More or less a year ago now, my whole world fell apart. Suddenly I looked at myself, I was under 40 and thinking whether my life had been worth it. I thought so, I thought I had achieved everything (or almost everything) I had ever wanted, but… now, what? Was that everything there was for me?
It was a very difficult moment, the kind of moment when you, a person who never even thought could be “the one” to go through this, have to take the courage to admit you have been diagnosed with an illness about which you’ve only heard that is deadly and which has consequences to your body and life that will stay with you forever.
Now that I’ve gone through this I can say that only two of those three things are true. First, nowadays most patients recover from this; thus the importance of self-examination and early diagnosis. Second, your body changes, yes, but not as a consequence of the illness but because of the treatments which are temporary. To put it plain and simple: for some time you won’t have a single hair in your body, you’ll probably gain weight (although many people think the opposite is what normally happens), your whole body will ache most days and you will feel tired, exhausted really. But one day, sooner or later, everything will be over. Last but not least, the thing that will actually change: your life, the way you see things in life. You’ll start focusing on what you really want in your life and you’ll learn to enjoy moments more, enjoy the things you like and you’ll start living life and enjoying every single moment much more.
My cancer caught me in a moment which was not my best personal moment to face the illness. It’s never a good time, but still people recommend all sorts of good things so you keep a positive attitude and put on a happy face when they tell you “you cannot have your treatment today because we’re in the middle of a pandemic and we’re treating COVID-19 patients”. At home we decided to take very good care of our close friends and we adopted the decision of what I call a “self-lockdown”. No one had recommended that to me, but with the pandemic and the virus around and taking into account that I was in the middle of treatment which literally destroyed my immune system, we thought we’d rather minimise risks.
Over that time the only activity that I did once a week were those online rehearsals with my choir. Fortunately for some and unfortunately for others, meeting in person to sing was not a possibility so we had to do it from home and well, I must say that for me it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me at that time. I thought that, although I didn’t have enough strength not even to sing, I could use those sessions to at least take out all that stress I had inside, I enjoyed the moment, I felt happy and most important, I could keep in touch with my friends from the choir and talk to different people, I could share with them. The reality was that I was at home trying to sing, because I was doing what I could but I knew it was not enough. Anyway, that was my moment, definitely the best moment of the week for me.
Soon after that I started feeling less scared and I decided that staying home feeling the pain in my body would only make it hurt more, so I started going out. I never stopped going to rehearsals. Because of the situation we rehearsed in groups sometimes, in the concerts we were all separated from each other and wearing masks, but the School stayed strong and so did I. It wasn’t the most comfortable way to sing, but the possibility of at least singing and sharing with the group kept me busy, I felt I had something to do, something to share and enjoy. What I mean with all this is that being part of this choir was really my therapy. You disconnect, you socialize, and you share something as beautiful as it is singing, and besides, you sing to God, you talk to the Lord through songs and you understand that there is always a goal in everything you do, that everything happens for a reason. You learn to value each moment, enjoy every moment and leave all unimportant things aside.
The month of October is considered the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the “pink month”. Well, cancer is not pink and it will never be, no matter how positive you are. I’d say cancer is darker, s*** colour. October 19th is World Breast Cancer Day so, examine yourself, tell your mum, your sister and your girlfriends to do it as well. Also your dad, your brother, your boyfriends, because this is not something just women should worry about. So, if one they they tell you “you’re the one”, well, at least you’ll be diagnosed early. And, by the way, don’t forget the most important thing: never stop doing what you like, not for anyone or anything, not even if you feel weak, because those things might be precisely what gives you the energy you need to carry on.