One In A Million

November 13, 2016

Recently, a student at a local high school reached out to Teal Diva in hopes of working together for her Senior Project. The topic she chose explored Rare Cancer Research and Awareness.  After reaching out, we spent time piecing together ideas that would embody her project topic.  She volunteered at a few ovarian {k}ancer community events which allowed her to meet survivors of various gynecologic {k}ancers and family members impacted.  But we were still trying to tie it all together.  In one of our conversations, Sarah told me it was a goal of hers to become a writer. And well, with that in mind, I thought the blog would be an excellent fit.  She was given three assignments for the blog.  The following post is the beginning.  She will explain what her topic was and the interesting twist the assignment took as she began her research.  So, without further ado......divas and gents, meet Sarah for Part One of her Senior Project!

 

 

For this post, I was asked to write about a cancer survivor who is doing something really incredible as a result of their diagnosis. This article was supposed to be about a cancer survivor or caregiver and preferably someone who had ovarian or cervical cancer. After spending weeks reaching out and following up with various strong women who fit that description, I hadn’t heard back from anyone and the deadline for this article was approaching quickly. Consequently, the strong and amazing woman I am writing about is neither a cancer survivor or a caregiver in literal terms. However, she is both.

 

At 42, Katrina's life was good. Everything was great. School was going well for her four children. And a summer full of fun day trips and week long getaways was quickly approaching. However that summer, life took a turn for the worst.

 

Feeling odd and experiencing abdominal pain, Katrina went to the doctor hoping to pick up a prescription and go back to lounging by the pool; planning the next summer adventure. Instead, she received a diagnosis: Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma. It’s not ovarian or cervical and you probably have never heard of it before. ACC is a rare cancer that only one in a million people get. She quickly found out because it is so rare, there is no cure. She discovered there is little research, and her main treatment would most likely be trial and error.

 

I was 12 when I found out about my mother's diagnosis. I had just returned from a week of summer camp and was glad I was finally away from all of the bugs and uncomfortable mattresses. That happy feeling disappeared quickly when I found out the news. She told my siblings and I in simple terms. She gave us the facts and didn’t sugar coat it. In that moment, I accepted the circumstances and became determined to make the best of it and stay strong, just as she was doing so gracefully.

 

The surgeries, clinical trials, and various medications were ineffective and consequently my mother passed away November 1, 2012. One day before her birthday.  In many ways she is alive. Her legacy and impact keeps her alive in my heart and in the hearts of all those she touched with her kind and generous spirit.

 

When my mother received her diagnosis, she didn’t give up. She did not lose an ounce of hope. She fought, she prayed, and spent her last year and a half with so much energy and enthusiasm, no one would have been able to tell she had cancer if it weren’t for the medicine patch on her arm and the treatment she tried.

 

From final trips to Mexico, a cruise in Alaska, to the basketball game at her daughter’s school gym down the street, her bucket-list quickly accumulated check marks and she enjoyed and cherished every moment and opportunity she had left with her family and friends. She remained positive through the worst of it, trusted in God and was honored to be “one in a million.”

 

 

Surviving is not living around circumstances that we face. Physical death is certain for us all. It’s part of the life cycle we are so fortunate to have. We survive by not letting circumstances dictate who we are or what we do. We survive by fighting with every ounce in us. We survive by keeping our head up and not giving up. My mother did just that.

 

Now I am 17 and am about to start a new chapter in my life. I’m not sure yet where I’ll end up or where I’ll be a year from now, but one thing I do know is this: no matter what, I will always find a way to celebrate her life by following her example and finding the silver lining.  

 

From this experience and by her example, I learned to fight for what I believe is right and push through any circumstance to accomplish my goals. I learned to survive through the tough times and see the beauty in every moment. I learned to be brave enough to love everyone. I learned to appreciate more because everything and everyone on this earth is here temporarily. I learned the value of time, the power of love, and the importance of bravery.

 

 

 

 

 

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