My name is Rylie York, I am 20 years old and I'm currently a sophomore at Baylor University. I'm originally from Round Rock, Texas and I am a patient at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. I was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 18 in the middle of my senior year of high school. I have relapsed twice since then and completed my bone marrow transplant this past August and September.
I’ve officially been in remission since September. Cancer has played a huge role in shaping me into the woman I am today. Throughout my diagnosis I have developed a new understanding of what it means to be brave, and put my trust in a plan that is greater than my own. On the night after I was diagnosed I created a blog: ryesnextchapter.com where I have journaled about my cancer journey from the very beginning.
On the night of the 2 year anniversary of my diagnosis I wrote the words below:
Two years since my world came to screeching halt, things became blurry, and I was asked to put my full and complete trust in a plan that I would not have chosen for myself. 2 years since I climbed out of my car and felt like I wasn’t going to have the strength to walk myself into my house. 2 years since my friends and family surrounded me with an overwhelming amount of support as they simply sat. & listened. & encouraged. They didn’t make it their job to bear my burden because they knew that God would handle that for me. Two years of learning to tell others that having control and giving it away was going to be one of the biggest challenges of my life thus far. Believe me, there have been more times than I can count where I thought that I had things back in my control. I was wrong...2 years of not having hair, or at least the hair that I thought I should have had.
Let me just say, it is not easy being a 20 year old girl who has shaved her head twice. The long stares are present, the confused looks linger awkwardly, and the stages of hair growth are not all that fun. Did I like being bald? Yes, sometimes. Did it get easier as time went along? Yes, for sure. But, my hair was my most favorite thing about myself before I lost it the first time around. 2 years of WORKING ON (I say this because I don’t think I’ll ever have it fully figured out) learning that my outward image is not what defines me. 2 years of telling myself I look good in the mirror way more than telling myself otherwise because there is absolutely no point in speaking negatively toward ourselves when the opinions of the world are already out to get us.
Cancer has taken a lot from me in the last 2 years. It has robbed me of things that I may not even realize I’ve lost until later on in my life. Cancer took my hair. Cancer took my body, for a period of time. Cancer has given everything it had to take my life and yet I’m still here. I am so appreciative of that last statement. I am undeserving of this life, as we all are, and I sit in awe of this heartbreaking plan that I was asked to be a part of.
Two years of learning the definition of the word brave. 2 years of being even more thankful for the life I have been given. I'm here to say that the last two years have prepared me for a lifetime of supporting organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). I support LLS because there are new children, adults, and families that are effected by cancer every day. Each individual deserves to know they have someone in their corner. LLS has played an important role in my life and I am proud to stand with them as they raise awareness to fight against blood cancer.