Imagine for a moment, it is a normal day, and you are on your way to a doctor’s appointment for your yearly physical. It is going to be just another day and this appointment won’t take too long. What usually takes no more than 20 minutes turns into 2 hours at the doctor’s office. Your doctors have found something unusual and want to get some tests done. Sure, let’s just go along with it, it is probably just some kind of infection. But then you’re referred to a specialist, and somehow, reality has not set in yet. Then I heard the words that changed my life forever, “Minh, we both know what this is.” It was in that exact moment I knew I had cancer. Cancer? Me? How is that possible? I’m only 24 years old…
Everything was about to change, the world as I had known, would never be the same. I lived in denial for a long time, continuing with my “normal” life, and going to treatment was just part of the deal. The moment I watched my hair fall out, was the moment I realized, “this is real; cancer is real.” As a woman, my hair had always been very important to me. It was then that I realized, I could no longer run. I had to face my fears.
I wore a wig for years hoping people didn’t know how bad it was for me. I became so good at hiding, that no one really knew I had gone bald. No one understood the pain I felt. I pretended to be okay, to be strong, but deep down I felt weak and scared. How could I be surrounded by so many people, but yet feel so alone?
For the next 4 years my faith and strength were tested. Somehow in the midst of such darkness, I found the strength to fight. I had my whole life ahead of me and I was too young to die! I fought a disease I never imagined that I’d be diagnosed with and I found the strength inside me to keep fighting. Cancer would not get the best of me. The vision I had for my life and the goals that I set out to achieve would be accomplished. I would win.
Looking back, I would not change a thing about my life. I learned to look at having cancer as a blessing because it taught me to appreciate life, and what truly mattered. During my time of darkness, I never gave up because I held onto hope. Hope was the one thing that cancer could not take away from me. I was determined to beat this ugly disease so that, one day, I could tell my story and help others through difficult times. I have always thought that if my story could help just one person, then that’s all that mattered to me.
I was diagnosed on September 25th, 2008, a day that changed my life, but a day that I now celebrate as my Survivor Day.
“Live one day at a time.”
“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” (Quote from author, Chris Bradford)