One Woman’s Fight Told in her Own Book
By Alexa Cucchiara
Staff Published Author
“Wait, you wrote a book? That is like 30 essays. Wow, literally a novel… I could never do that,” a classmate recently said to me. I chuckled back.
When people think of writing a book, they tend to believe that it is an impossible task. Contrary to their belief, is not beyond the bounds of possibility. It is simply a tedious and time-consuming project that requires dedication, sacrifice, and grit. It took me about nine solid months of brainstorming, revisiting memories, creating stories, and editing, restructuring and reframing chapters. I looked at writing “Power to Persevere” as my side job during the latter part of my junior year here at Fordham University and my full-time job this past summer. Even with the amount of work I put into my book, it was not until just a few days before my manuscript was due to my copy editor for my final major deadline this past September that it all clicked: the title, theme, and purpose. Perseverance is what I wanted to portray.
Now, before I started to write, I had one goal in mind. I wanted to create something I wish I had to read and relate to during my fight for life and could have found comfort in while taking weekly trips to my oncologist’s office. I needed something that I could take notes in and ultimately use to help me take action and spark positive change. And yes, you read that correctly. During the first week of what was supposed to be my actual junior year of college, I was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I was 19 years of age, and just a few days after I turned 20, I started chemotherapy. I was physically and mentally unprepared to go through this challenge. I did not want to drop out of school for a whole entire year and put a hold on everything I worked so hard to achieve academically. The thought of fighting for my life was certainly not on my to-do list.
Fast forward months later when chemotherapy was over, the hair on my head grew back like a Chia Pet sprouting its little green leaves, my skin glowed back with olive pigment, and my body strengthened enough to exercise again. All of these small milestones that seemed almost impossible and out of reach were actually conceivable. Within them, I was beginning to remember how it felt to be alive. I was born again and slowly started to appreciate my second chance of life. This was a gift I did not want to take for granted. I wanted to serve it with purpose, and the only way I could do that was by becoming vulnerable.
It was scary at first to think that I was going to put my story out there, but then I had a thought. One afternoon I said to myself, “if today was my last day on Earth, I would want to leave with a legacy, and if that meant to tell the world about my history, then so let it be.” If my story would help even just one person live, then I was going to share it. This is when I decided to actually start being more public about my battle, and within time, I began to write about it.
I honestly had no idea how much work went into writing a book. Whenever I became discouraged, I tried to remember the light I saw at the end of the tunnel once chemotherapy ended. There were many times I wanted to quit treatment because I could not stand to see and feel myself deteriorate before my eyes. Between the shots I had to give myself in my stomach, the containers of pills I had to take every day, and four-hour-long drips I had to sit through every other week, my mentality was the only thing that got me through. I had no choice but to find the little strength left in me to keep pushing. My fortitude helped me see that we have to go through the dark days to see the light. I had to be my own advocate and inspire myself to persevere. If I could beat death, I could do anything, and so can you.
What I have learned with writing this book is that you can truly achieve whatever you put your mind to. It will take a lot of patience, trust in divine timing, and diligence, but it will be worth it at the end. With any project I get myself involved in, I always follow Stephen Covey’s rule in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — begin with the end in mind. Remember, nothing that is worth doing comes easy. Any challenge is an opportunity that presents itself to you to help you grow and mold your soul so you can become a better human. Everything in life is possible. Just believe in yourself and your dreams.
“There is much more to life than we could ever imagine. We have to trust that our tragedies have meaning and purpose in our lives—that they are meant to mold us into the best version of ourselves.”
Power to Persevere, by Alexa Nicole Cucchiara, is now available on Amazon.