Dedicated to those who didn’t win the battle but helped us win the war…
Cancer has no warning. It could come at the moment you least expect, it could even come after you lost someone, no one can expect it. Adriana and Gabriela got hit by it when they least expected it. They won the battle against thyroid cancer and bonded over their victories. September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month and they decided to share their experiences.
These are their stories.
Adriana Isabel Natal
Alan Moore’s Joker in the famous comic, The Killing Joke, once said: “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.” I’ve thought of this ideology a lot, and in a way, it has guided me throughout my journey. You see, the Joker wants to prove to Batman that one bad day can change your life forever. The thing is, that he doesn’t know Batman already had his bad day. In fact, both characters did, the difference is that they both took different approaches to their respective “bad day.” Batman decided to take justice in his hands while the Joker decided to bring chaos. I believe we can all have a bad day, but it depends on us if we let it drag us like chains or if we let it fly us through the night like wings. In my case, I could say I had two bad days. The difference is that I didn’t let May 31st, 2016 affect me as much as April 3rd, 2015.
On April 3rd, 2015 I lost my grandmother to cancer. This was my first bad day. Isabel Maria Rios, the woman who raised me, the woman that was the light of my world, my namesake. Now, I believe her story is much more compelling to tell. Mama Chave, as her 15 grandchildren called her, was the strong, independent mother of 7, who loved to cook and was the cause of my severe caffeine addiction. When she was diagnosed, she wasn’t afraid of dying, she kept doing the things she loved, even if those around her tried to stop her. In all her suffering, I never saw her complain, she faced this disease with her face held high. The last time I spoke to her, she wiped my tears and told me to be strong. I try to be, but I can’t be something I’m not–or that was what I thought. What I didn’t know was that Isabel’s journey would prepare me for the challenge that was yet to come.
May 31st, 2016. My doctor diagnosed me with thyroid cancer. Being diagnosed with the same disease as your grandmother is quite terrifying. I was scared not for me, but for my family, especially my mother and my little sister. In a way, I finally understood how my grandma felt. I had just graduated High School and just gotten accepted to the University of Puerto Rico, Prom was just around the corner. What would I do? Will I let the chains drag me down or will I soar the skies? That’s when I thought that Mama Chave raised no quitter, and hell, if she could do it, so could I.Courage that I didn’t know existed within me rose up, I am strong. This was just another bad day, and like Batman, I was going to make a negative into a positive. I wasn’t going to let the Joker win and you best believe I didn’t. The operation was a complete success and now I soar the skies with limitless possibilities.
Always remember, you choose what to do with your bad day. You will always determine the outcome, never let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Gabriela C. Burgos Soler
I was eighteen years old when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It’s funny how your life can completely change in the span of hours.
I was a freshman in college, in the middle of finals when I received the news that to me seemed more like an irony in itself. Being a huge reader myself, I saw my diagnosis as a big form of irony since one of my favorite books of all time is The Fault In Our Stars and there I was, standing in Hazel Grace Lancaster’s shoes. Out of all the characters I loved, she was the one that I did not want to be like.
To say that I wasn’t scared would be a lie, I was scared, terrified even. It was hard to receive that type of news at such a young age when I was barely figuring out my own life. It’s a type of blow that you never expect to receive, but life is unexpected and everything does not go as planned.
I remembered this quote from another one of my favorite books, A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas, “Don’t let the hard days win”. I basically had two options, either let this consume me and give up or give it hell and fight it with every sword and dagger I could find. I chose the later, and I could not be prouder, I was not going to give up when I had my whole life ahead of me and the new season of Sherlock was premiering in two weeks. So I did, I fought, both for me and my family and I’m happy to be on the other side. My scar is a battle wound, and just like all of those fantasy heroes it represents my inner strengths and victories and I’m not afraid or embarrassed to flaunt it. I will be proud to show it off when I go to the launch party of my first book and to the Oscars when I am nominated for Best Screenplay. I will always be proud because this is probably the biggest victory of them all.
“Don’t let the hard days win” – Sarah J. Maas, because you will be able to look back one day and realize all of the strength that you gained from that. The path is hard, but the victory is worth it.
We decided to share our stories because we wanted to tell others that are going through the same thing that they aren’t alone. If you’re having a bad and a hard day, don’t let it consume you. Face it head on and never give up. Because things will get better and you will win.
Pictures by: Jennifer M. Madero Matus