In January 2020, I was a 21-year-old full-time pre-medical student diagnosed with Stage 2E Nodular Sclerosis Classical Hodgkin lymphoma, about three weeks after getting engaged to the love of my life and primary caregiver, Alex. We put our entire lives on hold to begin this battle, but we had a huge support network that cheered us on with the slogan, "Let's Get Excited." I was treated for my cancer at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, where Dr. Jessica Snider & Dr. Kimberly Creach successfully cured my cancer.
The tenacity and positivity never stopped, and where the pandemic closed so many doors, we saw them as opportunities to conquer. We used this time to heal, and thanks to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), I received their support services, financial assistance for COVID-19 relief and I had a moment to really focus on rehabilitating during treatment. I have spent the last 12 months undergoing 6 rounds of ABVD chemotherapy, and 20 targeted radiation therapy treatments. There were certainly days where I didn't want to continue, but "getting excited" seemed to be the only thing I knew how to do. I searched for the days where "remission" was a word I used casually. I managed to continue with school and made the Dean's list in Fall 2020 at Missouri State University for Psychological & Biomedical Sciences. I have dreams of becoming a therapist, and after this journey, I want to specialize with folks suffering from chronic illnesses like cancer in pain management therapy.
However, after a few months of resistant cancerous activity post-treatment, the financial toll of medical debt began to affect my fiance Alex & I's lives, so my bridesmaids decided to start a GoFundMe for our financial security. I was willing to create one with one stipulation: any and all funds not exhausted toward medical treatment would go to the organization that helped me the most, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Over the course of these last two months, bloodwork allowed me to have one final PET scan before determining treatment and to all of our surprise, all cancerous activity had ceased, and I am now officially in remission. I could not be more grateful for this gift this holiday season, and I'm even happier to pass the gift of my support network forward to other patients that need help fighting this relentless battle with this disease. I contacted each and every donor on my list and every one of them advocated for their donation to be paid forward to help other fighters in my very situation.
On behalf of my friends, family, coworkers, teachers, and even more, I am so honored to be able to give back to an organization that has done so much for me. My support network was predicated on the most positive perspectives, and I am now getting to live a long and happy life thanks to the many that paved this way for me. Thank you, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, for your unwavering support for lymphoma patients (& now a survivor!) like me.
As my support group always chants, Let's Get Excited!