Even though my cancer journey possesses several similarities to other people with cancer, in regards to chemo and radiation side effects, the details of my experience are drastically different. Each person who is diagnosed with cancer is given a treatment plan according to their cancer type and stage of cancer when diagnosed. Once my doctors knew which type of cancer I had and what stage of cancer I was in, I was given the same treatment plan as all other cancer patients with the same diagnosis as me.
I read the statistics on survival rate, read the side effects, and tests that would be administered to check my progress. I was well informed and started to compare my diagnosis with others from the information given. I thought to myself, this information is great and I used it as a guide or a roadmap through my newly found cancer journey. It was somewhat comforting to have this information at the beginning of my cancer journey because I thought that my cancer journey would be the same as these other patients. As I am sure, many of us are always afraid of the unknown. Having this information made me feel a false sense of security. I say false sense of security because I did not have all the related facts on every single patient or any information regarding the outcome of them. For example, how many did not respond to the treatment like most of the people on the same treatment plan. Also, reading about the side effects of the treatment that most people experienced and actually experiencing them myself was quite different. Honestly, I constantly compared myself to others and was crushed when my cancer journey did not follow the same pattern as most of the patients with my same set of circumstances. Unfortunately, my body did not respond the same way to the treatment and my plan had to be altered along the way. At this point, I felt lost, alone, and stranded without direction because the guide or road map I would turn to for guidance did not have any information regarding people who had to have their treatment plan altered. It was like my world was crumbling around me. The fear of the unknown slowly crept backed in like a dark shadow in the middle of the night.
Due to my cancer treatment not working, l had to be transferred to another hospital that had vast expertise and specialization in lymphomas. In that hospital, I met other cancer patients whose original treatment plans had not worked for their respective cancer diagnosis. Even though we all were similar in that the cancer treatment didn’t work for any of us, we were different in the type of cancer each of us had been diagnosed with. Therefore, despite the fact that we all had different cancers, I felt connected to these people who shared my cancer journey of not following the same treatment patterns as most patients in our own cancer group category. After talking to them and swapping cancer war stories, it made me remember that we are all unique individuals. If God created each one of us as a unique individual. How did I expect for my body to react to the cancer treatment the same way as other people’s bodies, if we are all unique? We need to embrace our uniqueness and stop trying to fit into a “mold”. As unique individuals, we may share similar life experiences or set of circumstances but our journeys will never be exactly the same.
It’s great to talk and listen to other people who share a similar journey, but don’t compare yourself to them. Each of our journeys is unique and different. Take note of other’s experiences but know that yours may not be exactly the same because you are a unique individual with your own journey in life.