Royal Oak, MI
I was 24 and otherwise healthy, hiking the Grand Canyon (literally) with friends, when my neck started to hurt and my arm started to swell. By the end of my vacation two days later, I was in so much pain that I could barely turn my head or lift my arm. I returned to Detroit and went straight from the airport to the ER, where, after hours of tests, I learned about a softball-sized tumor in my chest cavity, which was pressing on veins near my heart, causing blood clots in my shoulder, which resulted in the swelling and pain.
After three needle biopsies (with over 25 total samples taken), I was diagnosed with Primary Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma. I shaved my head the day before chemo, and donated my long hair so that another kid experiencing chemo-related hair loss will have a wig. I went through six rounds of chemo, each of which involved a full week in the hospital receiving 24-hour infusions. I stayed busy by walking 3-5 miles a day around the oncology floor and playing Scrabble with my mom.
Finally, on April 4, 2020 (my best friend's birthday), I finished my sixth chemo treatment and got to reunite with my parents, who weren't able to visit during that final round due to COVID-19.
Two months later, I am in remission and beginning to resume my life - getting back to work as an engineer, working out every day to train for my next half marathon, and catching up with friends (from a distance)! I'm looking forward to a day when young people won't need to endure experiences like mine, but until then, I'm working to spread strength and positivity in the face of these challenges!