I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of January 2015. On that day, the 5th of January, I was told that a crab is gnawing at me from inside. I immediately understand that I have to be in control in order to break his momentum and stop him.

I must do everything in my power to make my cells revert to their usual biological functioning and prevent them from multiplying and spreading their abnormalities. This is when I decide to take up arms to win this fight, and to keep on living.

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When being faced with such a disease, you quickly get to learn the medical jargon. And you also quickly get familiar with the way you are being portrayed by the society.

When cancer stormed into my life I got overwhelmed by the feeling of losing myself, as if my identity got overthrown. Until now I was Deborah, a young and healthy woman. And then, suddenly, I am no more than a sick person who doesn’t hold that much control over her life!

#Survivor is often used to qualify a person who has survived sickness. To be honest, in the midst of my fight, I didn’t like this term. In reality, it bothered me. With this word, #survivor ("living with or beyond cancer" according to Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK), I perceive a person who totally undergoes what is happening to him/her. Society call these people #survivors because illness lost the battle. OK, rather coherent thinking. Society, likes to put people in boxes. I for example, fit in the cancerous box. But it is a rather minimizing box, don’t you think? Plus, cancerous is a fact, not a qualifying word. 

What about my decision to fight for my life? I assure you that when you are being given a choice between a mastectomy and letting cancer develop, the decision is quickly made.

What about my strength of character to continue to move forward with the physical impediments due to the treatment or despite the psychological shock? This strength, I had and I still have it in me. I didn’t want to be treated like a sick person. I didn’t want to be someone you feel sorry for. I did what I had to do to reach the ultimate goal, yes, to have a few more beautiful years ahead of me. And I was fighting for that. 

I made the choice to try to understand my cancer as best as I could to be able to manage my treatment and to take decisions during the various steps. I am not becoming someone different because of the cancer. However, it casts light to one of my personality traits. #Fighter qualifies somebody. The objective is being able to continue living; not to continue to survive. 

I decide to live. To be conscious of that strength from the beginning allowed me to keep smiling, to choose not to act as a depressive sick patient (why?), and despite uncontrollable uncertainties, to be my own master of events – of MY events.

Yes, I survived cancer, but cancer does not sum up the person that I am. As a human being, I am not limited to being a survivor. I ask for more than that! I aspire to convey another message!

I am still the same person, the one I was before January 5th 2015. And I am changing (thank goodness) with the chapters of my life that I continue to write. 

As of today my major treatment is over. First a mastectomy and a breast reconstruction in January 2015, then a chemotherapy between March and July, followed by another operation in August, and radiotherapy sessions from October to November. I have now entered a phase of moral and physical rehabilitation. I have only one operation left, planned for the beginning of July. Despite not being life-saving surgery, this operation is a prerequisite for me to be in harmony with my body again. Today I no longer feel like I’m in the midst of a fight. Today, unlike during my treatment, I am ready to hear that I am a #fighter because going through that fight led me to victory! As per the definition I am a #fighter, which made me a #survivor.

Yes. I did survive. And now I keep forging my path!

These are the lessons I learnt:

1. Get screened
2. Listen to your body
3. Don’t over stress yourself
4. Be conscious of your emotions and manage them
5. Accept the events of your life

 

Cancer does not discriminate. It can strike any one at any time. We first met Deborah when she signed up for Race Against Cancer 2015 early last year, shortly after she was diagnosed and was still being treated. We've kept in contact ever since. Deborah will be sharing regularly about her cancer journey every month as a volunteer writer for SCS, especially about how she's readjusting to life after breast cancer

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