Pole dancing
Pole fitness was a hobby and form of exercise that I enjoyed before being diagnosed, so I made sure to get my pole shipped to Florida while I was going through treatment. I typically used my pole on nights before treatments as an outlet to let out anxiety. I didn’t attend any pole classes during treatment due to germs and my weakened immune system.
- Lion Country Safari
My partner in crime (PIC) Zak and I took a trip to the local safari-themed park to visit the animals and enjoy some sunshine together.
- Dave Matthews Band concert
The band makes a trip to Florida every summer for a much anticipated show. I am proud of myself for making it out and enjoying a little bit of the show, but I ended up going home early due to the amount of smoke around the amphitheater.
- Beach yoga
A ritual when I felt well enough to do it, beach yoga was another physical way for me to enjoy nature and release anxiety.
- Boating and snorkeling
After getting permission from my oncologist, my family and I took a boating trip to Key West. I even got to snorkel for quick moments when my lungs cooperated. It was such a wonderful time!
Regardless of what your list looks like and what it is you feel up to doing based on your limitations, please remember that underneath cancer and chemo, you are still you. Do your best (mindful of your physical and emotional energy) to preserve a version of life that you enjoy.
(Photos courtesy of Radiant Racheli)
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