In 2009, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). I was in the fourth grade and immediately began a long hard road of treatment. I underwent 29 months of chemotherapy, numerous hospital stays, tests, and setbacks. In August of 2011, I completed my treatment and was declared cancer-free. That victory was not a complete success, I relapsed in February of 2012. My second battle was even harder than my first one. The cancer was stubborn and was not responding to chemo. In July of 2012, my only option for survival was to become the first person in a clinical trial. This trial was designed specifically for ALL patients preparing to have a bone marrow transplant who were not yet in remission. I was the only person on the trial and it saved my life. I had chemo and 8 radiation treatments the week before my transplant. I had my bone marrow transplant on July 25th, 2012, and was declared cancer-free. This time the cancer was really gone, but the pain and journey were far from over. I had many complications and negative side-effects. Because of these difficulties, I was in the hospital for 66 days in isolation. I was not able to see my sister because she could bring in outside germs. This was again a very tough road, but I fought hard each day. Some days were more difficult than others and sometimes I was not motivated, but I continued to fight and at the end of the 66 days I was able to leave the hospital a survivor. I did have to stay in the Ronald McDonald house for a little while after because I had to stay close to the hospital in case I got a fever or anything happened, and I was in isolation for six months at my house because I had a weak immune system, but my family was now back together.
Having only had homebound school services for my entire eighth-grade year, I had a difficult transition into high school. Slowly, I made new friends and became involved in theatre. My confidence grew and I was a freshman mentor for both junior and senior year, active in my theatre class for all four years of high school, and a part of my high school's Relay for Life Executive Board sophomore, junior and senior year.
I am proud to say that through hard work, last year I graduated with honors from North Gwinnett High School and successfully completed my first year of college this May at Georgia Gwinnett College. Today, I enjoy hiking, volunteering, visiting the beach and Friday pizza and movie nights with my family. As a result of my life experiences, I have decided that I want to become a Child Life Specialist. I believe that my journey through cancer has equipped me to be able to walk alongside children and their families as they fight their own battles against cancer.
Born in San Diego, California on April 1st, 1946. During my youth, many hours were spent enjoying the Beaches of Southern California. Drafted into the Army in 1966, two years were spent in Monterey at Ft. Ord and gave me the incentive to go back to school and get my degree at San Diego State University in Information Technology. During my college days, I worked operating computers from 12:30 at night to 7:30 in the morning while completing a full college schedule. When summer came, I would forego classes and following work, would spend my days sleeping and enjoying the beaches. Following College, I spent the rest of my career in various positions selling high technology leasing and various hardware and software products. At age 57, I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. As Cancer showed up in only 1 of 10 biopsies of my prostate and less than 10%, it was surmised it was restricted to the Prostate. I elected to have a radical Proctectomy and have my Prostate removed 8 days following detection. The result, Cancer free! At age 71, in 2016, I detected a small Cylinder below my left eyebrow. Biopsies and full body scans later it was determined it was Melanoma and was discovered I had four early stage tumors in my Body,. Immunotherapy was the chosen treatment and I was given 4 treatments, 3 weeks apart. End result, following another full body scan, I received the magic words “CANCER FREE.” While I still receive a lesser treatment every month for 2 years just as a precaution in case there is a small undetectable cell(s), the prognosis is I am Cancer free. The miracle of modern advances fighting Cancer have proven amazing results and it is thanks to those who support research through fund raising efforts such as “The Pink Ribbon” the funding has made my success and those of countless others possible.