One night I was feeling terrible. I believe I vomited six times that day, until the only thing left to throw up was bile. I asked God, “Help me sleep, please.” I have never fallen asleep easily. But I found comfort talking to Him and slept.
My last day of chemo was January 18, 2010. A year had passed since I started getting sick, and finally my sores started to heal. I auditioned for All-State and was thrilled to again be selected. Chemo was not going to stand in my way. I was thinking, “This is the last time I have to feel so sick.” During rehearsals, I had to take bathroom breaks to throw up, but it was a great day. All the girls gathered around me and said, “You are amazing!”
I am now in college. I have scans every now and then and am way more in tune with my body. I don’t want to go through that ever again, but right now I am cancer free!
There have been some long-term effects. The left side of my mouth is a little lame. I can bend at the waist, but I can’t bend my ankles, so I can’t do a proper squat. I developed neuropathy, damage to the nerves in my hands and feet, but I still find ways to work out. I lost movement in my jawbone because of the radiation.
I couldn’t even sing for a time. In fact, before the Florida All-State Conference, one of my teachers told me it was not a good idea to sing yet because it could mess up my throat, but I didn’t wait. My tone is a little raspier, but I don’t let problems deter me. I graduated twice—with my classmates at Miramar High School, where I was in the top 5 percent of my class, and with my online class, where I was valedictorian.
When things were stressful, I loved to go to the beach, sit on the sand and smell the salt. Even now, when I go to the beach I take time to meditate on where I was and how far I’ve gotten. Many of the other cancer patients are still struggling, but I had it less than one year. I am about to graduate from college. I thank God for that.
If you are struggling with cancer or some other challenge, I would like you to know that no fight is impossible. My scripture is 1 Corinthians 10:13: “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” Don’t panic. No load is too heavy. You can push through it. He is always there. You can always turn to Him. He will never let go.
Giving up is not an option—not ever.
First published in the July/August issue of the Message of the Open Bible. Published with permission. Tiffany Samuels attends Living Word Open Bible Church in Cooper, Fla. A student at the University of Florida, she majors in health education and behavior and plans to be a midwife.
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