“My Voice” by Angela Van Treuren

Angela Van Treuren - 'Survivor'

I am just three months into my cancer journey, and I know that I am already a survivor!

I had no symptoms, I had no signs that anything was going on. On September 11, 2009 I went in for my routine annual physical, on September 18 I received the call that something was abnormal. On November 4 I received the call indicating they had found a rare small cell carcinoma of the cervix. At 29, cancer was the least of my worries. I have a successful job, live in a place that I love and have a wonderful family. My biggest worry was finding the right person to share this life with and whether or not I should splurge for the grande calorie filled latte. All of a sudden that latte decision was replaced with multiple biopsy surgeries, PET CT scans and a plethora of doctor appointments. Mr. Right would have to wait too….sorry buddy hold my latte please.

After determining that the cancer had not spread, it was time to start chemotherapy. December 7, just barely one month after “the call”, my sister and I walked into the hospital for my first round of chemo. Reflecting now, it’s amazing how fast it has all happened. In 3 months time, I have had 3 scans, 5 surgeries, been introduced to at least 6 doctors and don’t forget the partridge in a pear tree! I will undergo 4 rounds of 3 day chemo sessions. We make the most of treatments. My sister and I play UNO and hangman; and at moments laugh until we cry. We have begun to make friends with some of the other patients and I am feeling a true sense of calm, peace and joy in the infusion suite.

As I write this, I am recovering from round 2 of chemo, which means I am half way done! I celebrated the New Year with a nap, but that will never hold me back. Nor will I allow it to define the year I will have. As for the physical implications of treatment, know this-it passes. Everyone will say it, but it is so important to remember. Don’t fear the very momentary set back of needing to sleep a little bit, pace yourself and listen to the advice of your doctors. This is time for you to take care of you!

This has become my journey of hope; I stay far away from calling my cancer a “diagnosis.” Instead, this has become the wake up call that I needed to find direction in my life! How awesome of an opportunity is that to have! I have chosen to not allow fear to overtake this time in my life. I have chosen to say to this journey that I will embrace it, and I will overcome, and I will be a survivor now and always!

Something that I learned very quickly is that you get what you allow to be given.  Never allow your doctors to be completely without hope. Do not allow your friends and family members to crumble around you. If you need a moment to fall apart that’s ok-but if they need to fall apart they need to do it when they are not in your presence. The only feelings you should surround yourself with are love, joy, peace and gratitude. Make affirmations to yourself constantly and give thanks for the blessings in your life. Take small moments of joy when you see a rainbow or feel the wind against your cheek. You will hear recommendations like this so many times, but I’ve learned the reason so many people say them is because it’s true!!! I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped to “smell the roses” until now, and what an amazing feeling it is to do!

I am a huge fan of “words.”  I love it when I run across a quote that can help define a moment of time in my life. I ran across one recently that literally stopped me in my tracks. “In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” ~Albert Camus.  It is so true. In the winter of 2009, I have learned that inside me is a life that is going to be lived and will live on. My wake up call will not be taken for granted.  This is my opportunity to praise God for the life he has given to me. This is my opportunity to slow down or speed up; whatever I want to do!

From this point, I may need more surgery or physical treatments-I don’t know. But what I do know is that it is all ok. I will let the doctors do what they need to do, I will do what I need to do-which is to focus on me and this beautiful life! My name is Angela, and I am a survivor!