This is our new series featuring a collection of narratives and photographs from the book New Beginnings: The Triumph of 120 Survivors by photographer, author and cancer survivor Bill Aron.
Cancer Survivor: Aurora Avila – Endoscopy Technician, Surgical Center Physician’s Assistant, Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Age 31.
I was 31-years old, five months into my marriage, and in the first trimester of a pregnancy that I had to terminate. Then came chemotherapy, then surgery, then radiation. And in the middle of it all, I had an emergency appendectomy. A year later I separated from my husband. The entire experience was an awakening for sure.
Cancer forced me to get to know myself deeply, and it forced a spiritual growth that I had never imagined or expected. When you are looking at yourself in the mirror, completely nude without even a strand of hair on your head, you have no choice but to see the real you.
After going through something like this, there is never a “normal” again. There is only a “better.” It would be easier to have a normal life, but I don’t think I would ever want that. I call it an awakening. Why would I want to go back to sleep? My life is so much better because of everything I went through. Even If I could wave a magic wand and take it all away, I would never do that.
Cancer itself is not a gift, but the lessons you learn as a result of the experience are the gifts. I feel like it will always be my greatest accomplishment — not just to survive cancer, but to do so without anger or resentment. I chose to thrive rather than just survive. That is the choice.