Inspiration and motivation, Young Cancer Survivors, Article

OACCUs challenge: Annie's contribution

OACCUs challenge: Annie's contribution
I was only 10 months old when I first got sick and 4 years the second time. I do not know what my life would have looked like if I never got sick, but I know that I am living a good life now. I am today a qualified teacher with a class of my own. I am married, living in a terrace house with my family and our dog. I am a mum, a dream I've always had, which I for a long time did not know if it ever would come true. 

I do not know if it is good or bad, but I do not know who I was before my cancer, and the extensive treatments. I was so young when I got sick, so for me it is just an after. I survived cancer twice and of course I am grateful for that. However, I do not just want to survive, I want to live my life to the fullest! To be able to do that, I need to be open and honest with myself and my surroundings and ask for help when needed. 

As a young girl I did not  get the help and adaptations that I would have needed. Me and my parents were struggling within a society where there was little to no knowledge about late complications and we were usually met with condescending and arrogant treatment. I don’t know if this has shaped me as a person. But I have always tried to do everything on the same terms as everyone else. It requires so much more of me and my energy. The energy I often lack when my brain quickly gets tired. As a mother, I always have to make sure that I have enough energy for my son while working 100% and to be able to do that, I sometimes need to ask for help. 

Life is sometimes tough and for me as a cancer survivor it may be tougher than for others, but I still strive to achieve my goals and it is my responsibility to make sure I succeed. I do not have the same conditions as many others. Therefore, if I am going to do everything that others do and in the same way as them, I am set up for failure. But I am not alone. I am surrounded by people who can and want to support and help me both in my everyday life and professionally, and if I were to give one piece of advice to myself as a young person, it would be: “Be open and ask for help”. 

Those of us who have survived childhood cancer sometimes have an uphill battle. We do not have the same conditions as others and my experience is that we are often met with ignorance. We are all different individuals who have different needs, but we have the same right to succeed as everyone else. We shouldn't apologize for what we can't do, we have to be kind to ourselves and understand that our special needs are due to something we can't influence, but if we put our needs into words and ask for help, there is often help available. 

I would never have survived my cancer without the help of the healthcare system. But neither without my will to fight. I have cheated death twice and can cope with most things, but not without the help of others. I may have to realize and accept that my life will be more complete and less difficult if I accept the help I can get! Be brave and ask for help when needed! 

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