The BIG FIVE!
Full Name: Diana Linares
Type of Cancer: Breast Cancer
Hi, I started writing a blog a couple of months ago. The link to my blog is danceaboutit.com. I would love to share the post about celebrating my 5 year remission mark. I have lots of pictures and a video.
We like to think that once the cancer treatment is over the chapter is closed. What most people don’t realize is that it is just the beginning of the book. I remember wishing and praying for all my chemotherapy sessions to be done so I could get back to my “normal” life. With time, I discovered that physical healing wasn’t the only thing I needed to be worried about. The emotional struggle and post-treatment depression continues long after.
After treatment,I felt like I went to war and came back with scars as my medals. I was so grateful and beyond happy for overcoming so much. At the same time I also felt like something was off with me. I tried many times to find my old self, I looked everywhere and I stopped when I realized that the person I used to be wasn’t there anymore.
I was also struggling with finding balance. I believe I had a healthy lifestyle before cancer so after I was diagnosed I didn’t know how to move forward and what changes to make. It was very confusing, especially when the internet is full of non-sense information and it can drive you crazy. I was putting so much pressure on myself trying to be perfect because all I wanted was to stay in remission so I could get to the 5-year mark. Several clinical researches mention that if cancer is going to come back it will most likely be within the first 2-4 years. After the 5th year the risk of recurrence is relatively low, but still it doesn’t mean you are cured. There is just no evidence of the disease in your body. When I asked my Oncologist when will I know if I am cured, he answered with a straight face “When you die from something else”.
I was diagnosed at an age when my friends were getting married and having kids. For me, those priorities were left behind. All I wanted was to stay in remission because without good health I knew I wasn’t going to accomplish all my dreams. I became so obsessed with it and wanting time to go by faster. I did so much soul searching and realized that I wasn’t living in the present, I was just thinking about the future.
I tried my best to slow down a little and celebrate life every time I could. I started travelling, spending more time with the people I love, nurturing my soul and embracing my flaws.I felt deeply in love with every place I visited; Guatemala’s beautiful Atitlan landscape, the heavenly beaches of Galapagos’ Islands, the amazing Chichenitza’s pyramids, the wild side of New Orleans, the beautiful Puerto Rico’s waterfalls, New York’s concrete jungle and the breathtaking sand dunes of Huacachina’s Dessert in Peru. Every single trip, long or short, was an opportunity to marble at something, to connect with nature, learn a new language and adopt interesting cultures. I didn’t want to become that person who is too busy making a life without enjoying it until it’s too late.
The 5-year cancer free mark seemed so far away and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it, but I did. The important thing is that I didn’t do it alone. I have the most amazing parents, friends and support system that motivated me all long. They are my rock, they hold me so tight and never let me go. They are the ones that understand my urge of living because I don’t want to just exist, I want to be fully alive. They are the ones who remind me to be a WARRIOR instead of a worrier. Warriors don’t give up or back-down, they pick up their sword and shield and fight.
I welcome this 5th year mark with a grateful heart, accepting everything that is coming my way, letting go of what is not supposed to stay loving myself and caring about others, understanding that everything should pass because rough times come into our lives to teach us something. I embrace this 5th anniversary knowing that I am a free spirit, a magnet for miracles. Knowing that I am beautiful not because of my face or body, but because I am a happy soul and that chaos stir around me and still, I choose to be alive, to love everyone. I am aware that my soul is my guide and my intuition is my ally. I am proud of myself because I have learned to take tragedies and turn them into an inspiring story. I have learned to look at fear in the eye and choose bravery because there is really no other way to go, giving up is NOT an option.
No, life after cancer is not all rainbows and butterflies. I still get anxiety when I go for scans or the adrenaline when I see that my doctor’s office is calling me. It will probably never go away but I chose to take it a as a reminder of the miracle of being alive and surviving cancer. I chose to transform myself and rise from the ruins just like Rome.
No one tells you that life after cancer is actually the hardest part because you have to live with the collateral damage, you still have anxiety, uncertainty and the fear of recurrence, but just like I found the strength to fight this illness I am sure I will find it to live after it and keep DANCING ABOUT IT with my beautiful army by my side.