What I've Learned That Cancer Cannot Do

What I've Learned That Cancer Cannot Do

I would never have expected that something as disgusting as cancer could be a learning experience that I could not have gotten anywhere else.

This past Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of when I finished chemotherapy. My "Chemo-versary!" Not only is it the two-year anniversary of when I finished chemo, but later on this year, it will be 10 years since my first surgery.

Prior to my first surgery and even during the past few years, I always viewed cancer as the end-all-be-all. That it would forever leave a negative effect on my life and that it would follow me around like a dark shadow pushing into every part of my life.

For some reason, I was, for lack of a better word, ashamed of all that I had experienced. I thought that people would see me only as the person that has cancer and that every time that I spoke about it, they would roll their eyes thinking, what else would we expect.

Over the years, I have come to realize and accept that part of that is true. I was right in thinking that there is no way to keep cancer from spreading into every part of my life. That is how much of an effect that it has made in my life.

That isn't a bad thing or something to be ashamed of, though. I don't think of it as a dark shadow anymore. I now see it as a light to follow that has guided me to who I am today and who I will become. I would never have expected that something as disgusting as cancer could be a learning experience that I could not have gotten anywhere else.

My Nana has a newspaper clipping on her refrigerator about what cancer cannot do.

When I first read that many years ago, I thought that it was kind of ridiculous. However, thinking about that prayer or poem that she has, it is absolutely so true and it has taken three cancer reoccurrences to teach me that.

Cancer is unable to cripple love, kill friendship or suppress memories. I am closer to my family and friends than ever before. The amount of love that I was shown from them and even from people that I didn't know at all was absolutely amazing. I have a newer appreciation for my family and friends in my life, and there is no way that I can put into words how thankful I am for all of them — for every single person that has helped me through the past many years.

It cannot shatter hope, dissolve faith, destroy peace or steal eternal life. My faith is stronger than ever. Even though it was tested MANY times over the past 10 years, I know that God has a reason for putting me through all of it. I am studying to be a nurse because I want to be able to help kids and their families that are dealing with their own battles, just like the great nurses at my hospital helped me. I would not have even considered becoming a nurse if I hadn't gone through what I had. I strongly believe that God used all that I had gone through to guide me down the path that He had set for me.

It cannot silence courage or conquer the spirit. I am who I am today because of the disgusting disease. I was brave and kept going because that was the only thing to do. I chose to not be a victim of cancer not just because I got through it, but because I didn't let it stop me from doing what I loved and living my life. Since I was fortunate to make it out healthy, I am using my experience of battling cancer to make a difference. There is extremely little education and funding for pediatric cancer. We formed the Go for Gabs team and every year since my second diagnosis in 2010, my family, friends and I have done a different race or event to raise money to donate to pediatric cancer research.

I have no idea whether or not I will have to go through all of it again. If I do, though, I sure as heck know that because of all that I have come to learn about what cancer cannot do, I will add to that list that it cannot stop me.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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I Stopped Taking My ADHD Medication And It Made Me 10 Times Happier

Many people with ADHD choose to medicate to manage their symptoms, but that choice is not without any negative side effects.


When I was 7 years old, I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

I was in the third grade and falling behind in nearly every subject and my teachers were losing hope. I endured several weeks of testing before being diagnosed, but even more weeks of medication testing after I was diagnosed. Once it had been determined that I responded positively to medication, I began taking Concerta.

I took Concerta every day from fourth grade on to my freshman year of college.

About every three years, I would start taking a stronger dosage and every time my dosage increased, I experienced more and more negative side effects of the drug.

Common side effects people experience when they take ADHD medications are altered personalities. The meds make you feel more reserved and uncomfortable. You are constantly on alert and this makes one feel very self-conscious. Another side effect of ADHD meds is suppression of identifying personality traits and strong emotions. Many people, including myself, report feeling robot or zombie-like. All of these side effects disappeared when I stopped taking Concerta.

Around the beginning of my first year of college, I considered stopping medicating.

College is a fresh start and I was beginning to wonder what not medicating would feel like. I had become so used to the way Concerta made me feel, I did not know what it felt like to truly be myself. So, after being medicated from 2008-2017, I stopped taking my ADHD pills.

At first, I didn't feel much of a difference, but as time went on I began feeling happier. I found myself to be more outgoing and social. I have always been considered a warm, approachable person, but this was different. People began commenting on how often I was smiling, my friend group was expanding, I began feeling more confident in myself and speaking in public.

During the fall semester of my sophomore year, I began experiencing the symptoms of my ADHD on a whole new level. I was having extreme difficulty paying attention in class, trouble completing all my assignments in a timely fashion, forgetting simple things, and more.

I felt like my grades were suffering and I was worried not medicating was compromising the quality of my education because I no longer had pills to help me manage my symptoms, so I started medicating once again.

At the start of my sophomore winter semester, I began taking Concerta again in hopes my educational experience would improve. While school was easier to manage, I could not stand the way the meds were making me feel. I experienced intense migraines, loss of interest in any/all activities I once enjoyed, I stopped eating, and my friends often commented on how dull I seemed. Due to all the negative side-effects of starting my medication again, I got rid of them for good.

Over a year has gone by since I first made the choice to give up my medication.

School is a lot harder and paying attention takes significantly more energy, but I would not trade any of my ADHD struggles for the feeling of finally being free from the methylphenidate based drug used to treat my disorder. For the first time since third grade, I feel like myself and I am proud of who I am and who I am becoming.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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