acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
Hesperia, CA United States
I am an awardee of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Scholarship for Blood Cancer Survivors. I currently hold an associate’s degree in science and am pursuing my bachelor's degree in biology at California State University, San Bernardino, (CSUSB). I am very grateful to be granted this scholarship to help pay for my tuition. In fact, this is the first scholarship I have ever been awarded during my education. These funds are a big stress reliever as it has provided me with the ability to avoid taking out a loan for school and given me peace of mind.
I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when I was six years old. The diagnosis was a shock to my family. I was six when my family received the news after taking me in for suspicion of the flu. News of cancer was the last thing on my parents’ minds. My mother, an ER nurse, collapsed when she heard the news as she knew the possible outcome. The positives definitely outweigh the negative. Negatives include the long-term side effects of chemotherapy and its effects on hormones. The biggest positive outcome is how it affected the relationship between my father and me. This experience has brought us very close together. Spending day and night together at the hospital was just the beginning. After losing all of my hair, I was devastated. My father knew that I was embarrassed, and so he joined me and shaved all of his hair off too; this helped my spirit. We would do various activities together at the hospital. We would sit outside of the waiting room before getting admitted and try to guess the passcode to get into the back room where the nurses were. Eventually, we guessed the code as they set it to the zip code. Our ability to guess the code showed how often we were there. It became a routine for me to hold his thumb during any procedure since I was very scared. His thumb is what I held because my 6-year-old hands were very small. I vividly remember the fear and amount of anxiety I had if the nurses ever tried to stick me if my dad was not around. They quickly learned that I could not be alone. It took many years to get over the fear of being alone during a procedure. My mother would often bring me my favorite homecooked meals after she would get off of work. This was huge for me since I was always hungry, and the medication I was on made me have insane cravings. I could go on and on about my hospital experiences.
Fast forward to current times, and the positives are still affecting me. The past that I experienced has made me want to pursue a career in medicine and help those who have been so kind to help me. I have witnessed the unfortunate passing of friends who had this disease during my stay at Loma Linda, and it breaks my heart. I need to help those in need. I learned how to cherish the good times and forget about the negatives. We can sit and dwell on the past but realize things can be much, much worse, like sitting in a hospital bed for three weeks at a time, not being allowed to have friends visit because of your compromised immune system, and the many restrictions because of the dangers. This journey has ultimately guided me towards my desired future in helping people beat any undesired diagnoses and continue to their bright futures.