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Life

HOW TAKING MY HEALTH INTO MY OWN CARE SAVED MY LIFE

From before my diagnosis to middle of treatment, I captured my journey through photos.

THE STORY LEADING UP TO MY CANCER DIAGNOSIS …

I am fortunate to say that I had great health as a child and teenager. My parents would only serve me fresh organic food and make sure I took my vitamins everyday. I had so much energy and always stayed active. The only thing I wrestled with was cystic acne and digestive issues due to my intolerance to lactose. I thought these problems were difficult to manage, but it was not until halfway throughout college that I got a sense of what health complications really looked like; my life completely turned upside down.

It all started in the beginning of my sophomore year. The second semester something frightening happened to me. I started to experience unforeseen anxiety, developed rashes all over my chest and back, and had night sweats which caused me to wake up in damp pajamas in the middle of the night. I knew something in my body was not right. It was not until a lymph node the size of a golfball popped up above my collarbone (March 2017) that I started to become very concerned. I was very confused and immediately dismissed myself from the room, went to the lavatory, took a photo of myself in the mirror and sent it to my mother. She suggested I go to the medical center on campus.

After taking blood tests and receiving the reports back, I was told that nothing was wrong and I was told that my body was probably fighting off a virus. They had suggested I visit an ENT at home just to make sure I was okay. During my visit with this doctor, I went through a series of exams including: a nasoendoscopy, MRI, and fine-needle biopsy. The results: negative, negative, and negative. Even my internist said there was nothing wrong with me. I thought this was peculiar. I let my fears release themselves as I complied to the medical professionals.

Still, deep down I knew something was wrong. My parents agreed. I figured it would be a good idea to get further testing (August 2017) before going back to school and traveling abroad for a semester with my classmates. I went to another ENT and was told within seconds that the size was abnormally large and that the area it was in was concerning. He said I needed to go in for surgery, that I could not let it wait any longer. Although I was afraid to go under the knife, I knew that it was the best thing for my health. I scheduled a biopsy, and a week later my pathology report came back positive (September 2017). I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had to start chemotherapy right away. I was 19, and was not ready for this battle. Needless to say, I persevered and survived.

If it was not for me to listen to my intuition and keep visiting doctors, I would have not come to this diagnosis. Who knows how long I would have gone without the answers I needed. The situation could have gotten worse and my prognosis could have been more serious. With that, I encourage you to also take your life into your own hands if you feel like something is wrong. Fight for your health because your life is worth living!

You can read my full story here.

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Mindset power to persevere

Author Your Own Story

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen…yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.

— BRADLEY WHITFORD

What I have learned from going through my traumatic experience of cancer is that after hitting rock bottom, there really is nowhere else to go but up. This is the lowest point any of us can visit. The only way out is up. This is your time to “Reach for the sky,” as Woody from Toy Story puts it.

Sometimes it is difficult to change your mindset. I battled with pessimism from time to time and had moments of doubt, that cancer would come back. I knew that I would be free from my emotional pain if I stayed consistent by creating positive affirmations, like I discussed previously, but more specifically if I scripted the life I wanted to live in the future.

Purchasing a notebook and practicing this form of writing prospective feelings in present tense onto paper encouraged me to believe that a cancer-free life was possible. It continued to keep my faith high. Sure enough, it worked. To this day, anytime something dreadful happens to me, I turn to my pen and notepad and start to jot down feelings I want to experience in the future.

The reason I hand wrote phrases was because it had the most effectiveness. A study done by Indiana University stated that writing by hand “increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, much like meditation.” We read how meditation had scientific success, so why not try this practice as well? You can reinvent your story with the simple activity of scripting. I wrote down all the positive moments I wished to experience, worked toward them, and then experienced the outcomes.

Here are some of the few phrases I wrote down:

  • I am fueling myself with foods that are helping heal and regenerate my body and am grateful for how much they are energizing me and allowing me to prosper.
    • I am proud of myself for living my life through strength.
    • I feel humbled by the way I am helping heal others and am successfully living my dreams and changing the world.

Read the rest in Power to Persevere here.

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With love,

AC

Connect with me!

Instagram: @alexacuc

Email: alexacucc@gmail.com

Categories
Mindset power to persevere

Vulnerability as a Virtue

A lot of people would agree that becoming vulnerable is like showing your weakness. What those people do not understand is that it takes a lot of strength and courage to show your true self. It might be one of the most difficult phenomena, but when you express your innermost self, there is no stress. You free yourself from the proverbial weight on your shoulders.

Sometimes we can associate vulnerability with a lack of control or power, but it actually displays great grit. It gives us an opportunity to turn something heavy into something light and manageable. Our secrets can become a sanctuary of safety for others.

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One afternoon at a local store, my cashier complimented me on my buzz cut. I was flattered and accepted her compliment with grace. As I accepted my receipt and started to gather my bags to leave, she continued to speak to me. She shared with me that she also had her head buzzed. “I lost all of my hair to breast cancer over twenty years ago,” she said. I paused and looked at her.

She was my light of hope at that moment. The fact that she was standing alive to this day, cancer-free, made me start to tear up. There was something that motivated me to share my story with her on why my head was buzzed.

She inspired me to take pride in my flaw, to become vulnerable. I told her that my hairstyle was not by choice, but rather because I had cancer and was currently undergoing chemotherapy.

She started to share with me the beauty of coming out on the other side, and encouraged me to keep my faith high because I was going to be okay. At the same time, another woman overheard the conversation and came up to us. She shared with me that she also had cancer. If it was not for these two ladies, I would have never felt comforted by this sense of community when I was the most distraught. With that, I encourage you to share your story to someone else.

How will you be vulnerable?

With love,

AC

Connect with me!

Instagram: @alexacuc

Email: alexacucc@gmail.com