"Inspirational" doesn't really cut it when you're talking about Suleika Jaouad. Her New York Times column and video series, "Life, Interrupted," documents her struggle with stage-four leukemia. Now cancer-free, Jaouad speaks with us about how she managed to defeat her disease with bravery and grace — and found a new sense of self in the process.
How has the way that you express yourself changed? How has your personality changed?
Growing up, I had a certain idea of who I was and what I wanted to look like, but all of that changed when my entire wardrobe dwindled to a hospital gown, and I watched my hair fall out in clumps. Everything from the shoes that I wore to the way that I carried myself changed. I wanted a uniform that made me feel tougher and braver. And suddenly, I found myself wearing leather jackets and shoes with spikes in them and experimenting with all of these different looks and styles that I would never have dared to wear before all of this. Finding creative ways to own how I looked and what I was going through was my way of owning the disease and not letting it own me.