My name is Gabriela Garibay, I am a full time student in Sacramento State University and I was diagnosed with cancer on May of 2008. I consider this the best experience of my life because it changed my life and the person who I am in a way I did not expect it. It was unexpected and I had always been a very healthy person so I never thought I could have cancer.
It all started with a knee pain, that went on for nearly a year and even though I went to the emergency room many times there was no further testing because I didn’t have health insurance. Then I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which seemed weird because it was only my left knee that was swollen and in pain. I followed the treatment as it was prescribed because I could not stand the pain anymore and other aspects of my life were being affected too. However, the pain did not stop and I went to the emergency room looking for more answers. Once again I was sent home and told that they could not help me I just had to deal with the symptoms of arthritis.
To my luck, a doctor called me the next day and said he wanted me to get an MRI done because he saw something abnormal in my bone. I went that same day after school and I can truly say it is a date I will never forget. I had the MRI done and I was admitted to the hospital immediately, after a week and four biopsies I was sent home without knowing exactly what I had. I knew it could be cancer but I was just hoping for better results since it was unsure. Then I was referred to another doctor and had 3 more biopsies done. Finally, I was diagnosed with a cancer called lymphoma and the chaos in my family begun. I could not stand to see the pain in my parent’s eyes, just thinking of it brings tears to my eyes. I have learned so much about myself and to really appreciate what I have because in a blink of an eye everything you have can disappear.
I take this experience has Gods way of letting me know I needed to be closer to him. For some reason every time something bad happens to us humans we turn to God for help and I was not the exception. I put my life in God’s hands and whatever he decides is best for me, I respect. However, I learned to enjoy every single day of life and to always help others because you never know when you will need the help. Ever since day one that I was admitted to the hospital the first time, I was astonished by all the love and support I received from people I did not even expected. I could not help to feel like crying once I realize how many people cared about me, I was receiving calls even from Mexico from so many persons, and it was a thriller for me. It is just amazing because until this day I receive many calls from people who want to know how I’m progressing, people praying for me, sending me food and donations. It so hard to explain how I feel and how this has had affected me. I do not believe in self pity because it only brings you down, I believe in fighting with everything you have and not being a victim. As I was going through chemotherapy, there were times I could not help to feel weak mentally but I had to keep strong because a big part of fighting any type of disease as a lot to do with your mind.
Today I am a survivor and I am afraid that the cancer will come back some day however I learned to enjoy every day like it was the lost one we had. I want to study speech pathology because I have always liked to be around children and I want to help children. But when I undergone chemotherapy and I saw so many kids in the clinic that were also receiving it, my wish to do something for children grew. It broke my heart to see these babies experiencing chemotherapy and that motivated me to avoid feeling sick even if I did feel very sick. I wish I had the cure for cancer and could give it to all those who are ill but since I cannot I keep them in my prayers. I am going to graduate and help others in any way I can just like so many people has helped me. I thank God for choosing me and no other member of my family to go through this because I do not know if I could resist seeing any of my love ones go through all the side effects and symptoms of cancer and the chemotherapy treatment.
I have always love taking pictures and to me being bald was awesome because I always wanted a picture of myself bald headed. It made me value every part of my body and be proud of whom I am and all the obstacles I have overcome. I would love to win this contest but what I want to do the most is spread cancer awareness and motivate those fighting against cancer.