acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
In March 2022, I began experiencing unusual symptoms of fatigue, nausea, persistent infections, and bloody noses and gums, but I didn’t think much of it. Following a lucky-timed appointment with my primary care doctor and multiple blood tests, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Cancer isn’t something an otherwise “healthy” 27-year-old thinks will come out of a doctor’s mouth.
Just hours after I first heard the “c-word,” I was admitted inpatient to a cancer center, and just two days later, I began chemotherapy. My initial treatment plan consisted of eight rounds of high-intensity chemotherapy, 12 intrathecal chemotherapy lumbar punctures, oral targeted therapy, and further down the line a stem cell transplant. The chemotherapy rounds dragged on, they were severe, brutal, and isolating.
Following three rounds of chemotherapy, I was determined that there had to be another way and sought out a second opinion. Thanks to the dedication of some amazing, daring medical professionals and funding from organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) that allow for advanced trials, I was offered an immunotherapy treatment that was not available for patients in my same position years prior. This immunotherapy is changing how ALL is being treated and completely changed the trajectory of my treatment and life.
This immunotherapy allowed me to avoid further rounds of chemotherapy, avoid a stem cell transplant, and most importantly, got me into remission! In December 2022, I completed all active treatment which included three rounds of high-intensity chemotherapy, seven rounds of immunotherapy, and 12 intrathecal chemotherapy lumbar punctures. While I will continue to take oral-targeted therapy for years to come, I am forever thankful for the life that medical advancements have offered me.
Just 10 months after I completed active treatment, I was able to race in the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon with Team In Training (TNT) in support of LLS. This event not only allowed me to raise funds for an organization near and dear to my heart but also allowed me to take back the control over my body that cancer stole. Every mile I ran and every dollar raised was for those still fighting.
Throughout my cancer journey, LLS has been a crucial resource for me, and I have seen firsthand how TNT has assisted in funding LLS programs, including research and trials like the one in which I took part. It takes a village to beat cancer, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of my friends, family, and LLS.