I am Strength

“Someone once said to me ‘I don’t know how you do it’. I told them ‘I wasn’t give a choice’.” – author unknown

I wasn’t given a choice.

I am four months away from my five-year cancerversary. It is an overwhelming milestone to be on the cusp of. When I think back on this journey I am surprised at the depths of my own personal strength to face the fears, to fight the battle, and to traverse through the realms of the unknown. This is courage. Yet I never considered myself to be brave, I merely donned my ‘armour’ and threw myself into the fray. I did not have a choice. I fought because I wanted to live. Like so many heroic women do, I did what needed to be done so that I could have another day, upon another day, upon another day…

“It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Battling breast cancer takes courage. Courage that many of us do not feel we possess, because through it all – diagnosis, surgery, and treatment – is an accompanying fear. It is a crippling amount of fear that washes over you time and time again. It paralyzes you. It threatens you. It mocks you. Yet through it all, through all the fear we just keep fighting – tenacious, resilient, and fierce. This is strength.

“It’s okay to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.” – Mandy Hale

It takes strength to face fear. It takes courage – courage that each and every breast cancer warrior possesses. I did not realize the profoundness of my own until recently. But courage I had. Even in the darkest moments when I could not control the insatiable tears – when the paralyzing fear pulled me into its icy cold depths – I still endured the mammograms, the ultrasounds, the MRI, the bone scan, and the biopsies. I proceeded with surgery and adjuvant therapy, and when I felt myself slipping into a state of depression I sought help. I reached out and admitted, “I am not okay.” I did this in spite of the fear.

“I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me.” – Erica Jong

Women are so strong, yet we can often be under-appreciated, under-valued, and under-estimated. However, in this community of breast cancer warriors, strength and resilience are fierce. It is evident. Through the pain, sorrow, fear, and anger that we fight, we carry on and we persevere. We live our lives, altered – yes – but continue day by day. We fulfill personal goals and nurture personal relationships, and some of us even nurture little ones. We recognize the value within ourselves, and we finally realize our self-worth. We choose our moments to grieve, cry, scream, or cower. Then we shake off the impending feelings of doom and we move onward. We push forward through the treatments, surgeries, side effects, and pain. We endure. This stoic strength is absolutely remarkable, and it comes from women. Women are so very strong. I am strong. And you – you are strong.

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.” – Gina Carey

Though we may not wink, per se, many of us do smile. We find joyous moments even in the darkest hour – to laugh, to joke, to [maybe] even wink. This incredible amount of gutsiness is inspirational, and it is this journey that stokes our fiery determination within – our determination to live. And though we may not have had the choice, we may choose how we wish to traverse it. I travel with gratitude in my heart – thankful for one more day, for each and every day. I am thankful for the mundane moments, the great big firsts, and the beautiful ugly mess in-between that is life.

And so, as I reflect upon my journey, I am wise enough to recognize how far I have come, the adversities I have faced, the fears I have learned to tame, and the courage that is my own. I know that I still have a long way to go and though I may not have had the choice, I will continue to choose how I travel.

I am strength. – Crystal Joy Hall

To read more stories from Crystal’s blog, Live, Love, Laugh … Life After Cancer, click here.

Are you a young woman with breast cancer looking to connect with others? Join the Rethink community here.

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