My name is Gloriana and I’m from Puerto Rico. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma when I was 18 years old.
While I was in the beginning of treatment, the movie “Beauty and the Beast” live-action came to the theaters. I really loved the movie so much that I brought its plot everywhere with me, including the chemo room. I remember sitting down on my chemo chair with my "Beauty and the Beast" blanket, watching the television and standing up every 30 minutes to pee. In one of those times that I stood up, a weird, yet tempting thought popped into my head. I stood up and started dancing the “Beauty and the Beast” song with the IV pole on my way to the bathroom. I laughed and maybe tried to ignore the fact that my veins were being occupied by some stranger that had decided to violently caress my most inner organs in order to save them. I was happy, smiling, willing and standing strong, but overall, I was fighting while my actions told everyone differently. Dancing around, embracing my bald head and using ever single second I had to live, not worrying how many of those I had left.
Looking at it now, the cancer was my beast. It was that thing that I saw at the beginning with fright and resentment, and along the way I started to appreciate what he had done in my life, no matter how crazy that sounds. I had learned who were my real friends, how precious life is, and to let go of everything and let God be the one to control every single aspect of my life. I chose not to see cancer as my antagonist, but as something that would show me how to see life in very different and enlightening way. Basically, I became the stranger that talks to you in the supermarket about life, the girl in college that talks to you about living life to the fullest, and without a doubt, a person that truly knows how great God’s mercy is.
Cancer brings to the table what we allow it to bring; to be more specific, we can transform any tragedy into laughter, or we can let it dim our light. When it comes to this disease I believe every one of us gets a package with it. This package includes tears, struggle, sadness, pain and many other unpleasant things, yet it also brings joy, laughter, strength, resilience, power, but overall, it brings out a new you to a world that desperately needs people to tell others that life is a delicate thing that we only have once, and that it should be lived fully.
We cancer patients and survivors become the people with the clearest of eyes that can enlighten others to stop living life with standards or with the constant belief that tomorrow will always come. We become the loudest laughers and we certainly embrace the beauty of a today.
I am so blessed to be here today. I pray all of us who have been touch with cancer, become a light to those who need it and that our faces are filled with smiles without limits. You all deserve the very best! Never forget to use cancer for growth, because you were given since the very beginning, the power to transform the sorrow into joy. You are light! I love you all!