Do you ever pretend cancer never happened?
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia made John more mature. And when he was cured, he understood his potential. Now, his suggestion is clear: do not deny your illness.
I was only 9 years old when I was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (A.L.L). All that follow this are well known by everybody who has lived such an experience: hospitals, examinations, doctors, treatments. I will not speak about my experience in hospital but about what it happened afterwards and the way that my health’s “adventure” changed my life.
A different person
All this process made me a different person. The most obvious changes were the exterior. I grew taller and I gained several kilos. Not as obvious as the first but surely much bigger and deeper were my internal changes. It took till my 15 when I began to realise what had happened to me. I began to observe that I didn’t have the crisis that a child in my age supposed to have.
Everything was different for me because I was seeing in a different way. I was more objective and more mature. All these that I saw, I heard, I learned and I lived, created a different perception of the way that I see everything around me. For a child, when it happens to grow so abruptly and to confront so early such situations, there are equal probabilities: cancer to be “to his profit” or to destroy him. Fortunately in my case the first happened.
One of the thoughts that I still make is how I would be now if all these had not happened. Of course, I wouldn’t like this to be interpreted as a regret of having cancer. I never made this thought: "Why me?“. I was only wondering “Why only me?” but I now wish to be only me.
All aids that I then accepted and that I still accept were and still are a big support for me, and in certain difficult moments it was this hand of help that everybody needs. All these persons that stood by us, in any position, made my stay in hospital seem shorter and more tolerable.
Going home: is anything the same?
In my later life everything turned out well. It didn’t have any relapse or metastasis or any other general ¦hitch¦. I also didn’t face any disapproval or dislike by my friends, relatives and familiar persons.
From the first moment when I went back home and started the process of my socialization and integration back in my everyday routine, I had been afraid about how my life would be. “I would be the same person as before?”, “I could do the same things that I was doing before?” and other such questions and doubts.
The answer was that I couldn’t do what I was doing before because I simply could do other, better things. I had grown older and my interests had changed and this was what I hadn’t realise. Having a “new” body (height and weight), I was able to do much more and with the maturity that I had acquired I could do all these in a better way.
Accept the past, do not hide it
Initially without any personal special effort all around had a harmony and were looked in a balance. Some aftsomeyears later, this began to oscillate and then I understood that I should also do something in order to maintain this balance. I tried, then, a lot of alternatives but in the end one was that offered me the desirable result: All that I had lived and experienced was not something that I could forget thus simply and just continue my life. I should accept my illness and adapt it in my life. I believe that this is the most important that I gained… it is not to your benefit to hide your past and your illness but you should completely accept it.
If I have something to say to the children that are ill at the present is never to pretend that cancer is something that they haven’t ever met in their life because cancer for those who have suffered by it is a piece of themselves and by denying it, the only thing you achieve is to deny your own self.