A silhouette of a superhero stands behind a hospital curtain

How Comic Book Heroes Saved Me Through My Cancer Treatments

Superheroes are great, aren’t they? With their flashy costumes and exciting story arcs, most of us love to read or watch Superheroes. I never thought one would help me with my battle through cancer.

Some backstory

I had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and large B-cell lymphoma off and on for 5 years. We found it when I was 22 and finally went into remission (I think, I have a scan this month fingers crossed!) at age 27.

I’ve been an avid Batman fan since I was about 16 years old. I eventually got into cosplay. Cosplay is where you dress up as your favorite character or person from a tv show, movie, video game, etc. and essentially role play as them. It’s usually done at conventions but it’s become more mainstream and now it can be seen just about anywhere if you’re lucky enough. I really resonated with Batgirl, and started cosplaying her. I felt very connected to her character. Her strength, always wanting to do the right thing, never giving up, looking freaking amazing in tights and go-go boots, those were all qualities I wanted. I soon actually grew a following of fans who enjoyed my interpretation of her. I’d wear the outfit to my local cons and try to stay in character. People loved it and so did I. I felt so confident after donning the costume. Especially the cowl, I could hide in plain sight and no one would be the wiser. I had a lot of fun confusing my friends that way.

Katelynn dressed as Batgirl

My story arc

Fast forward to last year. I had already had radiation, infusions, some surgeries and the cancer was still inside me. So the next step was chemo and more radiation. It was not a fun period for me, I became depressed and was in a lot of pain. My friends would always tell me that I was Batgirl and I could beat it. I scoffed and rolled my eyes, I knew they meant well, but I didn’t go out every night punching clowns in the face.

I was nowhere near Batgirl, I just played the part. But then I thought about it. Why couldn’t I be Batgirl? I mean not REALLY but, in the sense of sharing her qualities and using that strength I had always admired. I started to try to think like her. “Ok, yes I’m in pain right now. But it won’t last, I just have to wait it out. It will get better. You can do this. You’re Batgirl.” And you know what? It actually worked.

Mind over matter

Another example was during my radiation therapy. I am very claustrophobic and every time I had to wear the mask, all of my energy was spent trying to not go into a full-blown panic attack. I would pretend I was Batgirl, and Batman was standing right beside me watching for any sneaky suspicious activity and would protect me if anything went wrong.

Now, I know this all might sound a little cray-cray. Let me assure you I know where the line is between fiction and reality LOL. But I had to cope in some way, and through my love of Superheroes it seemed like a good option, and it really was for me.(I think the actor side of me also enjoyed it.) Just pretending they were there for me and believed in me made ME believe in myself. If I could solve The Riddler’s riddles or fight The Penguin then I could go through my rounds of chemo, and finish my radiation.

What about you? Do you share any qualities with any heroes? More importantly, are you team Marvel or DC?

Warm wishes, Katelynn

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.