last chemotherapy

Why I Needed To Free Myself To Be Happy

No more mornings.


It was a tough morning. Nothing I wasn’t used to but that…was different. I woke up from my last chemotherapy and I stared at my reflection in my mirror and cried for hours. Not because I saw someone I didn’t recognize – trust me, I’ve seen that person too many times, but because I saw someone who was hopeless. My sad brown eyes were not just sad anymore, they were empty. I laid in my bed for hours, looking at my room, and I just felt pain. And, at that time, I knew that if I didn’t change my life, my life was going to change me in a way that I couldn’t handle.

Having breast cancer at 29 was just the peak of years dealing with anxiety and more recently with an abusive relationship. My body was trying to warn me that I couldn’t continue living like that anymore. And this cancer was definitely my wake-up call.

At that time I was in a really toxic relationship with someone with serious anger problems. For some reason, I believed my cancer would be a wake-up call for him too, but I quickly understood that for me to survive I had to let him go.

Fortunately, he moved to another country after my third chemo session. This was the luckiest thing that could have happened to me, even though at this time it felt like the end of my life – sometimes we just can’t help feeling whatever we need to.

I felt so alone and in so much pain that morning that I felt I could become crazy. Where did all my strength go? All my hope? It seemed that this cancer was getting the best of me. I needed to change my perspective and my life to find my real purpose. I reflected on my life goals and on everything that changed in that year and decided to pursue my dream of becoming a screenwriter. When I finished my last radiation treatment in August 2017 I booked my first flight to Toronto, from Portugal, for October 2017. I fell in love with the city and by June 2018 I was living here and studying screenwriting at the University of Toronto.

As I’m writing these words, I’m taking my first steps in the film industry as a screenwriter. I’m focusing on sharing my life experience with other young women in need. Writing was always a part of my life; back in Lisbon I was working as an advertising copywriter and I wrote my first poetry book years before I was diagnosed with cancer. But the disease made me realize that I needed to use my words to share positive and meaningful messages.

Was moving alone from Portugal to Canada easy? God, no. I keep dealing with a lot of side effects from my hormonal treatment (my breast cancer is 100% hormonal), my love life is basically non-existent here and immigration issues are real. Do I regret it? No. I can say that I have never been this happy. Because when you allow yourself to do everything you want to do, you become your reality. When you choose your own path you can’t hide behind excuses anymore. It’s just you and you do whatever it takes to get there. And you know what? You are enough. After, before and during cancer treatments. You just need to free yourself. – Sara Da Costa Oliveira

For more stories about life after a breast cancer diagnosis, click here.

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