Hello, my name is Aryan. I am 13 years old. I was almost five years old when I first got diagnosed with cancer. It started as a normal summer like always, and we were planning to go somewhere. My dad was always traveling because of work, so it was just me and my mom. I would mostly spend time at my grandparents’ house because I could play games with them. One day my dad saw a bump on the back of my head, and our pediatrician told us that it was a lymph node. My pediatric doctor told my parents that it's normal, part of recovery from a fever or cough and to monitor it. Soon after that incident, it got worse. I got a bigger lymph node under my chin and made an appointment to get it checked with my grandparents.
My mom was on her way to a work event, and my dad had just reached the airport on the day of my doctor's visit. It was 7:00 p.m., and my mom was just about to reach her event when she got a call from my doctor. He told her that I was still at the hospital getting some tests done and urged my parents to come home and wait for a call from Kaiser Hospital in Oakland to see what’s next. That night around 8:00 p.m. my parents got a call from Kaiser Oakland Hospital to urgently admit me to the hospital and that some more tests needed to be done. And it wasn’t good news; it could mean I had any variant of cancer. We needed more tests done the next day.
It was June 1, 2013, when my parents got the bad news that I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). I spent the first seven days at Kaiser Oakland getting many tests done, multiple rounds of blood work, my first broviac line surgery, and an extremely painful bone marrow aspiration. I remember that I was unable to walk for some time because of the spinal tap. During my stay, I had a service dog named Sadie visit me who helped me feel better on the bad days. When I was discharged to go home, I knew I would continue the chemotherapy treatment and have uncountable visits to the hospital for another nine months to complete my trial and treatment. The Butterfly Room (Operation Room) wasn’t that bad. The anesthesia they gave me was very helpful. I did not like taking medicines because I was taking up to 15 pills a week. The pills were very toxic and could give people cancer, so it was very risky. But it helped cure my cancer. My school life was very ordinary; no one knew about my cancer because I was a very introverted kid. I was going to a very academic school while going through my treatment and maintenance. Some days I would go straight to the clinic right after school and do my homework there. It was a routine for a couple of years.
While I was going through the most difficult phase of my life, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) helped me overcome some of those difficult memories. I remember in 2016 going to San Francisco with my mom, talking to people about my cancer, raising donations for the Light The Night walks with my family, and raising awareness about pediatric cancer. I also remember being on television and being interviewed by Spencer Christian with my dog Falcon in one of our walks. My best memories are walking inside the AT&T Ball Park numerous times, marching with my banner, “#TeamAryan,” with my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, my cousin, and my baby sister.
I am now cancer-free and visit my hospital once a year. I also do my bloodwork once a year. It’s great to lead a normal life, having fun and going out with my friends. I have been in remission for the last five years, and I am thankful for the opportunities and resources LLS has given me and my family. I beat cancer!