Treatment Survivor

Medically speaking, I am a cancer survivor.

In truth, I am nothing more than a cancer treatment survivor. I survived chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and a stem cell transplant. In deeper truth, I’m not sure I can take that title either, because the effects of the treatment have left me ridden with anxiety, fear, and lead me down a dim path of endless questions.

I’m not a survivor. I’m just an outlier, virtually unique in circumstance.

I was 14 when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. I was 16 when I found out that the cancer had returned. It was also at 16 years old that my parents attempted to discuss with me what was surely the most disheartening effect of additional cancer treatment: unavoidable infertility. I was 16 when my response to them was, “Ok. Am I allowed to go to the lacrosse game with my friends tonight?”

The idea of the inability to reproduce becomes irrelevant to a 16-year-old more concerned about high school social status and the never-ending reminder of a cold, bald, head contrasted against the long, healthy locks of friends.

Fast forward. I am now 27 years old. In medical terms, I am cured. In truth, I am 27 years old and I can’t visit a doctor’s office on my own, for fear of what I may find out or a procedure that may have to occur.

At 27, I cannot find a single medical professional who knows how to provide care to a childhood treatment survivor. I don’t go a day without talking myself out of the premise that something is wrong. A twinge: nerve damage. A headache: brain cancer. Poor memory: Alzheimer’s. All listed as possible late effects of the cancer treatment I received.

At 27 years old, I live with one undeniable truth that overshadows all others: This could have been prevented.

Truth: My teenage lifestyle caused my body to develop cancer. Our ignorance as a society on how to care for the human body and mind has caused an epidemic of preventable disease.

This became evident to me as I sat in the office of my oncologist at 18 years old. I heard her tell me for a third time that my CAT scan revealed cancer yet again.

It was my parents who decided to lead me down a different path this time around. It was a path toward healing, and I’ve never looked back. I didn’t go to college the very next day, as was planned. Instead, I stayed home and wondered if eating a salad instead of a bologna sandwich would make the cancer go away. I stopped eating pop-tarts and started eating fruit. I had never known vegetables but we became acquaintances and eventually, good friends.

Three months after eliminating food from a factory and replacing it with food from the earth, a secondary CAT scan showed no sign of disease. This is where my mission began. “Hey everyone! I got rid of cancer by eating vegetables!” And again, the truth: had I known how to take care of my body from the start, I would never have had cancer.

Armed with this knowledge, it is now my mission to deliver it to as many people as I can. I do that through motivational speaking. I’m starting with women. Women have the power and desire to take control of their health, and influence others around them to do the same.

It will be exactly 10 years from that life-changing day this August. My mission has now expanded to new realms I never thought possible. My desire for learning and discovery will never cease.

True wellness is more than food. True wellness involves your mind and spirit, your emotions and your relationships. I’m 10-years-deep, but it could take me a lifetime to learn all there is to know about wellness.

My cancer could have been prevented, but I will not dwell on that. Instead, I will use the fear and anxiety that it has caused for the greater good. My chin is up, my eyes are focused, and I will get my message across.

In medical terms, I am a cancer survivor. If that gives me the platform that I need to accomplish my mission, then I will gladly accept the title.

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About the Author | Kara Frair

Kara is an enthusiastic advocate for women's wellness. She delivers her story of cancer survival through motivational speaking. Kara is a wellness coach and author of the book series, "How Should I Eat?" She is also the owner of women's wellness company, Wellness Babe. Kara is an avid Kentucky basketball fan, and is a proud native of Syracuse, NY and graduate of Winthrop University.

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5 comments to "Treatment Survivor"

  • Michele Hierholzer

    Thanks for sharing your story Kara. You are an inspiration!

  • Cindy Mulpagano ( Querino)

    Kara… I guess you would be my second cousin! And I have to say.. I’m so proud of you for having the strength it took to get through all of this and especially the courage it took to take a different route when dx’d a 3rd time. I am so elated that your parents steered you into healthy living. I wished now I had made my kids eat more veggies. And now, as a Grandmother.. … I shove fruits and veggies every chance I get ! Please continue to talk about your experiences so, more people can connect to a healthier life and solution to a very scary feeling when diagnosed with Cancer.. God Bless you and the Family!! :)

  • Ashley Purhenn

    This is a phenomenal message. I have never had cancer myself but have researched the power of food and the effects it has on us. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sue Virag

    Thank you Kara for sharing your experiences with us and I am so glad you are a survivor! I will definitely share your words of wisdom! God Bless you!

  • Maysa

    I loved your message, at first I was worried…coming from a “the secret” believer and follower, I just kept reading in hopes that your worries would seize. Nothing can lead you to health more than believing it. Taking action and taking care of yourself. Then you took a turn, to healthy eating, these are my sentiments exactly. I’m so thankful I was able to read this post and that you were brave enough and dared enough to just say it. I’m glad you’re a surviver and that you’re getting stronger everyday. Thanks for writing this piece.