Neerali Patel

Age: Adult
Association: Survivor
Region: North Carolina
Cancer: Hodgkins Lymphoma

"Accepting that you have cancer and that you are willing to take on this battle is a crucial part in being mentally prepared for treatment."

Three days before I planned to begin my senior year at college, I was diagnosed with stage III Hodgkins lymphoma. I was 21. From then on, everything happened pretty fast–I withdrew from school, had surgeries and chopped off my hair. Before I knew it, I was receiving my first chemo treatment with other survivors who were all calmly sitting in their chairs reading and surfing their tablets. I remember in that moment, I thought they were all crazy–why were they not anxious like me? Why were they just sitting there at peace? It wasn’t until my sixth chemo that I realized that for my fellow survivors, this was just their way of life. They had made chemo so routine that it was normal to be prodded with needles all the time. I don’t think I ever fully got to that point. I kept thinking that maybe my oncologist would tell me I was done with chemo early but that, of course, was wishful thinking. It took me so long to just say the phrase “I am a survivor.” For me, it just felt awkward to say it. It was like some narrator was saying it on my behalf. Accepting that you have cancer and that you are willing to take on this battle is a crucial part in being mentally prepared for treatment.