Any cancer survivor knows after treatment, a recovery period is usually necessary. As a two-time cancer survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma I understand recovery is half the battle. In my first diagnosis at age 16, I underwent heavy doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Part of my protocol was a process called maintenence where I would follow up once a month for a small dose of chemo. By the time I was 18, the maintenance chemo became less demanding and I decided I would, as I(2)Y says “get busy living” and apply to college.
Once I was accepted to Syracuse University, I was excited but nervous about going away to school. Of course, the normal things like living away from home but also some questions regarding my health. For example, where would I go for my last few treatments when I was away at school? How would I get to them if I didn’t have a car? And would I realistically feel well enough to make it to class?
In my first semester at school I faced some struggles but I really jumped in with two feet. I decided I would make up for lost time and join as many clubs and committees as I could. It felt great to be part of this new community. Recovery and survivorship can be the icing on the cake after managing a painful period of your life. But getting back to life after cancer is often different then it was before. When I got to campus I wanted to be active but often would have to put things in perspective. I was often still tired so I went to bed early so I could manage my school day without falling asleep in class. I also had to build up my endurance so I planned plenty of time walking to class since I walked slow and the hills were tough for me at first. The most important thing for me was to understand that after I was past cancer I could resume a normal life, even if I needed to make some routine changes. Each day became easier and life soon felt like normal. This is when I realized my recovery was over and I survived!