A Farewell Note to My Beloved Readers

A Farewell Note to My Beloved Readers
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So, the time has come. Here I am, three years after I sat down for the first time to write my inaugural column for Lymphoma News Today, writing my very last one. How time flies. How much has happened!

I published my first column on June 4, 2018. It was titled, “Upon Hearing Those 3 Words: ‘You Have Cancer.’” It had been a year and a half since my first cancer diagnosis, yet the wounds were still fresh. I wrote about the experience of being told I had cancer for the first time at the tender age of 22. The columns that followed detailed my experiences as a young cancer survivor. I wrote about gratitude and how the experience of almost losing my life made me acutely aware of what truly mattered.

I wrote about how the act of writing about cancer was helping me to heal, how acknowledging what I went through and talking openly about it had become a form of therapy for me.

I wrote about chemo-induced hair loss, and how, despite it being a severely devastating experience, it turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise, as it forced me to truly love myself inside and out, without the safety net of my long hair to fall back on.

I wrote about the importance of continuing to enjoy life while sick and doing things that shocked me in order to remind myself that despite this diagnosis, I was still very much alive.

I wrote about the hugely difficult experience of dealing with my mother’s dementia diagnosis while going through chemotherapy and not having her there for support.

I wrote about the experience of traveling alone post-cancer, and how solitude helped me process all the emotional trauma and pain I had just gone through. How taking time away from normal life and embarking on a journey into the unknown enabled me to heal.

I wrote about how cancer changed the way I viewed food and helped me consume more consciously, as I had a newfound appreciation for my body.

And when I began to see the first signs of relapse in my body, I wrote about fear. Fear of returning to that scary place, of finding myself isolated in a hospital bed once again, of not getting to live the life I had worked so hard to be here for.

And then, of course, when the worst thing that could have possibly happened did in fact happen, and I received the devastating news that my cancer was back two years after my first diagnosis, I wrote about grief, heartache, sadness, and insecurity.

Then, I wrote through my relapse. I wrote about surrendering to the seasons of my life and accepting that I wouldn’t get the story I hoped for. I wrote about dating while going through cancer, attending support groups, traveling with cancer, and finally, the stem cell transplant that ultimately saved my life.

I wrote about my recovery from the transplant, all the ways in which my body changed, and how this second bout of illness transformed the trajectory of my career. I wrote about cancer and mental health, and the struggle to find myself again after being stripped of my identity. I wrote about cancer and sexual health, and the challenges in being intimate.

I wrote about starting a new chapter with my brand new immune system, about going back to work after my transplant, and the impact of the coronavirus as a vulnerable and at-risk person. I wrote about the highs and lows of quarantine, about starting a new exercise regimen, and the solace I found in my forced solitude. I wrote about my fear of relapsing again, and the ways in which I was working to overcome these fears and try as hard as possible to live a normal life.

I wrote about celebrating my “re-birthday” a year post-transplant, and the start of what I deemed as shedding my identity as a sick person as I was finally healing from my seven-year journey of dealing with this disease.

And finally, I wrote about my new life – how cancer and coronavirus caused me to radically transform my world. How I quit my job, moved to another country, fell in love, and opened up my own café.

How I feel like everything has fallen into place and I am now, finally, truly happy.

And so, after these three whirlwind years, I am putting my columnist hat to rest for a while and saying goodbye, my loyal readers. Thanks for coming with me as I navigated the highs and lows of lymphoma.

If you wish to continue following along with my journey, you can follow my blog, michelleraphaella.com, or my updates on Instagram @shellsfred.

Much love,

Michelle

Me, in my cafe, feeling happy.

***

Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.

Michelle is a writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed travel addict hailing from Cape Town, South Africa. In December 2015, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma — she then relapsed in October 2018. Enduring cancer at a young age was both an eye-opening and life-changing experience which in time became the catalyst to start writing and sharing her journey with the world, in the hope of helping others facing similar challenges. Her favorite pastimes include reading books, practicing yoga, being in the ocean, exploring the world, and documenting the myriad beauties of everyday life. 
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Michelle is a writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed travel addict hailing from Cape Town, South Africa. In December 2015, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma — she then relapsed in October 2018. Enduring cancer at a young age was both an eye-opening and life-changing experience which in time became the catalyst to start writing and sharing her journey with the world, in the hope of helping others facing similar challenges. Her favorite pastimes include reading books, practicing yoga, being in the ocean, exploring the world, and documenting the myriad beauties of everyday life. 

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4 comments

  1. Christina Townsend says:

    Dear Michelle,

    From one cancer survivor to another. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. It was my therapy.

    Be safe and blessed,

    Christina Townsend

  2. Cami says:

    Godspeed….your journey is much like mine…relapse after relapse. It’s so hard to gain footing after that. I wish you all the Joy you can find, it’s on the bookshelf right next to Attitude…You’ve go this!

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