Today marks my Golden Cancerversary, I am celebrating my 25th anniversary of being diagnosed with leukemia on the 25th of January. Each year is a milestone, but I have been looking forward to this one for years. I can proudly say I have survived for a quarter of a century!
Even though it was 25 years ago, I can still remember the events that led up to this day and all that followed like it was yesterday. I remember the nurses, doctors and my chaplain who helped me get through my treatments. I remember sitting in the outpatient clinic with my mom every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I remember how scared I was to start high school bald. I remember how I felt when a senior at my high school died of undiagnosed leukemia and a month later how I felt when my mentor died. I remember how scared and excited I was to finish chemotherapy. I remember a good friend coming over with a peach rose to help me celebrate that day. I remember going to cancer camp for the first time and the amazing friendships that were created there. I remember my Special Wish trip to Disney World. I remember running my first half marathon with Team in Training, shaving my head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and riding the Zamboni during Hockey Fights Cancer night. I remember the cancer patient’s I worked with at UNC and all those who passed away due to cancer and what it felt like to have survivors’ guilt. I remember what it felt like to finally feel peace after dealing with depression. Lastly, I remember how lucky and blessed I am.
I recently heard the quote, “You may not end up where you thought you’d be, but you will always end up where you’re meant to be.” I never would have imagined that I would end up being a patient at Children’s Hospital, I didn’t think I would ever hear the words “you have cancer” especially as teenager, but I did. Why? Because God had a plan for me. This may not be the path I would have chosen, but it is the path God chose for me.
This year is special because I will be celebrating by publishing my inspirational biography Faith, Hope & Cancer: The Journey of a Childhood Cancer Survivor, later this year. Writing a book to share my story with the world has always been something I have wanted to do and this year my dreams will become a reality. I truly believe I survived because God’s plan for me was to be able to offer hope to other cancer survivors and to share God’s greatness in life.
Some might say, how is God great? You had cancer. I say God is great because I had cancer. I saw first-hand the power of prayer, I saw miracles happen and lives changed. I try to thank God every day for being alive, but on this day I am especially thankful.
I hope you take time today to thank God for everything He has given you and I hope you never forget to love life, live life and cherish every moment.