|By Ms. Jovanna Kahn*|
I had envisioned my twenties to be full of 'life's big challenges; a degree, a small enterprise of my own, getting married to the man I would fall in love with, may be even have a lot of children of my own. Never did I know that another challenge lay ahead in my life that would transform a little girl into a warrior.
I have always tried to be a virtuous daughter. I am an anti-smoker, a pure environmentalist, no drinking. While girls my age chased their latest love interests, I preferred reading books. I had a great childhood many toys and a healthy lifestyle. I never knew that my quiet life would turn into a battle and me into a warrior.
After my 23 rd birthday I started feeling sick, weakness and persistent cough prevailed. I went to many doctors we knew and was given antibiotics, flu tabs and allergy medicines. Slowly I sensed something was wrong-my sixth sense became active and with basic medical knowledge I started having the hunch that it's 'CANCER'.
During my last year of my MBA degree I had three months of coughing. My diagnosis-X-ray revealed a mass in my chest. I then had a CT for further investigation and a chest biopsy. I felt the cancer cells poisoning my blood. After much debate the doctors concluded surgical extraction of mass and diagnosed the tumor as malignant. I started mentally preparing for surgery, went into deep prayer and meditation asking GOD to grant Paradise if I didn't make it.
My Father decided to take me to Europe for the operation. I was taken to a place of which I had no experience or emotions for. Having reached our destination the case was re-evaluated concluded that I had 'Hodgkin's lymphoma'—I had no problem accepting it but my family was shattered. My main concern was that is it curable and whether I will ever be NORMAL again -My oncologist promised me that.
What inspired me to go through the ordeal was my Parents immense support, belief in GOD, support from our family friends and my oncologist.
Cancer doesn't care what dreams are, it doesn't care that you are not married and do not have children. It doesn't care that you are an Asian or westerner-It doesn't care that you still haven't found your ideal man.
My treatment commenced consisting of 4 cycles (2 chemo per cycle) of ABVD.
Following Chemo, I had 17 sessions of radiation which was't that bad but did give me a sore throat and fatigue but I was ecstatic to be ALIVE.
I responded very well all praises to GOD and I credit this to my oncologist and dear friend Dr.Vincent*.He made the entire process positive and saved me when I was about to slip into depression.
Coming to a foreign land, having this illness showed me things had been searching for years; honestly it is the small things I noticed, like I was no longer scared to take chances, of sleeping with lights off or scared of swimming alone in the pool- I also learned that that love is the greatest thing GOD has made for us humans-it was love that inspired and healed me. And love is not owning a person but touching ones life forever.
Once my treatment was over, I needed a way to continue to be involved but due to my short stay I couldn't do much. Once back home I discovered that this disease is still a taboo in society and there is no propogation.This makes me feel lonely so I surf the net all reliable cancer sites and collect info for my research. But I really wish to get in touch with other survivors like me for support and inspiration.
My Life Now
I am battling with aches and fatigue that don't seem to leave me alone plus 3 month follow-up check-ups and tests. I feel isolated because I cannot contribute in any cancer awareness activities in my country.
I continue to be as virtuous as I was before.
Having survived treatment doesn't mean the battle is over-another battle has begun; the fight to have an equal share in this life with other people; the fight to stand up for our rights-I know I cannot change the fact that I had lymphoma but I can work to make my life better than before and for others through awareness and support. I do refuse to accept that just because I'm a survivor and doesn't know how long I'll be alive that I compromise my whole life-I will not give up on studying further.
I am proud to be a survivor and I cannot give up on loving my ideal man and marry just anyone who comes along and accepts me. I can not stop dreaming so GOD help me. Amen
About the Author
Ms. Kahn lives and loves in Saudi Arabia.
*name changed for privacy