We are thrilled to share today’s "Survivor Voices" feature with excerpts taken from an interview with Nina Luker, a Stage IV Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor.
Though Nina is a few years out of treatment, these words so powerfully tell her story and the challenges that many survivors can experience as they navigate life after cancer treatment.
“The same day that COVID-19 became a pandemic, March 11, 2020, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. During my treatment, I turned to a new platform: TikTok. I started documenting how I felt each day and what my thoughts were around my entire experience. I never knew people would gravitate toward this type of storytelling. Over the course of my treatment, I leaned heavily into this community of strangers, who made it possible for me to connect virtually and feel their love from afar. I called these people my ‘army’, and they would call themselves ‘Team Neen’. As my following continued to grow, at first from three followers to over 30,000, it allowed me opportunities that I never thought were possible. I attribute how I overcame my treatment by the love, mentality, and optimism that the world brought to me with every vulnerable post.”
“After treatment, I experienced a raw understanding that my community would start to fade away. I was no longer an active cancer patient, I didn’t look like a cancer patient, and I was forced into a lonely state of fending for myself. What I loved about the VivorCare program was hearing from other people who were feeling the same thing, and reinforcing that I wasn’t alone. Every question and conversation surrounded very similar themes of symptom management, confidence in having a new identity, and using the second chance at life as an opportunity for greatness.”
“Survivorship to me is the second phase of a health diagnosis. It’s when an individual comes out on the other side, beating all odds. There’s a lot of pressure and confusion around the word “survivorship”. Our society has a way of making this word limiting, as though once you survive cancer there’s an expectation you can take on anything in the world, when in fact the traumas and tribulations of what the cancer created, make it nearly impossible to feel that freedom.”