What cancer taught me

14 November 2017
  • Teens

What cancer taught me

Sometimes, the most important life lessons are the ones we end up learning the hard way

Its cliché, I know, but it’s incredibly true.

Alongside all the other over-used quotes; you’ll hear the phrase “everything happens for a reason” more times than you can count. Often that reason is a lesson, and that lesson is a big one.

Coming face to face with death when you’ve just begun life is complicated. You can’t expect any of your friends to understand or relate. Where your biggest worry was “Will I pass this test?” suddenly you have to worry about whether you’ll even be able to take that test in the first place. People are filling out their UCAS applications whilst you’re signing a consent form to have dangerous chemicals pumped through your veins.

But in the midst of the mayhem, a part of you comes alive. The part of you that’s aware of your body’s vulnerability and mortality. When you wake up and realise that you don’t want to die, you start to live. That means living without compromising your happiness. . As my good friend Billy put it: “we should all live doing what we truly want to do… cancer taught me that when you’re robbed of life’s simplest of abilities, shove it back in its face and follow your passion”. To see how true this statement is, you just need to ask a group of teens and young adults, diagnosed with cancer, what they want to do with their future. The sparkle in their eyes and the passion in their voice will communicate their desire to win life.

If you were to tell Azreen, five years ago, that she would be opening a henna art business, she’d laugh in your face. Cancer taught me that I could make my life anything I wanted it to be, despite doubting myself numerous times and telling myself it would just be easier to stick to what I know, I told myself that there was no point fighting to live for a life that I wasn’t happy with. Even if it wasn’t successful, at least I couldn’t say that I never tried or that I never followed my dreams.

Once I found the courage to fight for my dreams, I rendered fear useless. Once worst-case scenario had already happened, everything else almost feels irrelevant. Life cannot, and should not be lived in fear. Understanding that whatever is meant to happen, will be. Overcoming a punctured lung and week in ICU pretty much quiets the fear of spiders.

My final, and biggest lesson, was that Cancer never made me a survivor. I was always a survivor. Cancer never made me an artist, I was always an artist. Cancer never gave me anything that wasn’t already within me. It was only the catalyst to bringing these things to the surface. The sooner I took that power away from cancer, the easier it was to heal.

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