Jenna Larson via Crowdrise
March 07, 2012
.. in my words ..
cancer sucks. there is no other way to put it. if you haven't been affected, you have been more than blessed. in my short life, i have faced this deadly, disgusting monster head on. it is not a fun fight, but a necessary one.
at age 18, i was a freshman at penn state university. i was beginning to live my life and discover who i was. i had so much to look forward to, and was so excited to be at the best university. as i was walking to class one day, i was stopped in my tracks by a pain that was unbearable. i could barely breathe. i called my mom in a panic and while i had been through this same pain a few times in the past two years, this was the worst. i headed to the health center on campus. a few xrays later changed my life. while i had been through many tests and procedures during the years prior, something about the health center's pictures showed more. the doctor said, in a very kind voice "you better go to penn state hershey", meaning the medical center.
the following two weeks were a blur. appointments with what felt like a thousand doctors, poking, proding, needles, scans... i felt like a little guinea pig. i barely had time to process what could possibly be wrong. all i thought was "man, i really wish this chest pain would go away". before i knew it, the answer came. my doctor had a strange way of telling me - he knew how excited i was to be at penn state, so he said "i think your semester at school is going to change", and all i thought was "well... no, it's not". then those powerful words came next. i had lymphoma. cancer.
my doctors didn't give me much time to think about the seriousness of this diagnosis, and i'm not sure i wanted to at that time. i was determined to fight. i never saw any other option. and that's what i did - i fought with all i had. chemo's got harder each time, knowing that i had to sit through another round of poison being injected into my veins. school became harder to keep up with, but i had it set in my mind that i would not leave school. i even made dean's list through my entire freshman year! looking back, i'm not sure i could do it again, but i had the fire inside of me to fight.
about halfway through my treatment, i started to really think about what was happening. cancer?! wow. that's not easy to swallow. i was 18. did i know anyone my age with anything like this? i tried to find resources, but everything lead me to people much older, or younger or far away. i felt so alone many times, like no one could relate, and found myself in a depression for quite some time. there's never a "good" time to be diagnosed, but being diagnosed as a young adult leaves little support to be found.
i was able to find my best friend, my rock, and my confidant in dan. he stood tall next to me through my treatments, let me be bald, and let me complain if i needed. he was simply amazing. we were engaged a few days before christmas of 2006 - all treatment had ended, i was clear of any cancer in my body, i had a wonderful fiance and was on the right track for life. i was the happiest i could have ever been with my life. i started volunteering with organizations at my school, mostly working with pediatric cancer, and it was my therapy. everything seemed to be heading in the right direction.
in january of 2007, my fiance dan was killed in a car accident on his way to work. i was completely devestated. my world felt like it had ended. i felt like any hope i had to live a full life was stripped away, and that i couldn't move forward. i was extremely depressed for a long time, battling thoughts of dan and cancer and questioning many thoughts about life. again, the loneliness was almost overwhelming.
while i am happy to say that i have faced my demons and overcome many of them today, it took a long time. i am still working on myself everyday. i find that talking to people my age about their experiences with cancer is therapy in itself. sharing my story helps me heal. if only i had found an organization like this sooner, i may not have been living a darker life longer than i had to! there is nothing like feeling alone, and there is nothing like feeling accepted and that someone knows what you are going through. i2y is an amazing organization that can help thousands, millions, of young adults help each other. the emotional struggle and battle is just as hard as the treatments we face. support is what we need, and finding it should not be hard. please, donate to this cause and let us grow. let us find each other, help each other, and one day... we won't have to look so hard for each other.
please, donate to this amazing organization. thank you :)
I 2 Y - I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation Inc wrote -
Young adults, a largely unknown group in the war on cancer, account for 72,000 new diagnosis each year. That's one every eight minutes. It's also seven times more all than pediatric cancers. This is not OK!
The OMG! Cancer Summit is the premiere oncology conference and social networking event for the young adult cancer movement. A program of the I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation, the OMG! Cancer Summit, now in it's 5th year, has become a pivotal healthcare event that inspires thousands of survivors, cargivers and providers—along with scores of academic, advocacy, research and support organizations—to get organized, build community and unite as one to drive change.
Join our team and support our efforts to ensure that young adult survivors get the chance to attend this event and participate in a life-affirming weekend of support, education, community and hope.
Stupid cancer. Survivors rule.
“The OMG! Summit taught me to keep fighting, be my own advocate and never give up, no matter what the doctor says.”
"I loved meeting new people as well as seeing old friends in person who I’d only known through Facebook.”
“The OMG! Summit and the sheer enormity of our community has left me more inspired than ever."
“I made so many new connections. I can't wait to spread more awareness about young adult cancer.”
“What an amazing, life-changing and inspiring weekend.”