A Frightful Moment

Name

Jacqueline Louw

Decade that you were born in

1980s

Country

South Africa

An event, or moment, that has taken place that has influenced your life

When I was diagnosed with cancer, it shook me to my core.

I was 19 years old, and I was busy with my first year of studies, when I noticed a lesion on my head. I immediately went to the doctor to have it looked at.

On the 9th of February, 2009, I was officially diagnosed with cancer. I was booked for my first operation three days later.

My world had struck an iceberg and, exactly like the Titanic, the icy waters of despair filled me bit by bit. It felt like my youth had been stolen from me. My future was suddenly wiped clear and seemed none existent. What was going to happen to me? Would I survive? These were only some of the thoughts that raced through my mind. I quickly became despondent and my hope started fading like the setting sun but in a less spectacular way.

After three months I went for a check up and the lesion had grown to the same size as before; the cancer had become very aggressive. This only worsened my state of mind as hopelessness overwhelmed me. I started with chemotherapy soon afterwards.

For the next two years I went for chemotherapy twice a month. I moved from doctor to doctor, desperately searching for a doctor that knew more about the rare cancer that grew in my body. The cancer had spread to my soul; breaking me down to my foundations.

During these 2 years I realized so much about life. I became humble. I started noticing the smallest things in life; the sunbeams shining through a rain drop, a bee dancing above a flower, the simple pleasures of sitting with my dearest mother, the joy from a laugh with friends. My view on life changed dramatically but still the cancer raged on in my body.

Finally I found a doctor that could help. I was at my lowest but this new doctor changed my life. It was like a shot of adrenaline to my soul, giving me what I needed to go on.

I regained my strength and I starting fighting for this life that is rightfully mine! I would not let cancer be the end of me. I made the decision to live and to not let the cancer consume me. I started building myself up in a way I never thought possible.

It has now been 5 years that I have been in remission and, after my doctor’s appointment a few days ago, I have never been healthier.

During this frightful event in my life, I changed from being a person of arrogance to a person of understanding. I realized how worthless our materialistic belongings are. I rediscovered my passion for travel and each time I set foot in a new country and on a new continent, I think to myself “I may have never had the opportunity to be here. I may never have had the opportunity to experience this.”

I have become a grateful person. I appreciate each experience, each destination, in life with much more intensity. My outlook on life has shifted and I intend to continue living the life I had always dreamt of living.

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