I am 21 years old and I have been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia since the age of four.
My life has been directly affected by the same Leukemia many times; striking me at the age of four, thirteen and most recently nineteen. As each relapse occurred, the experience became more and more serious: psychologically as well as physically. Not only did I understand the severity of the situation more as I grew up, but because it was the same cancer that had returned each time, my chances of success decreased, and the types of treatment intensified.
In-between each diagnosis, I had returned to a normal life for a substantial amount of time. This allowed me to rejoin my favourite sports, go back to school, and live a normal life. I was happy and felt as though my family and I were past it all.
However, in September of 2013, another shock hit our family; my father was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. My dad was a strong and inspirational man who was forced to undergo 11 months of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant. He fought a courageous battle, but unfortunately his cancer aggressively returned twice, the second time being too strong which led to his passing in August of 2014.
Three months after his passing, my second relapse and third battle against cancer started at the age of nineteen. With a minimal amount of time to grieve over my father’s passing, my family and I were forced right back into an all too familiar lifestyle.
Today, I happily write this to you after having received my stem cell transplant over 16 months ago, and everything is going well.
Over the course of the past 16 years, I can assure you that there have been many scientific advancements in the way leukemia patients, along with other cancer patients, are treated. The success rate of my type of cancer has increased; new discoveries dealing with medications have been made and doctors now have new angles that are at their disposal to attack the illness.
None of this could have been realized without research, and as we all know research can not be accomplished without the proper funding.
As a patient, I have felt many different emotions while going through treatments, and one of those reoccurring emotions is hope. It is sometimes all I had. The hope that I would get through the night; the hope that I would not get too many dangerous complications from the chemotherapy or radiation, and above all, the hope that one day we will find a cure.
So when you donate to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, let me say thank you. Thank you for allowing these new discoveries to continue to be made, but more importantly, thank you for giving us hope.