pre-B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor (B-ALL)
Hi, I’m Samantha, and I am a pre-B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor (B-ALL)! I was diagnosed in October 2018, the beginning of my junior year in high school. Before being diagnosed, I missed about a month of school due to being sick. I was misdiagnosed three times before they found out I had B-ALL. When I was diagnosed, the doctors told my parents and me that if it had been undiagnosed for a day or two more, I wouldn’t have woken up, and my parents would’ve found me. I’m so lucky it was found before it was too late. The hardest part about going through chemotherapy in my opinion was losing my hair not once but twice. My junior year of high school ended up being online due to being in the hospital constantly.
On Valentine’s Day 2018, I had a side effect of my treatment that caused me to have stroke symptoms such as no control of my left side, slurred speech, couldn’t walk, and my body moving like I was having seizures on my left side. This side effect only lasted about 24 hours which I am so thankful for. Still, during my junior year, I got to go on my Make-A-Wish trip with my family! I picked going to Disney World, and we all had the best time!
In May 2019, I was out with family and got a really bad headache. I threw up over 56 times on the way to the hospital where I went unresponsive which caused a code. I had an MRI where they found a blood clot on the left side of my brain. After they found the blood clot, they brought me to the operating room to surgically remove it through my groin. I was in the hospital for a month after having that surgery, and I couldn’t tolerate light, sound, or smell, and I was hardly eating and constantly sleeping. My doctors and nurses called me the mystery child; if there was a rare side effect, I got it.
At the start of my senior year of high school, I got to attend in-person classes the first two days before I got sick and was hospitalized. Most of my senior year was online, as well as my junior year. In March of my senior year, COVID-19 occurred. School was out, and classes were not required. I didn’t get my senior prom, and graduation was a month late (grateful I could even attend). The year 2020 was rough, not only for me but everyone.
On February 4, 2021, I got to ring the bell and finally call myself CANCER-FREE! I am 2½ years cancer-free and living my life the best I absolutely can without taking anything for granted. I am so lucky I had an amazing community and support system through my whole 2½ (basically three) years of chemotherapy. I hope every day that I don’t relapse so my family doesn’t have to see me go through that tough experience again.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.