Katerina Zoï Sita
When I was 19 years old, I was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. No matter how old you are, hearing that you have cancer comes as an absolute shock. However, for me, it felt completely earth-shattering. Everything happened so quickly, I wasn't sure how I would be able to keep up. I struggled to keep up with a new schedule of doctor’s appointments, biweekly blood tests, receiving chemotherapy every three weeks, carrying around a chemo pump, injections, food restrictions, radiation therapy, endless scans, etc. When I was diagnosed, part of me thought that my life was over. And then, on October 31st, 2019, after what felt like a never ending battle, I was put into remission. Having a blood cancer will always be a part of who I am. I am stronger for what I have gone through. I am so grateful to be alive and every single day I am reminded of just how lucky I really am. Even on the hardest days, where it feels like I'm right back where I started, I remind myself of how far I've truly come.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, it was difficult not to feel like my life was over. However, seeing my family support me in the ways that they did; never failing to put a smile on my face no matter what my circumstances. They inspire me every day. When we first heard about Light the Night, they encouraged me to join. That was 3 years ago. Every year, the atmosphere, the lights, the speeches, the music reminds me why Light the Night is so important. It reminds me that I am not alone in my battle. It gives me an opportunity to pay homage to those that we've lost, those that still fight; in the hopes that one day nobody else ever has to.
I was able to reach the $5000 milestone with the amazing support of my family and friends. From the very first day of my diagnosis, I have been blessed to be surrounded by the kindest and most loving humans. I cannot emphasize enough how lucky I truly am. Posting on social media, sending out emails and just simply talking to my friends and family have allowed me to reach a milestone I'm so grateful to have gotten to.
Every year for the last 3 years, Light the Night has given me the opportunity to celebrate my battle as well as everyone else's who's fighting a blood cancer. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate those we've lost, the survivors and the supporters who have encouraged us along the way. There aren't quite enough words to describe what it means to me so I'll leave it at this. For me, Light the Night means community; it means support; it means love; it means hope; it means light.
I think the most important thing to remember is that being diagnosed with cancer is not your whole identity; it's an unfortunate part of it. Being diagnosed and feeling so vulnerable is a feeling I do not wish on anybody. The best thing anyone could ever do is support someone through their difficult times. Whether that's financially, whether that's emotionally, whether that's simply by showing up and being there. It makes the world of a difference to the person that's fighting their battle. Support is the only reason I managed to get through my darkest days. I am so blessed.