When I was diagnosed with stage four Adrenocortical carcinoma (in December 2019), I felt so alone. I was livid. I was terrified. I felt like I was being punished. All of sudden, my life was in disarray. I had so many plans and being a cancer patient wasn’t one of them. At that point, I couldn’t fathom something positive coming out of this diagnosis. I thought my life was over and I just needed to accept my reality.
My perspective changed once I stopped throwing myself a pity party. I started connecting with other cancer patients, survivors and their families. During the pandemic, all communication with these people was on the internet. My friend Tamica messaged me one night asking if I’d be attending Cancercon. I had never heard of such an event. I was intrigued.
A couple weeks later, I was on a flight to Minneapolis. I had no idea what to expect, but I was in desperate need of an adventure. Meeting internet friends is always so nerve wracking for me. What if you don’t connect the same way, or they’re just on their phone, or they’re boring? I was exhausted when I arrived at my hotel room, but too anxious to nap. Tamica would be arriving shortly after me. I honestly never thought we’d have the opportunity to actually meet. It felt like a dream. Thankfully, we clicked. She’s the yin to my yang. We sat alone at the welcome reception the first night. By the time karaoke started, we were laughing and joking with new friends.
Some of the breakout sessions were hard to handle. They brought up emotions and thoughts I tried to avoid. I realized I was in a safe place and that my peers understood what I’d been through. We allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and honest. By the end of the weekend, I was wishing it was the first day again. I didn’t want to leave my new friends. I finally felt seen.
At this point, I’m truly blown away by my own resilience and personal growth. Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of my journey.
By : Jennifer Schuh