Relay For Life - My Journey

Chapter I - From Child to Caregiver

Hello I am Thalia and today I am 31 years old and can proudly say I am a Caregiver and a Survivor.
I didn’t know how much I will share with this project but after thinking over it few days, I decided to tell you all of it.
People only can learn from my story and receive strength.


So sit down and take a box of Kleenex.


Feel with me, Cry with me, Learn with me.

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My journey into this cruel world of Cancer began early, really early in my life and all started 1998 with a friend. My best friend to be exactly....


Damien and I were like inseparable twins and where we were, was mischief lol
We were born the same year and month and survived everything from hiding from the parents when having bad grades or playing pranks. Like twins really. One day when we were at the playground, Damien suddenly collapsed and didn’t woke up again. Being 12 years old and alone without an adult around and seeing this was really scary as hell and I was totally lost. So I ran to the house (which wasn't far away) and got his father. After he was rushed to hospital and enduring tons of tests, the doctors came with the most devastating diagnosis you could hear.


C A N C E R
It was terminal.


Now explain this to an 12 old child. Tell that child, that her best friend is going to die ...very soon… Horrible I know. I was sad and angry. How can the doctors take away my best friend? He did nothing wrong.


But at the same time I was curious. What is cancer? What does it and why is everyone afraid of it? So one day in class I asked the teacher and luckily he knew enough to explain us a lot in simple words.


Thanks to that teacher ...Mr. Walter... I learned something really important that day. He said in some cases the cancer can’t be cured by the medicine and the Doctors yet and the people will go to Heaven. IT can be a painful road BUT Family and Friends can make that new road less rocky. BE there for them, LAUGH with them, CRY with them, LOVE them.


That day I wanted to help, to care and be the best friend I could be. My mission was set and no one could stop me. That day I became a Caregiver.


3 months I visited him at home and in hospital
3 months I read for him, draw pictures for him
3 months I gave him all my love


A few days before he fell into a coma and passed away, he said the 3 best words a friend could ever hear


“thank you sister”


He wasn't afraid or mad. He was thankful for everything his little caregiver, family and friends did for him. BE THERE.


Chapter II - Losing  Hope

After this cruel event in my life - the Lost of my best Friend - I thought it couldn’t get worse. That it was over now.


But I was so wrong....


In just 10 years I lost 11 friends. Yes 11. All from cancer. And all were so close.


2000 - 2005


In between the year of 2000 and 2005, two of my classmates and friends - Samantha and Diego passed away of years of chemo and fighting it. Both were so strong and full of life. Both were ripped away from our hearts in such a cruel way. I crawled through that time and managed to stay sane and hopeful.


Samantha (♰ 4th November, 2002)
Diego (♰ 16th, March 2005)


2006 - 2008


This two years were the worst.


I lost 6 friends. All very close to me and my family. We tried to help as good as we could. Be there for them and their family. Being caregivers. After this two years, my life literally went downhill. I was depressed. Didn't want to eat or sleep. Nightmare after Nightmare - losing my friends again and again. I was so depressed that I was even thinking of ending it. That I couldn’t go on like this. Losing all that are close to me. Maybe it is me that is cursed?


I decided to go for walk to clear my head again because those thoughts weren’t good. I knew that. And something needed to be done.


So I walked through a forest near my home and couldn’t find any solution. Nothing. This was just hopeless. With a heavy sigh I decided to go back home and suddenly saw out of the corner of my eye a woman on a bench with a man in a wheelchair next to her. That person in the wheelchair was so familiar to me and yet I couldn’t place from where I knew him.
Being of an investigative nature, I decided to go to them and say hi.


Later on I knew - One one best ideas I ever had. That decision literally saved my Life.


When I saw the man's face, I immediately knew who he was. It was Mr. Walter from my primary school. The person that helped me through the time of losing my best friend Damien.. The Person who explained me what Cancer is.


He recognized me too. I couldn’t say a word and I remember just staring at him, frozen.


He knew that something was off asap and after the few whispered words “Come here Child”, tears rolled down my cheeks and I broke down in his arms, crying like I never did before in my life.


He just was there... silent... holding me till I calmed down.


After minutes or an hour, I don’t know anymore - It was like eternity, I sat on the bench, started telling him everything what happened over the years, my memories, my thoughts, my feelings. He and his wife, just listened till I was done.


