Why I Cut My Hair
Why I Cut My Hair: @mizzshay123
#WHYICUTMYHAIR: SHAYLIA THOMAS
Cancer sucks, what’s new? Yes, senior year in college with a whole life to look forward to after graduation, and it has officially been confirmed that we aren’t children anymore. Instead, we are new to the adult world. Imagine receiving loads of chemo and nasty hospital food. November 6, 2014, was the day my life changed when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma). This has been the toughest crisis I have ever had to deal with.
I was almost half way done finishing my first semester of senior year when I received the worst possible news ever. It all started the week of Halloween. Like any other college student, you start to get ready for all the events and celebrations. Unfortunately for me, that wasn’t the case. I spent my weekend in bed tired with stomach pain and nausea. I thought it was a stomach virus because colds and viruses are always traveling around on college campuses, but I tried everything and nothing seemed to help. Finally, I made my way to the hospital thinking what could possibly be wrong. The doctors ran test and told me it can be a stomach virus or cancer. Like any other person I immediately thought: “It is definitely a stomach virus.” Two days later, after running tests and constantly drawing blood, the results were in — I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma stage 3.
All I could think was: “How am I going to finish school?” School has always been my number one priority. I wanted to be successful and carry out my dreams of becoming a positive influence in the lives of others, especially helping young people accomplish their educational goals. In that moment, all of that would’ve been taken away from me. I had two options from then on, either take a medical leave and come back to graduate or carry out the rest of the semester. I knew I wasn’t going to let this stop me from graduating; it was going to be tough but I was determined to finish. I said to myself, “this isn’t fair,” but you deal with the cards you are dealt right? So the major question was what steps I would have to take in order to graduate.
Well soon after, the doctors explained the necessary steps towards beating this cancer. I had to have six cycles of chemotherapy that is 12 treatments in total. Once every 14 days. I then decided that days I wasn’t sick or receiving chemotherapy, I would carry out my assignments to the best of my abilities. Of course, I needed my professors to be willing to work with me and my advisor. Usually 3 to 4 days after I was feeling ok. This would be the day I start to catch up on everything that was due.
I had help and support from my professors, family, friends, and especially my advisor. I couldn’t have done it without her. I was lucky enough to finish most of my work from first semester but I still needed to take finals and hand in last assignments. That was the easy part. Now the hard part was completing capstone, which is the end of the year assignment. I did an independent study and met with my advisor once a week for capstone. There was a written part and a presentation part. I did my capstone on why sex education in New York state should be mandatory. I ended up passing and receiving a decent grade especially under the circumstances however, I was disappointed because I knew if I hadn’t been sick and had more time I would’ve done better.
I wanted to apply for grad school but it didn’t seem like that was going to happen. I knew that I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t going to let this disease stop me from what I wanted most which was being successful and carrying out my dreams. Short term, I wanted to get my master’s to help young adults, whether that is in a high school as a guidance counselor or college advisor. I know with the experiences I have been through and with the people lives I have inspired, I could make a difference. There is no better feeling than to help others. I chose young adults because that is the time they are confused or not sure about certain factors in life. To have a helping hand or guidance makes a huge difference. I know my grades from my last year of college aren’t the best, but I have the ambition and motivation that most people don’t. I am committed and driven.
A couple months after graduation, I relapsed. The cancer was back. Not once but twice I would have to fight again. Once again putting everything in my life on hold it was unbelievable. This time, I was even stronger. This was the last time. Now I am back in remission and undergoing a stem cell transplant. This will up my chances in curing my disease, because Hodgkin’s is curable. During this time I was going to set goals for myself. I knew I would recover and shortly after would need to press play to carry out my long term goals. Long term, I would like to run a halfway house for runaway teens or move up in the school district helping teens. High school is one of the toughest stages in life and we all need people who are still willing to help out the confused and at risk youth. If not them then who? I believe I have demonstrated well that you can’t let circumstances determine the way you want to live your life. This wasn’t a continuation of what I been though, but a start to what I will achieve.
Do you want to share #WhyICutMyHair? Email your story to email@example.com.