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 would never 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 offer hope to other cancer survivors and 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 I am especially thankful for this day.
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.