In October 2016, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia after routine prenatal lab work. I had no symptoms other than palpitations at times, followed by some shortness of breath. We had planned for this pregnancy and had been trying to decide on a way to share the news with our family. Instead, our happy moment was followed by the horrible news of my diagnosis.
My husband and I decided to continue my pregnancy. Knowing that treatment could cause infertility, along with our own personal beliefs, we wanted our baby regardless of whatever was in our future. Since I was considered a high-risk pregnancy, I had to travel to a hospital four hours away from our home. I spent days, weeks and sometimes months in the hospital, all while my husband commuted back and forth weekly to continue working.
Looking back, it’s crazy to think that there once was a point where simple things like a walk around the block became impossible for me. I worked in the medical field for years caring for others and now here I was, on the opposite end, being cared for by so many wonderful nurses and providers. At least a dozen different chemo drugs, countless lumbar punctures, injections, bone marrow biopsies and even a stem cell transplant – all without sedation or pain medications because I chose not to expose my baby to any more poison than I already was.
Here I am, more than one year later, with a beautiful baby girl. I still struggle with some of the side effects from treatment, things I never had to worry about before, and that’s OK. I’m alive, but most importantly, my daughter is alive, and that’s all that matters. I’ll never be the person that I once was, but I’ve accepted my new “normal.” I always tell people, I’m not sure how, but things could always be worse. Each day is a reminder of just how precious and fleeting life is, and how lucky and blessed I am to still be alive. Never in a million years would I have thought things would be this way.
I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful family, an AMAZING husband, a beautiful daughter, and great friends. It humbles me and I am so grateful for each and everyone one of them. Especially my fellow survivors that I have befriended and found since my diagnosis. Life is a gift that often gets taken for granted. It’s never perfect, but we can’t expect it to be. I have always believed in making the most out of life and am inspired more than ever to live my life to the fullest! For those of you facing a life challenge, you are so much stronger than you think. Believe in yourself, have faith. You can do this.