My bags were packed; my gas tank was full. After work, my best friends and I were headed to a wedding in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country. We had been looking forward to this weekend for months.
I remember looking at the clock all day trying to count down the hours… until my phone rang. I heard my dermatologist say, “Kayce, you have Stage 1 Melanoma. There is nothing else we can do here. You will need to go to MD Anderson for cancer treatment.”
That day also happened to be my 25th birthday.
An ‘awkward’ age
Never in my life did I think I would be diagnosed with cancer… especially just a few years after I graduated from college.
The majority of the time when people approached me after hearing the news, I would get comments along the lines of:
- “Wow, you are so young…”
- “How are your parents dealing with it?”
- “Will you have help financially? If you need extra support, please don’t hesitate to call.”
What I quickly realized was that my cancer diagnosis came at a very interesting time in my life: not young enough to be “a kid” with cancer, not old enough to be perceived as “an adult” with cancer. I was sort of in limbo.
My balancing act
The strangest part for me was watching how my family and friends “saw” me throughout the early stages of my diagnosis.
No matter how old I get, my parents will always see my as “their baby”. On the flip side, no matter how old my little sister gets, Ally will always see me as her strong big sister.
At 25-years-old, I found myself confused on how to act.
Older people treated me like I was way too young to be a cancer patient. It seemed like my friends didn’t know what to say or how to act because I was the only person they knew at our age dealing with it. While I knew deep down it wasn’t true, sometimes it felt like I was the only 25-year-old in the world that had cancer. I was just… different.
I would find myself almost reverting into child-like behavior when dealing with the reality of what I was facing.
But every time I walked around MD Anderson, I saw kids… babies… dealing with situations much worse than mine. Kids who should be out playing with their friends at recess were battling cancer. I thought to myself, “Do they even know what is going on inside their body? Are they old enough to understand?”
I knew that I was old enough to process the situation. I wasn’t a child, even when it felt like I was one.
What I learned
People don’t know how to act when someone they love tells them that they have cancer. Everyone will cope with it differently, and I spent way too much energy trying to act a specific way.
I was given the gift of a new life at a young age. I chose to believe that maybe God uses young cancer patients, like me, in a special way. As crazy as it is to say, maybe I was SUPPOSED to have cancer in my mid-20s.
It wasn’t about playing a specific role while fighting cancer. It was about beating the disease so that I could use the rest of the many years ahead of me to better the world.
I have the opportunity to share my story, and to love and support those battling this horrible disease — no matter their age or stage in life.
Originally posted on LIVESTRONG Foundation, July 2, 2015