"Cancer has handed me a new lens on life. One that is full of possibility, personal growth, and lightness." - Miicayla
If there is one thing in the world you could change, what would it be and how would you do it?
Something that discourages me about our society involves our approach and mentality to the arts, specifically dance. While studying abroad in Israel, it has become very apparent how important of a role dance plays into the society and culture of the country. Within Judaism, dance is extremely dominant in religious and social practices. Live music surrounds you as you walk through villages and markets. The art of dance in a performance aspect is also widely viewed by many different demographics. Not just informed and aspiring dancers pay to see dance companies and projects performed. People of all ages, genders, educations go out of their way to support the culture of dance here. Batsheva Dance Company, run by Ohad Naharin is considered to be the voice of Israelis. They specifically deal with approaching the conflicts of Palestine and Israel through the lens of performance. Dance is a universal structure that allows us to approach societal, personal, and political issues. This allows the audience to view topics in a vulnerable state and approach them with new and open lenses. I believe that if we implemented more artistic studies through our education, it would allow for an enhanced society and understanding of the self. Dance allows us to research the self through the natural movement of the body. Anyone can do it. It is a spiritual and healthy practice that can allow humans to expand their boundaries. Understanding more can only enhance our experiences throughout the world.
Where do you see yourself 5 years after graduation?
I would’ve never guessed that seven years ago I would be diagnosed with CML. I would’ve never guessed seven years later that I would be completing college. Five years after graduation I hope to be continuing to grow emotionally and spiritually while experiencing excellent health. I hope to travel. I hope to be spreading the research of the body through somatic practices. I hope to be creating and performing through dance. I hope to be happy.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
The chicken crossed the road to reach the next chapter.
What makes you happy?
Dance, movement research, understanding the body and it’s connection to the subconscious and conscious thought processes, live music, fresh produce, meeting other survivors, seeing new environments.
What type of cancer were you diagnosed with and when?
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), August 2009
How did the diagnosis of cancer rock your world?
Being diagnosed with cancer caused me to take a step back. It allowed me to realize what I really wanted from life. It forced me to be aware of the present and not yearning for the past or future. Cancer has handed me a new lens on life. One that is full of possibility, personal growth, and lightness.
Describe the process of getting back into life after treatment.
Returning to life after diagnosis was a difficult journey. Due to an injury which caused the discovery of my illness, I was unable to walk and therefore unable to dance. Because of this boundary, I pushed myself daily through physical therapy to relearn the simple act of walking. This took a lot of patience in which I first learned and applied listening and responding to my body.
How has overcoming cancer made you stronger?
We can’t look towards overcoming something in order to gain strength or a reward. Instead we must endure the obstacle, live in it, understand it. It is through this that enhancement is produced. This enhancement can be identifying a weakness, a passion, a dominance. I believe that by moving through my cancer timeline, I have learned more about myself. I have begun to sculpt my career path and goals because of it. I have become involved in volunteer work that has been inspiring and close to my heart. I have met people who have connected to me through their cancer experience. This “overcoming” hasn’t made me stronger, but it has carved me as an individual and therefore enhanced my overall quality of life.
Many people aren’t familiar with the financial, physical, and emotional toll when treatment is over. Describe your process of recovery after treatment spiritually, emotionally, and financially.
While financial burden is a huge setback post treatment, I believe the emotional and spiritual aspects are much harder to work with. Without positivity, a survivor cannot grow from this experience. Shutting out the world and all it has to offer will not aid in physical or mental rehabilitation. I think we sometimes fail to realize how important honesty and positivity are to the timeline of treatment.
What does it mean to have a support community during cancer treatment?
Having a support community during treatment is extremely crucial. My mother and father have been by my side since the very beginning. And I owe a lot of my strength towards this process to them. They balanced coddling and space extremely well. It is also possible to have inhumane sources of support. Another support community for me was dance. I had a consistent urge to move and listen to music. This made it a necessity to relearn how to walk. Without dance, I do not think I would’ve overcame my injury and diagnosis. It has helped me to unconsciously process things and in a sense acts as a nonverbal kinetic therapy.
What does it mean to receive scholarship money to help you achieve your academic goals?
It is a huge honor to be recognized for academic and personal achievement. I have always loved school. I’ve loved the routine of it, the consistency, the task oriented outline. But it was not until college that I was recognized as having academic potential, specifically through my studies in dance. This support from MHH is not just a tangible gift, but an emotional reward.
How has the MHH scholarship helped you?
The MHH scholarship has allowed me to finish my undergraduate studies at Rutgers University. It has aided me in supporting my educational dreams. Without this scholarship, I would have had to reconsider returning to school for my final year.
Top 3 things you are grateful for since remission.
Intimate survivorship connection and relationships, my amazing parents, my amazing body that has understood how to support me and keep me healthy
Top 3 life goals (places you’d like to visit, things you want to do, etc.)
1.I would like to visit Asia
2.I would like to open a cancer treatment based non-profit
3.I would like to learn how to ride a bike
Biggest take-away(s) from your cancer experience.
I learned how to process things. I learned to be more appreciative of small moments. I learned to be selfish and take experiences for myself. I learned there are always new beginnings. I learned to be silly. I learned about my passion for the human body and all of it’s amazing possibilities.
Advice for other young adult cancer survivors.
This is going to change you. But change is good. It shows us the unknown and how to overcome it. You are allowed to be scared. Because if you weren’t scared, you would have nothing to lose. Take in this experience for what it has to offer. And most of all remember at all times, everything you are feeling is valid.
Words to live by.
Everything you are feeling is valid.
More info on Micayla's Hero Powers here.
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Want to sponsor a scholarship for a future MHH recipient? Learn more and take on the SCHOLAR SQUAD CHALLENGE. - See more at: http://myhometownheroes.org/blog/index.html?article_id=46#sthash.UJH5V4yI.dpuf