I am such a planner. If you are like me, even your plans are made up of plans. I had it set in my mind that I would go to university, get a good job, find a man I love, travel the world, get married, and have cute-ass babies. I still dream of what I want my ideal life to look like, but now I dream with my heart open to the possibility of change.

When I first found out I had cancer I honestly couldn’t believe it. I was in denial, not just about having the disease, but with everything I felt I had lost because of it. I lost the internship I worked so hard for. I lost the opportunity to study abroad with my friends. I was so ready to go into my last year of university, graduate with everyone, and start the next phase of my life. The thing is, I thought that next phase would be my career or travelling. But instead, I was fighting for my life. That meant letting go of my normalcy and learning to accept a new normal.

In September, I saw everyone going back to school, starting new internships, or doing their study abroad terms. Everyone was in the place I had felt I was supposed to be. I felt like my life was stripped from me. It was a grieving process. I felt grief over the girl I once looked like and how simple my life had felt. When you feel like everything has been taken from you, it is so easy to lose sight of yourself. I remember looking in the mirror after I had lost my hair. I didn’t even feel sick, but seeing that image of myself made it so much more real.

You learn a lot when you are faced with a near-death experience. You learn to take life a lot less seriously and to just have fun with the process. We often don’t recognize the importance of playfulness in our lives.

You learn not to be afraid to fall, because getting back up is where the greatest lessons are learnt. And even though you may not always have control over what is happening in your life, you do have control over how you choose to respond. We have the choice not to suffer and fall victim to our perceptions. I know that’s a lot easier said than done, but if we accept the uncertainty and learn to love and appreciate the ups and downs, this is where we will reach our greatest sense of fulfillment.

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