“You’re a fighter. Look at everything you’ve overcome. Don’t give up now,” is a quote that I read every day so I can remind myself that I am a fighter and I beat cancer more than once.
My cancer journey started in April 2003, when my family pediatric doctor suspected something was wrong and suggested that my mom should take her two-year-old baby to a hospital that specializes in childhood cancer and diseases.
So, my doctor sent my family to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to start my treatment. I was always curious and paying attention to what the nurses and doctors were doing around me.
Going through my treatment, I met my best friend Devan in one of the play areas at the hospital. Devan and I were like brothers. We did everything together like watch movies or TV while we received our treatment in the medicine room.
If one of us got stuck in the hospital Devan or I would find a way to see each other, make each other laugh, and make sure one of us was okay and feeling better. I also remember the memories that I was in the hospital for my birthday and the nurses and doctors would surprise me by singing “Happy Birthday!” They threw confetti everywhere and gave me a Happy Birthday card with signatures from the nurses and doctors and a birthday shirt.
I remember when the treatment slowed me down and made me feel so weak at one point in my cancer journey. In 2005 — the last day of my treatment — my cancer had come back. I had to go through more chemotherapy and radiation to the brain which made my treatment even longer. During my next round of treatment, I made more friends to help me forget about my treatment. Every day was an exciting day because every week the hospital had fun activities such as gamedays and carnivals.
My favorite activity was meeting celebrities. My favorite was meeting First Lady Michelle Obama. Also, during my treatment, I got the chance to travel to Florida and New York to tell my cancer story. It was an amazing and exciting experience for me.
Since I was going through my treatment instead of going to a public school, I was homeschooled from kindergarten through 5th grade. In 2008, I had defeated cancer. I was so happy. It meant that I could go back to public school and play with other kids like a normal child. In school, I made honor rolls, principal lists, and found the love of music.
In 2010, I was starting my 4th grade year of elementary school when my mom got a call from the doctor saying that my cancer had come back again. It meant another round of chemotherapy and this time a bone marrow transplant. It was a huge struggle for me because the chemo and transplant made me so weak and skinny. Also, at that time my best friend Devan lost his battle against cancer.
As time passed, I got my strength back and defeated cancer again for the second round. Once I finished my treatment for the second time, I was cancer-free in 2013 which was a huge accomplishment and blessing. Since then, I have graduated from high school with honors and a class rank 5 out of 122.
I am a sophomore at the University of Memphis and my major is advertising. I am a part of University of Memphis Mighty Sound of The South Marching Band. I have traveled with the football team. My favorite memories with the band are going to the Cotton Bowl and being on College Gameday.
These are experiences that I will never forget. My overall cancer journey was very challenging at first, but with my family and friends and doctors and nurses support it made everything easier. Because of my cancer journey, it helped groom me into the young adult that I am today.