Receiving a stage IV breast cancer diagnosis was one of the worst days in my life. Nothing prepares you. I never thought it would be me, but no one ever thinks it will be them; the one to get the diagnosis. The one being told they will probably only live three to five years. There I was, a 27-year-old woman, being told my breast cancer had come back and that I was now facing this enormous battle. This news is some of the heaviest news my heart will ever carry.
This may not be the life I have imagined or hoped for, but through the last five years of dealing with disease, I have learned to embrace what the Lord has for me right now; and trust in what he has planned for my future (however long that may be).
I can stay in the bitterness of this diagnosis, or I can fight to find purpose in the pain. This is what led me to work with cancer patients. I knew there needed to be purpose in all of this, so I began my master’s program in social work. After completing the program, I began working at the University of Virginia Hospital, as the medical inpatient oncology social worker. I work side-by-side with cancer patients every day, as a cancer patient myself. I can truly understand what the patients are going through, and it helps not only me, but hopefully them as well. It is in the midst of my own pain and helping others deal with theirs when I find purpose for all of this heartache that cancer brings.
A cancer diagnosis can bring a lot of grief and fear. It is always an emotional process, and every day is different. I am learning and finding a balance along the way. I have learned to give myself grace on the hard days and feel what I need to feel. I am embracing the beautiful moments, praying through the painful ones, and remaining hopeful for a thousand more to come.