I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on August 26, 2016. It was just shy of two months after undergrad convocation. It was definitely not how I was expecting to start my “adult” life.
Being diagnosed as a young adult fresh out of university made the experience pretty hard. There were days that I felt frustrated that my body couldn’t keep up with those around me. I remember certain days when just walking to the corner of my street seemed like the biggest challenge of my life, or even just sitting up without feeling nauseous was a daunting task.
I have definitely gained a brand new perspective in life. It may seem corny, but life is too short. I want to make sure that I'm living a life that I can look back at and the word that comes up is happiness. After being diagnosed with cancer, I try to live by these three rules: be adventurous, be curious and be brave.
My doctors officially said that I was in remission September 2017. I knew that I wanted to celebrate and to give back to those who have been affected by blood cancer, whether they were a patient, a survivor or a caretaker. I remember seeing posters about Light the Night when I would go in for doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy sessions. When I participated in my first Light the Night, I couldn’t believe how many people were there. It was a strong reminder of just how many people are affected by blood cancers. Seeing and hearing so many stories that were different and the same to my own inspired me to continue to participate in Light the Night ever since.
I know that Light the Night has a different meaning for everyone. To some it’s to celebrate and to others, it’s to remember. Personally, Light the Night is a way for me to give back to the blood cancer community. I remember seeing my face on a posterboard near the end of my first walk. I ran to it, sat right beside it and beamed a huge smile. Seeing my name, being called a survivor and seeing my remission date reminded me of how far I’ve come. I know I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the support of my family, friends, and my team of healthcare professionals. The battle of blood cancers is on-going, and Light the Night is a way for me to help in that fight. With Light the Night, we all became part of a huge community and army against blood cancers.
Canadians should support Light The Night because a donation is a way for Canadians to join in the fight against blood cancers. One donation provides support to patients who are fighting blood cancer and to those who need assistance to their lives afterwards. One donation supports funding for more research to improve treatments and to bring us one step closer to a cure for blood cancer. Every single donation matters, no matter how big or small.
To anyone who has been newly diagnosed with a blood cancer, I’d like to tell them that it is so important to be kind to yourself. Some days will be tough and it may seem that this will never end. It’s okay to have those days, you are more than allowed to have them. You don’t have to be a superhero every single day. Take it one day at a time, and remember that you are not alone. There are people out there who want to help you. You don’t need to do everything yourself. You’ll be amazed by what the power of community and loved ones can really do.
As we’re dealing with this ‘new normal’ in the midst of this global pandemic, I would like to share some words from one of my favourite musicals, Come from Away: Be anxious for nothing. Don’t give up hope, for hope is what we need in the world right now.
Team Captain, The Jas Journey