Giving it All to Give Back

Although I have always gotten the warm fuzzy feeling whenever I saw an advertisement, campaign, what-have-you for a charity, I have never actually “had” a charity. We all know that charities are very important things and that the system would not work without them. We also know that their purpose is to help those in need, so we are happy to keep them at arms length and consider ourselves fortunate for not being touched by them, as this would mean that ourselves or a loved one was “someone in need”.

Over the last few months I have discovered time and time again just how amazingly effective and supportive these charities can actually be. First off, in the midst of my diagnosis I had multiple charitable organizations spring into action for me. I didn’t submit applications, I didn’t phone them up and say “Hey, I have cancer, what can you do for me”, I didn’t actually do anything. How did they know!? Well, turns out doctor’s and nurse’s submit referrals on patients behalf to get these balls rolling. Thanks, Doc! Charities also do not differentiate. If you need help, they will help you. Period. Honestly, it was overwhelming receiving support from so many charities at first, and I came to feel quite guilty about it. I knew that all the tests technically said that I was “sick”, but I felt great, I actually felt that I was at the top of my game, the healthiest I had felt in years! We also lived in a nice house and had nice things, and even after receiving so much financial support from various charities, I continued to drive my nice car, and continued to shop in the more expensive organic section at the grocery store. Enter the guilt…

But they didn’t care! They didn’t care that I hadn’t lost my hair, they didn’t care that I was feeling good throughout my treatment, they didn’t care that I hadn’t felt nauseous at all and they didn’t care that I was well enough to run a 6k the other day. They didn’t care that I actually felt more radiant than ever! One charity in particular that offers fertility preservation to young adult cancer patients didn’t care that there was a 98% chance that my eggs would be healthier than ever after my treatment – freeze ’em anyway! They didn’t care! I fit into the box of the type of person in need they set out to help, so they were helping me. End of story.

At this point in time, I am over half way through my treatment and everything is looking very positive ahead of me. What’s more, all the nitty gritty paper work that is associated with any type of big life event has been submitted, filed and processed. I am relishing in the calm after the storm and am able to reflect. Part of my reflection process has taken the form of giving back to some of these amazing charitable organizations,Β some I didn’t know even existed until they were in my court, working for me! This part of my journey hasΒ involved monetary donations, attending fundraising events and asking friends and family to sponsor me in a charitable run. And it has felt so good!

What has come to be one of my favourite quotes, “There is nothing like adversity or misfortune to really show us what our blessings are”, has also taught me a lot about uncovering what is truly important in our lives. My diagnosis, a seemingly very unfortunate event, has opened up my eyes to so any things I was completely ignorant to in the past, and has helped me see what, at the end of the day, I hold as being so very important in my life. I understand why a lot of people end up changing career paths after experiencing a health crisis – there is a shift, a new understanding and a new thirst to quench. I totally get it! Not saying that I will be going to hair school when this is all over or anything, but my fingers are literally BUZZING with the excitement of the possibilities! The possibilities that start with giving back. And don’t end until I have given it my all!

With love,

Tessa

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