One night in the summer of 2019, I was out for dinner with my friends, and I felt a spiking pain in my chest. After 10 minutes, it went away, but I’d never felt anything like it.
In the weeks after that, I had more chest pains and developed flu-like symptoms. I went to a clinic several times and was prescribed antibiotics. Bloodwork showed I was anemic, but everything else seemed fine, so I went on vacation. I woke up one morning in P.E.I. and was throwing up like crazy, so I came back to Ottawa and went straight to the hospital. They did a full-body CAT scan, and they told me, “You’re not going home.”
I did six cycles of chemo between October 2019 and January 2020. After the third round, I started weightlifting. That was a big moment for me. At my lowest point during treatment, I weighed about 130 pounds. By the end of chemo, I was about 205 pounds, and I was feeling really strong.
In February 2020, I was declared to be in complete remission, so I went back to school. I had been in the last year of my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Ottawa when I was diagnosed. Then, two weeks before my final exams in the summer of 2020, I woke up with excruciating back pain and developed a fever. A CAT scan and an MRI showed tumors pressing against nerves near my spine. The lymphoma was back.
After nine more cycles of chemo, I had a stem-cell transplant in February 2021. Slowly, my blood counts started coming back up, and there were no complications. The nurses, doctors, and staff at the Ottawa General Hospital have been amazing at every step of the way. Each and everyone of them are truly angels.
I’ve been in remission since then. I’m still weightlifting—it’s a huge passion of mine. Also, I finished my undergraduate degree and started my master’s of applied science in mechanical engineering. I’m considering doing a PhD when I finish my master’s.
I wanted to give back to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, so I started a Light the Night event team with my friends. We raised over $11,000. I know it takes me to research new drugs and bring them to market. But I hope that, even 30 years down the line, the money we raised contributes to someone not having to go through what I went through, or some kid’s parents not having to see what my parents saw.