COVID-19 won’t stop me…

It has been over a year since I have written here. A lot has happened since, but I think that is to be expected given a year has passed. There have been both highs and lows, but I continue to cherish the highs to get me through the lows.

My cancer returned last fall, but thankfully it is only a small mass in one of the lymph-nodes they left in my pelvic region, so there wasn’t great fear of metastasizing. Treatment was started right away and was going as expected: rough. I faced the fatigue, constant widespread pain, dizziness, and even lost some chunks of hair. These were all things I have faced with my other chemo treatments. Even with the return, I pushed through and continued my college career, determined to finish my senior year and graduate on time. I ended my fall semester with grades I was ecstatic about, given the challenge of cancer treatment again.

Over winter break, I really focused on applying to grad school. Of course I have my dream schools, but for me I wanted to be realistic in cost and distance from home; I don’t want to be at home, but I want to be close enough that I would not hate the drive. I took my chances and applied to one school: Bloomsburg University. Given that I did not have the highest GPA in the class and that my GRE scores were landing me in the mid-percentiles, I knew I was risking it only applying to one, but I went through with it anyway. In the beginning of March, I received an email from the graduate admissions office and I held my breath as I opened it. I had to reread it a few times to grasp the fact that I was accepted into their Audiology Doctoral program and that my college career is going to continue in the upcoming fall. This was the highest of highs that I have experienced this school year as I was not sure if it was really going to happen, but here I am!

Around that time, before my spring break, COVID-19 was really starting to make an appearance and I was one of the students that thought we would not be returning to in class teaching after spring break. Still going through treatment, my oncology team didn’t want me returning whether classes continued in person or not. Preparing not to return after spring break, I packed my car to the brim with everything I could fit; I knew I would need a second trip, but the less I had to get later, the better. Spring break began with everyone boarding flights and getting in their cars heading out for their vacation while I was home gathering the supplies I would need to protect myself like gloves, hand sanitizer, and face masks. I knew that once this picked up speed, there would be panic buying, and sure enough, that’s how it went down.

Mid-break, we all received the email stating that our spring break was extended while other schools were already going online for the remainder of the semester. With so many students still thinking we would return, I took this time to go pack up the remainder of my things, and I am thankful I did. Half way into the second week of our break, they announced the semester would continue online and all hell broke loose with all the students trying to get all their things packed and home. At this point, all my things were home and I was prepared to be home for awhile.

The week our classes started, was also the week that my final round of chemo started up. This week is my third week out of eight total. The side effects have already started to settle in with fatigue, pain, and nausea being the top three. It sucks, but I am so thankful to be home for this whole round. I am also thankful that classes are online so I can still finish my final semester, while finishing my final round of chemo. If all goes as planned, my last final will be on May 8, chemo will end May 15, and surgery will be sometime the week following.

Yes, I have already been down the road of “this is my last chemo” on two different occasions, but this time I truly have faith that this will be it for me. That this will be the time that I get to say goodbye to cancer and hello to life as a survivor. I have these plans to celebrate graduation and surviving chemo by going on a trip and skydiving this summer, but with COVID-19, those may need to be put on hold, but that is ok. It will not stop my from reaching my goals and celebrating my accomplishments. It will not stop me from planning for my future. It will not stop me from enjoying the simple moments. Nothing can stop me but myself, and I do not plan on stopping anytime soon. I still have a life to live, but I will continue to do it in a way that not only protects myself, but those around me. So for now, I can be found at home looking forward to what my future holds..

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