• Jenna

I took a page out of Forrest Gump’s book

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” so how do we turn even the marzipan bites into something sweet? Here's my personal reflection.

Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma while on holiday at a submission wrestling camp in St Barts, in the Caribbean. True story! I had spent the whole year frothing at the mouth, daydreaming about this camp while studying all year only to have to fly home on day 6.

Now some would say that this was bad luck or bad news, but that’s not how I see it. I got an opportunity to re-evaluate my life. Why hadn’t I done that before? I stopped and took some time to think about my lifestyle, my choice in friends, my career, you name it.

This was a chance for a genuine fresh start, one I hadn’t actually needed cancer to take.

I was also incredibly lucky. Yes, I had a highly aggressive, fast growing cancer, but it also responded really well to chemo and there were no underlying diseases. I also had the opportunity to discover the cancer because I was at the camp; had I been in South Africa I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor when I did.

In situations like that, you can choose to dwell on the negative and say, “I’m dying, I’m going to suffer” or you can choose to take the positive path and choose to make the best of a marzipan chocolate.

I listened to audio books about pirates at sea when I was nauseous so that I could imagine I was sea sick and not chemo/cancer sick. On my stronger days I went to festivals with my friends and kayaked on the sea. That kept me sane and physically strong enough to beat this thing.

The hardest part was accepting that my own body had turned against me and was attacking itself. Accepting that and mentally channeling into being healthy and strong was no easy feat, but trying to keep a normal lifestyle and find the small positives in day to day life is what worked.

So I learnt that if you can just remember that while it might be marzipan, it’s still a chocolate, life will be that much more rewarding. Take the moments to appreciate the positives in even the worst of situations and you might find that they aren’t so bad after all.