May 22, 2024
Survivor Voices

Survivor Voices: Lyssette, a skin cancer survivor

We are grateful and honored to share today’s "Survivor Voices" feature with an excerpt taken from an interview with Lyssette, a Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) skin cancer survivor. 

Lyssette is five years out from treatment and remains in remission, but their words very boldly & honestly address the challenges that survivorship brings for many in the cancer community. 

“I was diagnosed right before my 30th birthday and I remember I was so overwhelmed and had to tell my doctor: ‘one thing at a time, please.’ 5 years of scans and I’m currently in remission. ​​For me, being a cancer survivor means having an immense amount of respect for what my body is capable of doing; good and bad. My body has gone through hell and back.” 

“I wish I had had access to trauma therapy (while undergoing treatment). Getting diagnosed with cancer at a young age was very difficult. I didn’t know anyone else my age dealing with cancer. I had been receiving Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but it didn’t really address how deeply traumatized I was. I was already diagnosed with PTSD, but it wasn’t until I started trauma therapy that I felt I started to unpack and unload all the complex trauma I was carrying with me. My insurance allowed me one appointment with a music therapist who sang and played guitar before my first treatment. It was such a beautiful and grounding experience. I also was fortunate to have had reiki sessions donated to me. With a sea of painful appointments, it was nice to be able to just lay there without needles and loud clanging machines or white lab coats and to just be able to just be in my body safely. I was able to cry if I needed to, and to rest. I also wish there was more information available to me about the other issues that can arise from radiation therapy. I had lymphedema in my legs for almost a year, and I still have a “deep tan” from where I had radiation on my chest. Even so many years later.”

“Survivorship looks like keeping my appointments with my specialists and imaging appointments as well. It means continuing to be vigilant. It means scanning my body with my eyes and gliding my fingers over every inch. Being familiar with what’s normal for me, and what isn’t and sharing with my team. It means being a steward to this vessel while I have it. Speaking up and listening to my gut, but also being patient and looking at my body as it is, instead of fixating on all the ways it isn’t what I thought it would look like. I’m learning to be present, to be kind and patient with myself. I deserve that. We have survived a lot.” 

Thank you, Lyssette, for beautifully capturing the challenges, struggles, and ongoing needs of so many in the cancer community. To learn more about Lysette’s experience and to follow their journey, you can keep up on Instagram at @BlackQueerRoar.

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