When I was a senior in high school, my friends and I went to Six Flags during our April vacation. Soon after, I started experiencing what I would realize were symptoms of my diagnosis. After many tests and a blurry week in the ICU, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). That day I started what would become a two-and-a half-year journey of chemotherapy treatments.
At the start, both of my parents were working full-time to support my brother and me as we finished high school and looked into college. My mom worked as a Customer Service Manager at a grocery store, not too far away from the hospital. My dad was self-employed, landscaping and doing other jobs for several long-term customers. When I got sick, he stopped working so he could stay with me in the hospital while my mom worked overtime to make ends meet. Although my parents hid their emotions from me, I knew they were stressed and very worried about how they were going to keep making a living while I was getting chemotherapy.
I received treatment at The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. For the first two or three months of my treatment, I was inpatient in the pediatric bone marrow transplant unit. From there I moved mainly to the outpatient clinic where I received chemo multiple times a week. Of course, there were some bumps in the road along the way. I contracted pneumonia twice, once in the beginning of my treatment and again towards the end. I also ended up being allergic to one type of chemotherapy and had to get a different form of it every other day for a few months.
The road ahead
My cancer journey helped me finally decide what I want to do with my future. All of the nurses that cared for me became my inspiration to go back to school, after taking a year off, to become a nurse. A lot of my experiences in the hospital were very interesting to me; seeing and hearing the doctors, nurses and everyone else involved interact really caught my attention. Even though I didn’t completely understand everything they were saying or why they would do certain things, it made me want to learn more. Most importantly, however, I wanted to do for others what they did for me; give patients the same kindness and care that got me through this hard time in my life. My goal is to become a registered nurse and work with pediatric oncology patients.
I am 22 years old and have been cancer free for more than two years now. I attend Rhode Island College and am waiting to start nursing classes while also working part-time. When I am not at work or studying, I enjoy riding my horse, Anita. My cancer journey was a long and trying time in my life, but if none of it happened I would not be where I am or who I am today.