acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
In May of 2021, I graduated from UT Austin with degrees in Neuroscience and Plan II Honors. In August, I moved to Houston to teach high school biology. By October, I had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It turned my life upside down. I went from complete independence and fulfillment to living in a world I never thought I would have to experience ― one that consists of never-ending hospital visits, blood draws, transfusions, bone marrow biopsies, spinal taps, and completely unfamiliar and debilitating health complications at every turn. To put it simply, I can honestly say it’s been the hardest, most terrifying five months of my life, physically and mentally, and I often found myself feeling completely powerless.
But along the way, with every little victory, I gained some of my power back, from completing my first round of chemo to fighting off my first infection, to my first official confirmation of remission, to being able to walk again after a severe bowel obstruction and seizures, to gaining back enough strength to start working out, and even to finally starting to feel beautiful again even without hair. February 4, 2022, marked the end of my last cycle of chemo, and even though it wasn’t my last day of treatment altogether and I still have a long road ahead of me, my loved ones and I celebrated that victory to its fullest!!
I spent a long time contemplating whether or not to share my story, but in the end, I decided to. The response was overwhelming and so filled with light and love, but the most special were the messages I received from other blood cancer patients and survivors who had gone through similar experiences. It was these messages that gave me the most strength, and I hope I’m able to have that effect on others as well.
I’ve always been interested in medicine, but my experiences over the past few months have only reinforced that drive. After teaching, I hope to enter the medical field and instill patients with the same sense of courage and hope that was instilled in me.
To those also fighting blood cancer, even though it feels like it sometimes, you are not your disease! You are the culmination of every hardship you’ve overcome and every single little victory you’ve been able to celebrate as a result. #cancersucks, but we keep fighting. <3