I learned from him so much and looked in his eyes, hoping to get answer that would get me back on my path.


And I got my answer!


“Even a Caregiver needs some care too sometimes. We can not eat all emotion up and be strong. We need an outlet, a shoulder to lean on, a person to talk to. We are not alone and we need to be a unit to fight this”, was his answer.
I thought *fight this* ??? I was confused and asked why fight. A caregiver cares and is not a warrior who fights. He said: ”That is wrong. We care, we want a cure and we fight till there is a cure.”


(now this might sound very familiar to you)


Mr Walter said he wants to take me to an Special Event. He did not said what it is and why. He just said wear comfortable clothes and shoes…


Two very long weeks later, ready in my sweatpants, t-shirt and sneakers, I stood in the entrance of new adventure, a new Chapter in my Life:

- Relais pour Vie - Relay For Life -

I met so many people like me there. Caregivers, Survivors, Families and Friends. People that are going through treatment and people will start the treatment. We talked to each other and shared our stories with all of them. All those great people shared their story with me, took me by the hand and that day April 12th 2008 I walked the track for the first time in my Life.


I walked it for me - who found Hope again
I walked it for my Best Friend Damien - my Fallen Angel (♰ 14th August 1998)
I walked it for my Family - who is at my Side
I walked it for my Friends - who lost the Fight


Pierre (♰ 3rd, May 2006)
Moira (♰ 14th, August 2006 )
Manuela (♰ 30th, November 2006)
Thomas (♰ 5th, February 2007)
Sascha (♰ 28th, June 2008)
Dominique (♰ 13th September 2008)
2009 - 2010


During the 2009 and 2010 Seasons of Relay I met some new amazing friends. We laughed and cried together. We fought together and we mourned together the Loss of close friends, family, children.


Marie-Anne (♰ 2nd March 2009)
Fabienne (♰ 19th, October 2009)
Jonathan (♰ 26th, December 2010)


Chapter III - Broken Soul

In 2011 I was really a Trooper when it came to Relay. I walked, I had fun, I helped those that weren’t well on the track. I got many friends into it. All was good again.


And yet again, I was so wrong….


One day my godmother told me that she had a mole removed because it turned out to be Cancerous. She told me to get tested too, since i had a lot of moles. I said that there won’t be anything and even joked about it. But my godmother insisted to get an appointment. So being annoyed and make her shut up I took an appointment.


The Doctors explained a lot to me about the moles and possible skin cancer etc. It was very informative but also made me nervous. So she checked them out. One by one, from head to toe.


Most were ok. Nothing suspicious. BUT some she thought were very bizarre and she said to be on the safe side, it would be better to remove them and send them in for testing. With a sigh I agreed and 2 weeks later the procedure began.


A few weeks later, when the results came in, the doctor told me to come by. because she doesn’t to say it over the phone.


That is where I got scared. Very scared.


I mean there can’t be anything bad. Over the phone was ok. She insisted. So I went with my parents to the Doctor.


I remember sitting there, waiting for her to say something. My hands were sweaty and I thought I would suffocate. Then she told me those scary 3 words.


YOU HAVE CANCER


I just sat there, my mind blank and looked at the Doctor's face. I couldn’t get that message to my Brain. Me the Caregiver, the Trooper.. has cancer. I thought I just misunderstood her and looked at my parents.. who were crying.


So my worst Nightmare began that moment in that Office. I had cancer.


Luckily for me. It was in a very early stage and the treatment started… Surgery, Meds, Immunotherapy,...


Nearly one and half year after, surviving many doctor visits and sleepless nights. I was finally cured. I only could be cured that “fast” because it was found really early. Thanks to my persistent Godmother, who literally saved my Life.


Get tested, have check ups. It only can save your Life.


Chapter IV - Why?

All was good again. I could go on with my Life. Even more Stronger than before.


Then in 2012 i had another punch in my face. My Grandpa who raised me, who was a second Dad to me, was rushed one morning in the hospital because his hand and foot were black. Also it seems his organs were stopping to work. We thought first it was because of his age or something. He was 82 and 17 years ago he had a heart transplant. I mean every Life has to end some time and we thought this was his time now.


After tests, the doctors found out that he had a blood infection due a little wound on his food AND had lung cancer -  and it spread. His body was shutting off and we were losing him very fast.


Another strike from Cancer.
I was losing the person I love most besides my Parents.


