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The Not So Magical World of Cancer...

It all started with my dream of going to Disney World coming true. Back in 2015, my family and I decided to go to Disney for my moms 50th birthday. To say I was overwhelmed with joy is an understatement. I couldn't believe that after waiting my whole childhood to go that now at the age of 22 I was finally living out my dream. After, a few painful weeks of anxiously waiting for the big day to come it was finally time. My family and I packed up our car, drove to the airport and boarded our flight. 3 hours later and ta-da we had arrived. We got our luggage, got on a bus and off to the hotel we were headed. I started feeling nauseous on the bus ride; I normally don't do well with long bouts of travel and I felt like that day had involved so much that I was going to be sick. When we finally arrived at our hotel I remember barely unpacking and needing to take a nap because my nausea was unbearable. I had felt bad because we had just arrived and we had wanted to explore the city already but my stomach had other plans. So, I took a nap for a few hours and once I woke up I believe we only had time to explore a bit and get some dinner. So, the first day I kind of wasted but the rest of the trip all in all was absolutely wonderful. Truly exceeded all my expectations and more. We visited each park, took hundreds of photos and made the best memories. I'll never forget finally "meeting" and taking a picture with Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. Two of my favorite Disney characters. Not to mention watching my mom take the cutest photo with Minnie Mouse - one of her favorite characters on her birthday. She truly had such a great birthday being able to also experience Disney World for the first time as well. Like, I said this family trip was perfect I had so much energy. The running joke was that I was like the energizer bunny. Except, the issue was I had very little appetite. With that being said, I still managed to maximize the days we had there and oh boy did we. But, like all good things at some point they have to come to an end. So, we packed, we took a bus to the airport, boarded our flight and we were headed home. Which is when things started to take a turn.

The next few days home my loss of appetite and my nausea worsened. I couldn't keep anything down and thats if I actually felt hungry to try and eat something. At some point my mom started giving me electrolytes and when I wasn't able to keep that down is when she decided to make me go to the ER. I remember I was laying in her bed watching old episodes of Hannah Montana when she said I had to get up and put on my shoes because it wasn't normal that I was like this for a few days. So, I did as I was told and off to the ER we went. I remember after explaining my symptoms the doctors; at first they thought that maybe I had pancreatitis. It wasn't till I laid down on my back for them to do an examination that, that changed. I mentioned how it felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest as it was really hard to breath laying down like that and my chest felt tight. That's when the doctor said he wanted to take me for an X-ray to get a better look at what was going on. So, one x-ray later and they said there was something in my chest they wanted a closer look at to determine what it was. I didn't think much of it and soon after I was off to get a biopsy. I felt a little afraid at first because I never had to "go under" before but I also wanted to know what was going on with my body and knew I was in good hands. Before I knew it I was back in my room watching Friends and waiting for the results. It truly felt like hours had passed which is usually how it feels when waiting on something important. It was 3am and I was watching the episode of Friends where Monica announces she's pregnant and before I could get excited like I always do re-watching one of my favorite shows the doctor was back. This time he was back with two residents and they all looked like someone had just broken their favorite toy. In that moment I knew, I knew something was extremely wrong. The doctor began speaking and I can't recall every word he said but when he said the word "mass" it was apparent to me. He was trying so hard to gently break the news to us. I just looked at him and blurted "So, I have cancer right?" I remember my mom looking at me with a mixture of shock and fear and the doctor just cleared his throat and said "Yes, the mass we found in your chest is cancerous." Right then and there both my world and my moms shattered. Soon after, an oncologist came in to talk the specifics and then I was checked into a room for the next few days. I remember the day after having to call my aunt in New Jersey to break the news so she could tell the rest of the family. Also, calling Peru - where the other half of my family resides and letting them know as well. After, that the next few days were a blur, at some point I got transferred to the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. I started my 24 hour chemo cocktail for 7 days and chopped off all my hair once it started to itch and burn so badly I couldn't take it anymore. I did about 5 rounds of this intense chemo regiment with having to come back 2 days after the 7 days were done to do a few hours more. 4 months of treatments and my last one was finally here. December 26th started my last round and I was overjoyed. No more chemo after this I kept saying to myself. No more watching my mom curled up on a chair sleeping next to my bed every night. No more being woken up every hour to check vitals. No more hospital food. And so, the 7 days passed and I was done. I had to come back every few weeks for check ups to see how my mass was doing; well, the little of it that remains. It had become a routine. Go get a pet scan, send my disc over and have my oncologist tell us my results. A few months of check ups passed and on March 22nd I was told that my cancer was in remission. I cried tears of joy I couldn't believe I was finally hearing those words. I was worried I was going to end up having to do radiation. I remember calling all my family and friends and posting about it on social media. It truly was the best day of my life. I felt like I could breathe again. In all honesty, so many thing occurred during this time span of finding out I had cancer that could fill up a book to write. One thing I'll never forget is the doctor telling my mom that it's lucky she brought me in when she did because I was already in stage 4 and they didn't think i'd make it pass 4 days let alone end up in remission. There were a few close calls in the hospital I remember being really frightened but with my mom, my family and most importantly God by my side I knew I'd be okay. I also somehow remained extremely positive during this all. That was the one thing that everyone in the hospital always said. I just always had a smile on my face and was trying to make other people smile as well. 5 years later- cancer free and now sharing my story of how I realized that the "happiest place on earth" wasn't Disney World like I had always thought. It was just being on this being on this beautiful, magnificent earth at all.

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