In remembering this impact, and reflecting on all that has happened since then, I continue to reaffirm by belief that things happen for a reason...even things like getting cancer twice.
When I was diagnosed with leukemia for the first time in 1997, and then was given the opportunity to wish for something in 1998 (thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation), I never imagined that my connection to Make-A-Wish would lead me to become part of the most wonderful sorority in the world. Since joining Chi Omega my freshman year, I have been able to take part in efforts to support Make-A-Wish and the children benefitting from it.
When my cancer relapsed shortly after my 13th birthday, I never dreamed that a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society lacrosse tournament fundraiser would connect me with the Duke University Women’s Lacrosse team, and spark my interest in a school that would later become my home.
It’s also thanks to my relapse treatment that I met my oncologist, Dr. Patrick Brown, and was given the opportunity to intern with him my junior year of high school. The best part of that was being on the other side of healthcare for the first time in my life, and solidifying my passion for medicine.
And although my relapse seemed to deprive me of friends at first, while also making me feel so different than my peers, it actually led me to have more good friends than I had ever had before. Thanks to cancer, I have become part of the incredible Camp Sunrise family and a massive family of cancer survivors both in Maryland and across the country. I also have a wonderful group of friends from high school, the people who reached out to me when I first went back to school and continued to light up my life since then.
I also never once thought that my experience with cancer would drive me to start a website of resources, become published in a book about social media use in healthcare, or hone my public speaking skills through being a patient ambassador.
So, with all of that said, my point is not to boast, but rather to show how you can use your cancer experience(s) to enrich your life, rather than just letting it break your life apart. Additionally, I want to use this post as an example of why it is good to look forward to what is ahead. Although life may have initially surprised you with the terrifying obstacle that is cancer treatment, I am fairly certain it holds some really beautiful surprises in store as well. You just have to wait :)