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My Biggest Life Lesson

My Biggest Life Lesson: ​How Having Cancer Changed My Life: The Diagnosis

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"Before you begin reading, this post is divided into sections and updated by me as I enter each phase of healing." - Anesha Collins THE DIAGNOSIS I'd be lying if I said that I debated heavily whether or not I wanted to write about this and share it on my blog. This journey has not been easy, and the hardest part of it has been keeping my emotions off of social media -- which I failed at once already. I never expected to be dealing with an illness like Cancer. I've seen what it can do to one's body and I've taken care of many Cancer patients; who knew I'd be one. Let me just put this out there now before you continue reading, I may ramble in this blog post as I'm not really focused on making it a well structured piece of writing, but simply a window for you to see inside this journey of mine with Cancer.

So, where do I begin? It all started while at a Speaking Engagement in Connecticut. I was full of energy, excited to be there, had a scary flight (the turbulence was crazy), but I arrived safe and sound to JFK. I drove from JFK to the event location, checked in and was super excited to be at the conference. I had already established some online connections with some of the attendees, so I felt right at home. Fast forward three days and one fun night of karaoke, I found myself waking up in a pool of blood and freaking out. I ended up calling 911 because of the amount of blood that was present, called my Mother (who was home in Florida), and finally reached out to another speaker that was present at the conference that I knew I could trust. I was completely embarrassed while scared for my life (all at the same time) because I had no clue what was going on and why I was bleeding so much. By the time the paramedics arrived I was hypotensive (had low blood pressure) and headed to the emergency room: my father Facetimed me to see what was going on.

After multiple diagnostic tests and exams, the emergency room doctor said, "this looks like Cancer." I remember thinking it can't be. I've had no symptoms prior to other than being fatigued and low appetite -- which later on I found out were symptoms. I didn't pay much attention to these symptoms because I'm always working and pushing myself beyond my limits so I associated it with working hard and not resting. By the time I was sent back to the emergency room from the last diagnostic test, my mother was helping me to push my flight back home to an earlier time. I made it back to my hotel room and I simply rested all day. It tormented me that I couldn't speak at the Conference after preparing for several months and having content for each attendee that was specific to their niche. I continued to offer a digital version of my session, but the host (bless her heart) wanted me to rest and take care of myself. I cried in my room because I hate failing and although I had a legit health scare-- I still felt like I let a lot of people down.

My bags were packed and with my car partially covered in snow, I started the rental and prepared myself for a two-hour drive back to JFK from Connecticut. I was tired, but I had to make it. My mother and a few friends that knew what happened checked in on me, but I was starting to feel the fatigue again. By the time I made it to the rental return location, I was ready to get on my flight and head home. When I landed in Orlando, my mother picked me up and we spent the first three minutes riding together in silence. Neither one of us knew what to say because we were both scared, but the silence broke and we began talking. I was scheduled to see my Doctor in two days so I prepared myself for that once I got home.

The Day Everything Changed— Life Pivoted

A biopsy of the area was scheduled and all I knew is that there would be some bleeding and pain soon after -- it hurt a lot post-recovery. My Doctor kept saying it didn't look like anything cancerous, but we still went ahead and did the biopsy anyway. I cried on the table during the procedure as my mother held my hand. I can't tell you in one sentence what ran through my mind in that moment, but I knew that something was wrong and I had to be strong so we could figure it out. A few days later, after calling for test results, my Doctor called and stated that he wanted me to come in immediately. I knew that it had to be something serious and so I called my mother to let her know that I was headed to my physician. Before I could call her back she had left the hair salon and beat me there. We both walked inside and waited until they called me back. I could hear my physician talking in the hallway, but I couldn't fully make out what he was saying. I knew I had something but didn't know how serious it was.

They finally called me back, I sat on the exam table and my Doctor walked in with words I would never forget. He said, "I have some bad news", and closed the door behind him. My whole demeanor changed in that moment. He said, "You have Cancer." I remember feeling like my soul left my body. My mother was sitting to the right of me in a chair. All I could do was sit there and be quiet. He went over what they found and how they know it's Cancer and not a misdiagnosis. I didn't cry in that moment-- I did my very best to listen so I could understand. I did my best to hear everything that he said, but I was also upset. The first question that came to mind was, "Why did this happen to me?" No answer from the universe of course.