My Grandpa was still conscious and he decided with my Grandma, not to do any treatment or life saving actions. I hated his decision but I also understood him. He lived his Life.


Exactly 1 week later, he fell asleep in the arms of my grandma who was sitting beside him.


She was broken because she lost her first and only Love. They were married 62 years.
I was broken because I lost my soulmate, My second Dad, my Grandfather.


RenĂ© (♰ 4th May, 2012)


It was a Hard year. Everything felt so numb, so empty. Still years later, no one dares to sit in his chair. He always be with us in our hearts and souls.


Chapter V - The light at the end of the Tunnel

The years after my Grandpas passing were tough and heartbreaking. I was helping my Grandma as much as I could. But now after 62 years, she is alone in that huge house but doesn’t want to leave it for an apartment. She is strong though, stronger than anyone I know.


We sit often in her kitchen, thinking and talking about all we went through. There will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. And we are getting there. My Grandma and my parents had few minor surgeries but nothing bad. Having parents that have Cardiac issues and Diabetes is sometimes hard but we learned to live with it. They are strong. Both worked hard in their Life. Both have issues with Joints, Spine, Rheuma, Arthritis. The Usual as some people will say :)


They are old lol that is what old people have.
(I really feel the head slap from my mom right now hehe)


One day in 2013 when my dad had his 6 month check up with the cardiologist, he was asked if he ever when to the Urologue for check-up and at age 62 it would be a good idea. I mean my Dad never went to an Urologue. He hates the Thought of it. His doctor said one checkup is enough. Just to be sure.


...Yeah sure...


Hell if my Dad knew what was coming for him, I think he would have thought twice about going to a “check-up” ever again. After checking front and back (I stay PG here since .. I mean you know what I am talking of) with the camera, and with our luck in this World, the doctor found something and wanted to do a biopsy of his intestine and prostate. My Dad who is a major Drama Queen thought he was already dead. -.- The doctor tried to explain him with Hands and Feet that it could be nothing but he wanted to be sure. Better Safe than Sorry.


So we literally bullied him into the biopsy (he still hates us for that lool) and waited those cruel weeks for the results to come back. And they came back with *sighs* another devastating news.


My Dad had Prostate Cancer.


Still early but it had to be taken care off ASAP. We were so crushed again. Is this nightmare never stopping? Why us? What did we do to deserve this? This was really a losing Game.


My Dad's nightmare began with his first surgery and treatment. He looked so hopeless and sad. Was pissed at everything and everyone. Didn’t want to talk or eat. It was scary seeing my proud strong Dad so helpless… hopeless. He felt so worthless and didn’t want us near him. Not even his own Mother. Even when he yelled at us to leave and suffering from the pain he was in, we always came back to visit him in Hospital. It was the hardest to my mom because once he yelled at her asking why she hasn’t divorced him yet? Our Family bond was broken. We all we broken.  But we kept fighting. For him.


The doctors said that the treatment went fine at this prostate but it spread to his bladder. So he had another surgery. And more treatment.


This nightmarish rollercoaster went on for 2 years straight. Literally killing our Hope, because it always came back. And my Dad looked sicker every month, lost a lot of weight and my parents Marriage was on the line.


My Dad is so stubborn and wanted everyone to think that he is worthless. It really was idiotic. We, his Family would never let him down. And my Mom and I were even more stubborn than him. We Girls had to team up on this.


With the time he learned that when yelling at us, he was yelling at a wall. A wall of Hope, Strength and Love. We fought to keep him with us, we fought the Fight that he wouldn’t want to do.

On February 15th, 2016 ..We, Family, Friends and my Dad, managed what we didn't thought would happen…. the Cancer was gone. Fully. Nothing left. My Dad was like me a SURVIVOR.


He will have his strength back. It just takes time to heal. Physically and Mentally.



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In all these years of my crazy rollercoaster called Life I learned ONE thing …


Never Give Up !!


Have Hope, Fight back. And one day you will succeed!

2008 I relayed for the first time.
2016 my Dad joined for the first time Relay For Life like I did…


As A SURVIVOR.
As part of this FIGHT.
As part of this JOURNEY.


I hope my Story will help you, Teach you and gives you Strength.
This whole Journey is a learning process.


From a little Child - to Caregiver - to Fighter - to Survivor.


Yours,

Thalia

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