Fearless: bold, brave, courageous. The way my short 26 years on this Earth have gone, I assumed I had no other choice but to be fearless. I never doubted, I never second guessed. I always trusted my mom when she would say to me, “everything will be ok”.
I was born with Goldenhar Syndrome. As google sums it up, “it is a rare congenital defect characterized by incomplete development of the ear, nose, soft palate, and lip”. In other words, my face was not symmetrical. I was born with half of a left eyelid causing a severe eye infection which would leave me completely blind in one eye, my eyes were very far apart, I had skin tags by my nose and ears, my nose was underdeveloped, and I had half of a vertebra (which would later lead to scoliosis). Being a rare syndrome, finding a doctor that could help, and whom my parents trusted, was rough. My first surgery was at 2 years old. It was an 18 hour+ surgery where they would try to bring my eyes closer together. Unfortunately there were no changes after that long surgery. It wasn’t until my mom found the top craniofacial (bones/face) doctors and team at UCLA who she felt could finally help. They performed multiple surgeries on my head and face from age 2 all the way to age 12. In junior high I had 2 back surgeries to correct my scoliosis. After those surgeries, I assumed I’d be surgery free for a while and lead more of a normal life, free of bandages and hospital stays.
Fast forward to finishing my first year as an undergrad at Chapman University studying business and art. I had a cold, which was thought to be bronchitis. This bronchitis ended up being Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 20 years old (July 2010). WHAT. Life was pretty surreal at this point. I had a tumor the size of a tennis ball in my lung, collapsing it. I went through 6 months of chemotherapy and went into remission on February 10th, 2011, one day before my birthday. Talk about best present ever.
Now, that was my medical past of 26 years summed up in just a few paragraphs, but I’m sure you get the gist. I was always faced with an obstacle, as we all are. However, for me I never thought I could not do it or get passed it. Honestly I just wanted to get that surgery done, go to that doctor’s appointment quickly, get through that treatment, in order to move forward. Whatever I had to do, I did it. This mentality is one that I am so thankful to have. Not to say I have this mentality 100% of the time, I am only human. But it is my optimism and strength that has got me to the place where I am in my life. I went through painful treatments with a smile because I always thought being happy was so much easier to do than to be sad or angry. I never ask, “why me?”. Anything can happen to anybody. I would never trade any of my experiences. I am stronger because of them.
The main reason I survived was because of my fearlessness. It is this mentality that I am trying to get back to 100%. I know it’s still in me, but at times it vanishes. Which is ok–we are human. I’ve been having more doubts, more anxiety, as I approach these “self-discovery” years in my mid twenties. Questions creep up about career, relationships, purpose. So here I am being fearless in expressing this insecurity. I know in my heart what I want to do, and this blog was the first.
Let’s get this party started and be fearless together.