WRITER: Tiffany Hester
Forget the shining armor. Forget the knives, swords, and arrows. My weapons of war were chemotherapy, radiation, feeding tubes, and emergency hospital visits. Forget about prince charming coming to save me in the end and asking me to marry him and live happily ever after. My prince charming was disguised as an old man with a white jacket and a MD. He was there to save me, or rather my life, but reminding me that my life may not yet be a happy ever after.
In the cancer world it is dark, grim, and even a little depressing. With cancer I was battling the unseen villain in my body. The villain knew my weaknesses and invaded with his army. He knew my joys and dreams and has his own goals of crushing them secretly. He wanted me to suffer and slowly die. To never experience moving out on my own, getting a real education, finding a career, falling in love, getting married, having kids, or dying old.
What he didn’t know was that when I found him sneaking into my boundaries I was willing to fight. I wasn’t going to let him take my kingdom away without a fight. With little time to waste I turned into a warrior overnight and began my war cry. Though I knew I would make it out alive, I wasn’t scared of the battle scars I would collect along the way.
I was a victim to the hated and villainous illness by the name of cancer. When I noticed a large lump on the left side of my neck I didn’t think much of it since I wasn’t a doctor and didn’t know all there was to know about the human body. When it didn’t fade I got very nervous and went in to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. After taking antibiotics for two weeks, taking a CT scan, and a needle biopsy, the doctor confirmed one of my worst fears. I had cancer. Not just any cancer a rare cancer called neuroendocrine carcinoma that started in my sinus cavity and moved into my lymph nodes.
I was then referred to my next doctor who performed surgery on me and gave me the heartbreaking news of my future. Before my surgery he was almost positive that I wouldn’t have to go through chemotherapy, but I would still have to have radiation. When he got the lab results back from surgery he informed me I would now have to receive chemotherapy, but I wouldn’t have to lose my hair. Every day I was getting bad news from my doctors, because when I had my consultation with my oncologist he told me that with the chemotherapy I would receive I would lose my hair and it would possibly make me infertile.
I struggled having chemotherapy and radiation at the same time. Through it I was stuck with a feeding tube, unable to swallow, and saliva so thick that if I tried to swallow I would end up vomiting. I had lost my hair, strength, and motivation. I had been in and out of the hospital all summer long with fevers and low blood counts.
I had a problem sleeping when I was going through my chemotherapy, I was in so much pain, I had a hard time breathing, I was so weak, and my daily thoughts bothered me. Before I was diagnosed with cancer I dreamed of getting a degree in history and traveling the world to meet and help people less fortunate than I. I was working full time as a supervisor and going to school full time, I hardly had any time for myself let alone eat and sleep. I was so anxious to hurry and attain my associate’s degree that breaks were not a part of my plan. I was even going to go to school during the summer to get ahead. After dreaming of an eventful summer my plans were shattered and I was told by my doctors that it would be best if I take a break from school and work. What? I never believed in breaks then I was forced into one. All my ideas of a bright future were over; I had to give up school, my social life and my good job. Even though I thought my career goals were over, cancer was giving me a chance to reevaluate my life and truly think of what I wanted to do and how to share my talents.
I read a lot of fiction on my own time and I have always made up stories that stuck in my head, but when I dream I have always considered them nightmares because of how vivid and real they seem to me. A couple years back I had dreamed a nightmare that still scares me to this day. Every time I had to calm myself through a scan, treatment, or getting to sleep I would imagine this dream in my head and I started creating the story to this dream with characters and fears of their own. This story I made up was the only thing that motivated me to keep moving forward, it was my sanctuary. Though I may not be grateful for having to put my life on hold and going through all the pain, I am grateful for the challenge it gave me to turn my life around and steer me in a new path. I’m no longer the same girl with the beautiful long hair that was insecure about what other people thought of her, now I’m a confident woman who values others before herself and yearns to continue to experience the life I was spared. In most fairytale stories the hero survives in the end having defeated his/her foes and dragons. I am that modern day hero in not just the public eye, but mine eyes as well. I still have many battles to face but I have won a war.