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People say that I’m an inspiration.

Really, I’m just a chick who got cancer.

People say I’m brave.

I say I didn’t have a choice. It’s easy to be brave when the other option is to curl up and wait for death to take you. It’s true, I didn’t let anyone take me and I chose to fight, but it wasn’t a battle I stepped into willingly. It wasn’t even a battle I knew I was going to have to fight. I didn’t ask for this, so when people say I’m brave or I’m strong, to a huge degree it rings false. I’m no warrior. I just won’t let anyone—or anything, especially cancer—knock me down.

I got stronger even as my body weakened.

I bought crazy tee-shirts: Straight Out Of Chemo/My Oncologist Does My Hair—as a kind of modern-day war paint.

I became a warrior even when I cried in the shower, kneeling because I was too tired to stand, feeling the hot water hit my head then take a chunk of hair as it dribbled down the drain.

Cancer is the weirdest dichotomy and being a cancer patient is one even weirder. You’re strong when all you can do it cry. You’re doing everything you need to when you’ve spent the whole day in bed.

There were days I was too tired to sleep.

Moments completely lost because my mind wouldn’t work.

Lengths lost because I couldn’t get my feet to move past a shuffle or my joints unlocked.

Some days, the pain was unimaginable.

Some days I felt fine.

Those days may have been the worst because cancer screws with your body and mind like that, dangling one delicious, pain-free, glimpse-of-your-old-life carrot in front of your face every now and again. It’s like a breath of fresh air in between all the others that smell like hospital disinfectant and clinical neatness. In between the others that have the medicinal stink of numbing cream, of “just a little sting,” of that first gush of saline that you can taste at the back of your throat while they flush your port.

And you soldier on.

And people call you brave.

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