I never wanted to write about cancer. But then again, who has?
I was 22 years old when a scheduled exploratory surgery at the dentist’s office lead me to Texas Oncology in downtown Dallas. Not knowing what was going on — like everyone experiencing cancer — one doctor’s visit lead to countless more when I found out the small protruding mass in my mouth was, indeed, cancer.
I was diagnosed with large B cell Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the treatment ahead of me was aggressive and grueling. At the time, I was just starting my MBA program, working, and just trying to be a normal 20-something enjoying life.
It was a shock, of course, but I was determined to fight it. Kill it. Months of chemotherapy, intrathecal chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries, and much more didn’t break my spirit — it just kept me going so I could reach the finish line. I was one of the lucky ones when my oncologist told me that I was, finally, in remission.
Now, seven years later, I am cancer-free. Fighting cancer wasn’t what I couldn’t handle — it was living with cancer. Living as a survivor. The day-to-day fear of hearing that your cancer could possibly relapse was just as scary as hearing your initial diagnosis. To me, fighting cancer meant I had a plan. A week-to-week treatment plan that could possibly lead to positive results, and eventually, the finish line. I just didn’t anticipate what happened after you reached the finish line and were ‘safely’ in remission.
Once in remission, I didn’t join support groups, or talk much about my cancer journey, I would simply read stories of other brave souls through great organizations such as Livestrong. Hearing their stories kept me going.
After many years, I finally did find an avenue where I could find peace — and that was through one of my favorite things in the world, putting pen to paper and writing about my story. Without even meaning to, I ended up writing a novel that outlined my journey and battle. Through words, I was able to find closure and move on in the best way I possibly could as a cancer survivor.
Since releasing my book, it has become my goal to spread the message that each fighter’s story must be heard — because with every unique story, comes new hope, new courage, and most importantly, a new story about life. I want to spread the word, together — as fighters, survivors, caretakers, and those who have lost their warriors, that there is something beautiful after cancer, and it’s life. I’ve found that life takes on many forms, whether organically, through memory, or even through the story of others. The one thing I’ve learned from my experience as a fighter, and now survivor, is to find that avenue in which you can find peace and closure — and run with it, because that is the only way of finding happiness and surviving life once touched with cancer.
Aysha Khan’s book about her cancer journey is called ‘Life: Based on a True Story’ and is available on Amazon. She has very kindly offered to donate 50% of profits from sales of the book to LIVESTRONG for 6 months starting 3.28.2017. You can buy the book here.