I thought it was 'just another torn meniscus' back in the fall of 2019. The symptoms and signs all seemed too familiar and I just knew I'd have to get my meniscus repaired again, but this time in my left knee. After following through similar protocol in preparation to meet with the orthopedic doctor, upon my doctor's visit I was told my knee could not be further evaluated until deeper investigation by another physician: a musculoskeletal oncologist.
For nearly an entire year, I was back and forth to the Virginia Cancer Specialist Facility. I completed a total of four biopsies, three of which the results came back 'inconclusive' each time. After the fourth biopsy and high speculation, the news was shared that I had a rarer form of non-Hodgkin lymphatic cancer within my femur bone in September of 2020 at the age of 23.
I can honestly say a spirit of anger never overcame me. I possessed this unusual 'peace' with my diagnosis from the beginning. However, I struggled throughout with grasping an understanding of 'why.' I was exercising daily, eating healthily and obtaining from many of the cancer-causing foods and meats, and living an overall well life. I still battle from time-to-time with the 'why' for having had undergone this journey, but it was not until nearly my last treatment when I began to realize that I will never fully receive the answers I've been in deep search for. I had to learn and continue to learn how to be 'okay' not having all the answers.
Since the very beginning of this journey, I set my mind towards having a photo shoot to document not only my survival but 'thrival' (my word version of 'thrive' in the format of 'survival') through this. Lymphoma took and stripped me of nearly everything I thought I had ownership of or controlled. From my hair, to my body weight, to my skin, it was all taken away from me in some manner and there was nothing I could do about it. But the thing that remained in my control throughout and never wavered was my light. Nothing and no one can take away the light that beams constant within me and that shine outwardly from me. I chose light and I chose life. I continue to do so. All of the things I thought I had power over showed themselves even more to not hold value anywhere near to the weight my light holds.
This photo is one of my favorites from my photo shoot. It conveys a message of many words, but one remains consistent: still eye rise. Lymphoma was and continues to be a tough one for me. Despite that, I remain at peace knowing that life has prepared me for this journey and all that it encompasses. Today, I continue to share my story and the wisdom gained from this journey through mentorship to young girls aged 10-14. Through my company, EyeRmbr, I help instill the powerful life lessons I've been equipped with early on so that those young girls may shine their brightest throughout their life and never dim their light for anyone or anything. I recognize that what is arguably one of the darkest times of my 23 year-old life possessed a purpose far larger than myself. So although the 'hard' part of this journey may be over, my story is still unfolding.