Haley’s story: I am cancer-free

By Haley Galvin

If you would have told me six months ago that my birthday would consist of me sitting in a room for five-and-a-half hours getting chemotherapy, I would have told you there was no way. However, that was exactly how I spent my 22nd birthday, at my sixth and final treatment for ovarian cancer. 

I don’t often say out loud that I have, or had, cancer because while I am technically cancer-free, I still don’t feel entirely done with this journey. I don’t know if I ever will. I think there will always be some part of me that feels I am still someone with cancer. At the very least, I can now say I am a cancer survivor, even though it feels like I am too young to say that, and it is true in a sense. The percentage of women my age to have had this type of cancer is so low.

I still find it hard to believe I was the “lucky less than 1%.” Please note the sarcasm there. There is nothing lucky about this journey. It took my dream of children away from me. It took a lot of hope and joy away from me. The only thing I can say I am happy about is that it is over with, for the most part.

I will still have to go in for tests every few months for the next five years. But aside from that, there’s no more feeling sick for a week at a time for me. I will slowly be able to return to public activities and see more people as my immune system returns to normal. I will get my hair back. I am most excited about that. You never realize how important your hair is to you until it is falling out in the shower in chunks. I remember just sitting there crying as I looked at myself in the mirror, not recognizing who I saw staring back at me. It took a major toll on my confidence. 

I have learned a lot about myself along this long road. I learned who my true friends were and who is truly there for me through anything. 

I cannot thank my family enough. You have been such a huge support system. To my friends — for giving me a laugh over Zoom when I needed it. Everyone I work with —  thank you for being so accommodating. My sister Ashley — for all the wonderful texts and love! I can’t wait to see you, even if we have to have a masked-up Christmas. To Kristina, my best nurse friend — for helping me with literally anything and answering all the weird medical questions I had, and I couldn’t forget the countless phone calls filled with tears and laughs; don’t know what I would do without you. Sam, thank you for just studying with me or sitting with me so I didn’t always need to be alone.

To everyone I am sure I wasn’t able to mention, thank you for the endless love and support. 

I don’t ever like to say positive things about myself, but I am damn strong if I do say so. I have gotten through my worst nightmare, and I am still standing. Sure, I was knocked down a few times, but I got back up and I am ready to take on anything that may come my way. 

If I can get through this, I can get through anything. And that is something that is true about everyone. There is a secret warrior within us all, whether we know it or not. They are there, and they are waiting to come out when we need them. I never knew how strong I was until I was put to the test. I think I passed. And I will continue to pass and surpass every obstacle that is put in front of me. As will all of you. We have it in all of us. 

As I promised my boyfriend Matt six months ago, I never gave up, and I won’t ever stop fighting. I will keep that promise forever. 

I hope I may have helped at least one person by sharing what I went through. I hope those who read my words can find something to relate to or a spark of hope for themselves or someone they know.

Please keep this with you and keep the thoughts and prayers in your heart for those still fighting this hard fight. I know I will.

If anyone reading this ever wants to reach out to me and talk, ask questions about anything or just have an ear to listen to about your journey or a friend’s journey, feel free to contact me. I am here for those who need it. You are not alone. You are never alone in this. Fight hard. I am here for you.

We will do it together. I did it. I am cancer-free, and I am strong.