I was 3 Ĺ years old when I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (A.L.L.) on October 31, 1980. My doctor referred my family to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. A few days later, I began oral, IV, and spinal fluid chemotherapy treatments. Four weeks later on December 8, 1980, I went into remission and was placed in one of two groups. The group I was in would receive cranial radiation at lower doses than before, while the other group would receive high doses of IV methotrexate instead of radiation. My group was called the Butterfly group, which became a symbol of New Life to the patients in it and their families, ergo the butterfly on my quilt square below.
Throughout and after the 2 1/2 years of chemo treatment, I continued to live my life as normal as possible--one day at a time--going to school, learning to dance ballet and jazz, to play soccer and the piano and flute, and to just have fun as a child. When Doug (my older brother of two years) and I often played together, it wasn't unusual for my dolls to make a visit to the doctor's office. I entered the A.C.T. (After Completion of Therapy) group in 1988 and was officially discharged from St. Jude Hospital in 1996 as an Alumni.
Although I have experienced other health problems, including a brain tumor that may or may not be related to the cranial radiation treatments I received, there has been no relapse of the leukemia. When you've had Cancer, you are never considered "cured," especially since your life is forever changed by this disease. However, my doctors say I have a 99.9% chance of not getting the Cancer back. On October 31, 2008, I will celebrate 28 years of survival since being first diagnosed with leukemia.
My experience with Cancer has caused me to look at life from a different perspective. I see life as a road to be traveled with a Cancer-free future ahead, and try to live each day to the fullest, thankful to be alive. I am most thankful to God for saving my life so that I may be an example of His Son Jesus to others on this earth. He has given me strength and wisdom to deal with my Cancer and the many ways it has affected and will continue to affect my life. I am also thankful for my parents', brotherís, and extended family's continued support, as well as all of the prayers over the years from family and friends. Their love and encouragement have helped make me who I am today.
For Cancer patients and survivors, I wish you the best. Stay strong and be a fighter. I hope you have the kind of love and support from your family and friends that I do. Good luck with your fight against Cancer, and hang in there. God will always be with you.
This is my square on the St. Jude Quilt of Hope - Panel 19, Square 8 (which is unfortunately no longer available for viewing online). This quilt was created by stitching together squares created in honor of Cancer survivors and in memory of those who have lost their lives to Cancer as patients of St. Jude.