This last month has been quite eventful.
While so much is happening in the world and in our country, much has happened with my health as well. After completing my 35th round of chemotherapy at Arkansas Children’s, my teams in both Arkansas and Tennessee collaborated together to determine that it would be in my best interest to stop chemo. We had anticipated doing chemo until June, but my body was growing slow to recover. The last year-and-a-half has been a constant battle of balancing enough chemo to keep the leukemia away but not so much that my body is impacted negatively. My doctors have put a great amount of thought into the perfect balance and I am trusting in them as I transition back into life without treatment.
This is not my first time stopping treatment, but I am hopeful that it is the last. We will continue to do many tests regularly to assure that my body remains in remission, both from the Ewing’s sarcoma and the leukemia. Before stopping treatment, my doctors wanted to do a bone marrow biopsy to confirm there was no leukemia and that my marrow remained 100% donor post-transplant. Both of these results came back great! I am proud to say that I remain in remission. We will continue to monitor my remission status by doing labs monthly and bone marrow biopsies every three months. Concurrently, I have scans to monitor my remission for Ewing’s sarcoma every six months, as well as a multitude of tests in between to monitor the function of my organs post-treatment.
There is a sense of ambivalence with stopping treatment. While I am happy and relieved to no longer have to take chemo and all of the side effects and struggles that are paired with it, I have also lost the sense of security that it provides. We now have to hope and pray that the treatment I did is enough to keep the cancer away forever. No matter what though, I know that God has a plan for my life. I will be eternally grateful to Him for blessing me with a supportive community, strong family, compassionate doctors, and two selfless donors. This might have been my fight, but I have not done it alone.
There is no way when I received my initial diagnosis at 17 that I ever could have predicted the journey I was embarking on. This journey is still not over, but I am looking forward to the next chapter. As I continue to endure a plethora of medical tests for the rest of my life, my hope is that I am able to spread the word of the bone marrow registry. Without the registry, I would not have found my two donors, and I know I would not be here today. Joining is easy. All you have to do is sign up online and swab your cheek. If you are healthy and able, please join, and if you are fighting the unbearable, stay strong and positive. These are words that my grandfather has encouraged me with for nearly half a decade of fighting, and I am taking them with me as I move forward in life.