At 16 years old, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma. It was in the middle of the school year. While my friends were getting ready for prom, I was in the hospital fighting for my life. The nausea, hair loss, extreme fatigue and pain often left me physically and mentally exhausted. Despite this, I remained hopeful and confident that I would beat the disease. I learned to appreciate every little bit of progress and every brief period of relief.
Today, I’m in remission and proud of my strength, my resilience and everything I’ve accomplished. The lessons I learned during that time have become part of my daily life. I’m grateful for every healthy day, every moment of happiness I share with my loved ones and every little joy in my life. Cancer can seem unbeatable, but I learned that optimism, determination and the support of those around us—who are fighting with us—can get us through the hardest of times. Even when things are dark, there’s always hope. I’m lucky to be alive today, and I’m determined to make the most of every moment.
Unfortunately, I’ve lost some of my friends to cancer along the way, which has been one of the hardest parts for me. These friends were people I had shared my fears, hopes and dreams for the future with, and to this day I continue to be inspired by their courage and determination. That’s why I believe that cancer research is critical to helping people with this disease. I personally benefitted from a study that reduced the long-term side effects of my treatment, and without research, I may not be here today. Every little bit helps, and every donation makes a difference. By working together, we can make a big difference for people with cancer and give them hope for a better future.