Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 43

Teen Cancer America partners with hospitals throughout the United States to develop specialized facilities and services
for teens and young adults with cancer.
They build teen-friendly environments,
enhancing the hospital experience. They
develop standards for age-targeted care,
improve collaboration between pediatric
and adult specialists and enable dedicated research to improve outcomes and
survival for our young people.

me that there was a before, and I am now
hyper-aware of the after I am living in. And
while I've gotten better at getting a hold on
those thoughts as opposed to letting them
eat me alive for the remainder of my days,
it doesn't feel as though this transition back
to " real life " ever ended. It's still happening
and I'm still learning to love the me that I
am today. We are not and will never be who
we were before cancer, and that's okay. It's
something I still have to actively accept on a
day-to-day basis, and even though it doesn't
always work, I want people to know that
there is no blueprint and while that's pretty
frickin' scary, it's okay. Unfortunately this is
rarely taught to us and is hopefully among
the things we learn. Sometimes I wish I could
go back in time and give myself a little nudge
like, " Hey, y'know what, you  are  going to
miss out on things but that's just your life
right now and eventually it won't be. " Even
though I can't actually do that, at least it's
what I'm thinking now.
It was all painful, it still is, and I am here,
almost 5 years later. I still deal with mental
health issues, medical issues, and the fact that
a majority of the people in my life will never
fully understand what I've gone through.
Sometimes I feel like my fight didn't begin
until I found out I was going to live, but no
one can fight 24/7. If I had to give any sort
of advice to someone in that beginning transition stage, I would definitely say rest. You
deserve it. l

Sometimes I feel like
my fight didn't begin
until I found out I was
going to live, but no
one can fight 24/7. If
I had to give any sort
of advice to someone
in that beginning
transition stage... rest.
You deserve it.

Photo: Courtesy of Teen Cancer America

19, going on 20, and so were all my friends,
so was my boyfriend at the time. We had
no idea how to handle something like this.
I lost a lot in the first year after I was officially discharged for my cancer treatment.
I lost my partner, I lost some friends, I lost
my mind several times. I was on medications
that had emotional side effects and if you
mix that with trauma you get a whole lot of
thoughts and behaviors which make you feel
(and look) crazy. But what's important to me
now is that when I look back at myself, I see
this severely injured being who maybe just
didn't have the right support around them at
the time. I have to be softer with them, care
for them the way they didn't allow anyone to
care for them. And I have to remember with
all my heart that nothing was my fault, nor
my parents, nor my friends. Sh*tty things
happen and they happened to us.
When initially writing this piece, I started
over 5 or more times. There is so much I could
write in response to any prompt or question.
I feel like my whole diagnosis, treatment,
and life afterwards is important to any and
all aspect of my experience with cancer. So
yeah, even when you're done reading what
someone's written or listening to what they've
said, there is always so much more. The truth
is I never stop thinking about everything
that's happened over the past almost 5 years,
which as you can imagine messes with someone's mental health and how they interact
with others. There are reminders all around

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who are the driving force behind Teen
Cancer America. After over a decade working with Teenage Cancer Trust in the
UK, the duo decided to bring their passion across the pond in 2012 and make a
difference in the lives of teens and young adults with cancer in the United States.
www.teencanceramerica.org

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2020

43


http://www.teencanceramerica.org http://www.elephantsandtea.com

Elephants And Tea - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - December 2020

Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 1
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 3
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 4
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 5
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Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover3
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