At the age of one I was diagnosed with liver cancer and given a very slim chance to survive. I am the first-born in our little family, with my younger brother already in the womb when I was diagnosed. It took nearly two years for my liver to heal, with most of that time spent living in the hospital with my parents barely able to hold their child for fear of contaminating me with any viruses.
This period of my life was rarely spoken about in the years after. Around the age of seven, I remember becoming curious about my scars and questioning my parents. My dad would try to explain this rare situation; however, my mother would always get emotional. The traumatic experience that it must have been for my mother, with high chances of losing her first child to cancer, made the topic something of a taboo in our house. With hindsight, I think it was mainly because it was such a hopeless period of their lives that they had preferred to erase this horrible memory and to concentrate on what the future held.
Nevertheless, as a child and then a teenager, I was embarrassed about my scars and refused to wear a bikini for many years, before finding the strength to feel ok with it. It took time for me to feel comfortable enough to show those scars.
My cancer has scarred me physically, but the real damage was inflicted emotionally on my family. My brother was very anxious as a kid - and no wonder when you consider the stress and grief my poor mother was going through when she was pregnant with him and then as a toddler.
As an adult, I have found strength and courage in my scars. When obstacles and difficulties would arise, I would always tell myself, “you survived cancer, there is nothing you can’t do!”. It made me brave and faithful. I am a strong believer in destiny and although the cancer would have weakened me during chemotherapy treatments, it also made me a stronger human being. Those emotional characteristics are what define me today, not my cancer.