Let me start out by saying that when I was 15, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and went through numerous rounds of chemo and an antibody, both with painful side effects.
Today, however, I look like an ordinary college student with pretty good grades that eats lunch/dinner with the same guy every day. I have a full head of hair that has grown back even thicker than before, which is saying something because before I lost it all, it was like a birds nest. I sleep a lot, watch way too much Netflix and could never imagine life without Spotify Premium.
Four years ago, I was far from this girl. I spent all my time sleeping not because I could, but because I had to. It made the pain go away and I wasn't puking, I was basically stuck in the house; I didn't hear "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten until it had become a viral sensation. When I heard it for the first time, my sister knew all the words and my mom could hum along. I couldn't go out with friends, so they had to come to my house and half the time I had to wear a mask.
Anyway, that is in the past, or so I had hoped. However, life doesn't always give us what we want.
One day in class, someone was talking about how having cancer would suck and I guess I said something to the effect of, "Yeah, I would know". The girl who sits next to me straight up told me, "You didn't have cancer."
I instantly went defensive and began to show her my port scar and my tattoo that I got in honor of beating cancer. I showed her all the proof I could find and she says, "Wow, I'm so sorry."
That night when I talked to my mom as I do every night, I told her about this and how I couldn't believe that someone would think I was joking about something as serious as cancer. Except I should believe it because it's not the first time someone has questioned it. There was one time I was sitting in church before a prayer service with my youth group during my junior or senior year and one of the freshmen didn't believe me when I said I had cancer. Luckily, almost everyone sitting with us knew the truth and backed me up. It just frustrates me so much that people would think I was lying about something so serious.
I'm truly sorry that I don't look like I belong in a hospital. I'm sorry that my hair grew back and I can actually participate in activities that can affect my no longer compromised immune system. I'm sorry that I'm only 19, but that shouldn't matter. If I was a 40-year-old woman, would you question me?
No. You would write it off as being something that happens every day. Funny thing is, young adult and teenage cancer are more popular than ever before and people are finally realizing that we are our own category. We aren't adults and we aren't little kids. We understand most of what the doctors say and go through tests by ourselves, but we usually have our parents nearby.
I experienced this and still do anytime I go for checkups because, despite the fact that I'm only 19, I had and beat cancer.