Meet Mariah Michalowski
Survivorship means I get a first chance at seeing something that I was missing before.
The oldest line in the books is that going through cancer “opened my eyes”, but that is the reality of it. Cancer broke me out of my secure bubble and showed me the rest the world, instead of just my world. Without cancer I would most likely, as a high school teenage girl, be worried about first world problems, like where is my phone, what is the wifi password, or does this dress make me look fat? I don’t fret over these minuscule “problems” because I understand that they are not problems at all.
Going through treatment, I started to notice the people around me. Their lives began to matter to me much more than they did before. I suppose valuing lives is something one does when they realize that life itself is fragile, and theirs might be ending soon. Towards the beginning of my treatment is where I began to cherish the moments, something I rarely did before. The moments of me eating a steak, laughing with my friends, hugging my mom, and even crying. l remembered all these moments, even the sad ones, because it means I was still there-still breathing. This mentality continues to stay with me till this day.
Cancer has a lot of winding roads and bumps, but people were there for me, donating to me along the way. That was the most incredible feeling in the world, to have people care about me and donate items to me when I knew my mom was not able to. So after, instead of focusing on myself, I began listening and supporting others. I helped my friends and family with problems, but they were not the only ones. Once I realized that my community and others like it needed help, I put my energy into helping them. I stilJ volunteer and donate whatever I can, whether it is time, money, or items because I know what it feels like to be on the other end. It scares me to imagine that if I was never diagnosed with cancer, would I be this giving towards others, would I be the person I am today – I know that answer would be no. Living through cancer, to be able to tell the story, shaped me into the better person I am today.
Most people know the saying “every day could be your last”, but they do not live by it. I do because I know how true that statement is. Now, I live for myself, for my hopes and dreams. So much so that I am pursuing a career in acting – my dream and one thing I am truly passionate about. To many it may seem far-fetched and unobtainable. People say I should choose a career elsewhere or at least have a strong back-up plan. Despite their opinions, my mind never altered its course because I have one life to live, and the life I will live is my own. Going through cancer, surviving cancer, gave me the courage to go out on a limb and chase my dreams, no matter how crazy they appear to others. This second chance at seeing life gave me lots of amazing, life-changing experiences and hopes, but most of all, it gave me courage.