If you were to google top cliché quotes, it would not be surprising to see “everything happens for a reason” in the top results (huge eye-roll, I know). To be fair, though, it can be difficult to find a meaning for why bad things happen. I often sit in the “why me” attitude or write something unfortunate off as bad luck. But that all changed for me when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last winter.
I have always been healthy. I mean, the biggest health issue I’ve had up until now was getting my tonsils removed – not exactly a life-changing event or a reason to really sink into the “this happened for a reason” philosophy (although if I was forced to find a meaning, it would be that it was an opportunity to embrace my love for ice cream), but getting cancer at 22? Now that’s something that can really stir life up and have someone questioning why this happened to them. I just finished college, had plans to move to New York City with my friends, and scored a part in a play that was about to open. There was nothing that could justify why now and why me. A diet of unlimited milkshakes doesn’t exactly fit the bill for this one.
However, now that everything is over and I reflect on my journey, I can find countless reasons why this happened to me and why it happened when it did.
When I was diagnosed, I was encouraged to start treatment immediately. As a result, my first chemo fell on the same day as one of the biggest audition opportunities I’ve ever had. I went straight from chemo to this audition and was absolutely drained. I kept my head rested against the wall of the waiting room and could not keep my eyes open until my name was called to go in. But once I got into the audition room, it was like a light switch was turned on. I pulled together all the strength and determination I had and did my piece. To my surprise, I ended up landing a role. If this wasn’t enough for cancer to get in the way of, I had also been rehearsing for a show which my chemo treatments were going to affect. My doctor told me to be prepared to miss some performances. Although some nights I left the stage and would immediately lie down until my next scene, I was set on making it through every night. Somehow, I did.
Now as I prepare to move in a few weeks and resume my plan to act in NYC, l look back at these moments and I feel encouraged that I can do this. Suddenly, the idea of a million possible rejections from pretentious, scarved directors doesn’t scare me anymore. The “why me” and “why now” turned into the belief that I have the strength to do anything and overcome my past fears of failure. Everything happens for a reason and one reason cancer happened to me was to teach me that passion overpowers pain.
So flash-forward four months to where I am today, writing my first ever blog post as an intern for Project Best Life and Roswell Park, where just a few hours earlier, my doctor informed me that my cancer was in remission.
The only word I have to describe this feeling is: “whoa.”
In a matter of hours, I have come full circle from being a patient at Roswell Park to an employee posting on my journey and I can’t help but give credit to this “everything happens for a reason” theory.
So stay tuned for more “whoa” moments with me as I begin to find more meaning behind the things that happen in life, and I invite you to sink further in-to the “everything happens for a reason” philosophy, as well. And yes, I am still aware that no matter what I do or say, this quote will always come with a side of eye-roll. But let’s face it; our hearts secretly love a cheesy feel-good quote!