A year ago today I was sitting in a hospital gown, ready for a hysterectomy that would kick my cancer for good. Even though I’d been public about cancer the two times I’d had it before, this was the first time I was open about it while it was happening. As with other things in my life (like a heart attack at 16), I felt that women like me were under the radar for these types of conditions. I wanted people to know that young women like me were susceptible, that talking about things like hysterectomies weren’t shameful, and that just because I had cancer didn’t mean I was going to die.

Little did I know that it was only the beginning of a journey that would lead me through yet another course of chemo and all the hair loss and side effects that come with it. But sharing the journey also made me realize how far I’ve come. My eighteen-year-old self never would have considered posting photos of her bald head when she faced cancer in college. Cancer is something we can now talk about beyond hushed tones. We can relish the times we feel good, get angry and raise research funds to help beat it, laugh or cry when we need to (sometimes both), and celebrate the milestones.

A year later, I’m still here. And cancer is not.