I sat in the doctor’s office alone, thinking of all the things I needed to add to my grocery list, and feeling slightly annoyed at having to actually come in for my results.

Then the doctor came in and she wasn’t alone. She brought her nurse practitioner, who also happened to be my friend. It was then that I knew what they were going to say. Cancer.

I had no idea that it encompassed my entire left breast, from top to bottom, left to right. So, at the age of 36, I had a double mastectomy. I was given no other choice.

After my diagnosis, I reset everything. I gained a true clarity of purpose and priorities. People whom I thought were friends may have disappeared, but I gained new friendships more meaningful than I had previously known. Even family members revealed themselves. My vision of my future was reset. I began to see the world through new eyes, with a new perspective.

On October 11, 2016, I was declared cancer free. I was given the chance to live, not to simply exist, as I had been doing. I left a very unhealthy marriage. I sought out and received a promotion, as well as a transfer to the city where I am seeking my doctorate in neuroscience, which is still in process. I am fighting for myself and I will never stop. I didn’t survive cancer. I conquered it.