Alexandra Marquis

Alexandra Marquis

Montreal QC

The mobilization of people through messages or small gestures made the biggest difference. The simple “I'm thinking of you today” gave me so much strength.

Just a few months ago, if someone had told me that I would be writing these lines, that I would bear the title of cancer survivor, and that my life was about to take a whole new direction, it’s probably the last thing I would have believed. Fear, in fact, was the first feeling that took hold of me - the fear of no longer being the young woman full of life and ambition that I used to be. A feeling of vertigo took over my body in a matter of seconds. Had all my life plans just fallen apart? At the age of 27, I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma.

Everything happened very quickly. Just three weeks between my first symptom and my first chemotherapy treatment. From a private practice doctor's office to the emergency room waiting area, and even to a fertility clinic waiting room. I vividly remember the Thursday morning in that fertility clinic’s waiting room, surrounded by young couples seemingly embarking on their family planning journeys. At that moment, I was completely overwhelmed by a storm of emotions. I was told that chemotherapy carried the risk of affecting my fertility, so it was advisable to undergo an egg retrieval procedure before starting my treatments, to freeze and preserve them. It was a lot of information to absorb in such a short time. Why was I in this situation? This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Is this really the memory I’ll have when I look back at having children? Is this a dream I am going to have to forget about now? So much worry and uncertainty all at once.

I have been fortunate to have the incredible support of the people around me. I never doubted the support system I have, but the mobilization of people through messages or small gestures made the biggest difference. The simple “I'm thinking of you today” gave me so much strength. The two things that helped me the most throughout the treatments were, firstly, allowing myself to experience all the emotions I was going through. It's okay to have bad days, to feel like you're mourning the life you had before, to feel frustration and incomprehension. I allowed myself to fully experience all these emotions and I kept reminding myself that everything was temporary. Those bad days, all that fatigue, all that pain, it was all temporary. It wasn't something that was going to stay with me forever. The good days would come back. It was also with that mindset that I enjoyed and appreciated the good times even more. Without anticipating bad days either, just remembering that tomorrow can't be taken for granted and that it's important to live in the present moment.

This experience also showed me the importance of letting go and controlling what I can control. That is, controlling how I feel about certain situations and how I decide to act on them. Looking back today, I'm proud of how far I've come. Life becomes, in my opinion, much lighter this way.

My cancer diagnosis led me to have several profound reflections that were, I believe, taken for granted. I asked myself many times; what do I have to learn from this? Whether I like it or not, it's part of my journey now, so what can I take away from it? What came out was that it's important for me to be where it matters. Getting involved with the LLSC today is a way of being present where it matters and where there is a positive impact on my daily life, as well as on other people’s lives.