On this day, exactly 10 years ago, my life changed forever. I was an excited high school junior, completely immersed in school, work, field hockey, clubs and friends…. until we got confirmation that something was terribly wrong.
A bump on my scalp was removed, assumed to be a non-malignant cyst. The cells were then analyzed and then sent to a hospital in Boston to be reviewed.
And on January 31, 2000, we were told the “cyst” was actually non-hodgkins lymphoma.
Of course when you’re 16 years old, this news, although devastating, is completely overwhelming, and I chose not to know the details of what was actually going on. I underwent one protocol year of chemotherapy as if it was just a part of life. Afterwards, things just continued as if nothing was wrong. I never really talked about it or brought it up in conversation.
I am extremely grateful to the doctors and nurses over at Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund clinic who worked so hard to save my life. Even if I didn’t realize it at the time. I think in my head, at 16 years old, I felt invincible. I understand now the severity of cancer, and how fragile life can be.
It wasn’t until recently that I became curious about what exactly cancer was and how it worked. I suddenly became really anxious to learn about the cocktail of drugs I had be given, and how the battle against the disease was fought…and eventually won.
I had my whole file faxed to me, and I spent hours scouring it, reading every detail, completely amazed at all of it.
There were so many things going on that I was unaware of. Words like mitochondria, cytoplasm and nuclei brought me back to High School biology class. It was crazy to be reading it, knowing those were my cells they were talking about.
A year later, we got the best news you can get:
It really is thanks to the doctors, nurses and researchers who dedicate their lives to finding a cure for cancer. I am so lucky to have my health back, and I will never take that for-granted. When I go out for a run, I can feel the air rush into my lungs (at one point during treatment, I was functioning at 25% lung capacity), I can feel my legs pounding the pavement, and I feel like I have been given such a gift.
I am running the Boston Marathon for all those people who can’t. For the ones who are still bravely fighting with strength and courage, and for my friends who passed before the cure could be found.
I will be so proud to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon in that Dana-Farber shirt. Thank you to all of you who have supported me in this amazing journey. It is definitely making a difference.
Join me in celebrating 10-years of cancer remission, and help us continue the fight against cancer. Click here to donate to my personal fundraising page.
Kel, I love you and am so thankful that you are healthy!
Thanks for sharing your story. I definitely got a little teary-eyed too. You are such a strong girl and you inspire me to pack the most into life every day like you always do. You’re my hero and I feel so lucky to know you!!!! xoxo
Congrats!!! You are so strong!! I love you so much!!
This was so touching, it made me teary-eyed! I cannot believe it has been ten years already, but I am so grateful that you are better and beat it! I can’t imagine my life without you in it!