My Cancer ‘Surviving Strategies’

I was in disbelief when I was diagnosed with cancer, but then I turned my attention to crafting my surviving strategies.

“Cancer? Not me! Impossible!”

That was my first reaction to the cancer diagnosis. The doctor, with my CT scan results in his hands, looked at me and paused for a moment then he said, “I’m sorry, Ms. Del Sol, you have an advanced form of lymphoma or blood cancer.”

I looked at him in disbelief. He kept talking, but I could not really hear what he was saying; I kept thinking, This is a mistake, this is not happening to me, cancer is what happens to other people but no to people like me! For god’s sake, I have never been even very sick or hospitalized before!

I was in denial.

The scenario was surreal. I was 39 years old, a non-smoker, healthy eater, avid sports fan who exercised almost every day of the week. I had married my fiancé five months before. I had just been promoted to the job of my dreams and relocated to the headquarters of a prestigious multinational company. On all counts, I was right on the peak of my life and career. I felt as if I was going 100 miles per hour and had crashed against an iron wall. At that moment, my life was shattered in pieces and I didn’t know what to do.

Is this it? Am I going to die? Will it be painful and long? What will happen to my loved ones? Oh my God! My husband, my twin sister, my mother!

All these thoughts began bursting at once in my mind. I was terrified, and I didn’t have a clue what was coming next.

My husband came to pick me up and when I sat in the car next to him, I collapsed.

“Baby,” I said to my loving husband crying. “I have cancer — CANCER!” I repeated it raising my voice as if yelling it to myself would make it more real. Visibly in shock, he could not say a word, he hugged me, and I cried, we both did.

Once at home, my mind was in overdrive; I didn’t know where to start, what to do or where to go first. I laid in bed, closed my eyes and told myself, “You will SURVIVE cancer!” I really wanted, needed to believe it. I got up and went to my home office, took a notepad and began writing what in my mind was my surviving strategies, little I knew that right there the natural survivor that was within me began taking control.

I began researching and learning as much as I could about the disease. I wrote down in a notepad every question I wanted to ask my doctors. I looked for second and third opinions. I went to the best ranked hospitals that treated the disease and I heard carefully their medical opinions and recommendations. Little by little, with the help of wonderful professionals and therapists, I decided the integrative route was the right way for me. My surviving strategy was taking shape. I began to feel a bit more in control of my own body and healing journey.

After 14 years, I am still fighting a type of chronic form of follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I have relapsed several times, I have gone through four lines of treatment and a failed medical trial. Due to a compromised and weak immune system, I have contracted serious, deadly infections such as bacterial meningitis, double-COVID pneumonia and many upper respiratory infections. Those recurring infections were and are still one of my biggest challenges since I have managed to keep the cancer under control.

I live with cancer, but I have accomplished a measure of quality in life and control over my own health and my choices. Some of the lessons I learned in this journey are:

1. Be your own advocate. Carry a notepad with you everywhere, and don’t be afraid of asking questions.

2. Watch your mental health and take things one day at a time. Keep in mind every individual and case is unique. You are not a statistic.

3. Integrate traditional medicine w/ alternative medicine with proper professional recommendations. Acupuncture, yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, nutritional diets, juicing, supplements and other non-invasive treatments can help the body to heal. It takes time and work.

4. Finally, believe. You can survive!

This post was written and submitted by a CURE reader. The article reflects the views the author and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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