When I was a 15-year-old freshman in high school, I was diagnosed with stage three, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I still vividly remember the words “you have cancer” repeating constantly through my mind. I had to undergo four rounds of intense chemotherapy. It was an overwhelming experience to be surrounded by so many sick children who were younger than me. It was terrifying to know that these little kids were going through chemotherapy when some were not even old enough to talk or go to school. Although it was a rough time for me, I knew that these other kids around me probably had it worse.
While I was going through my treatment, I was offered the chance to have a Wish granted by Make-A-Wish. I saw Make-A-Wish as just an organization granting wishes to young children, and thus, I was reluctant to have my own Wish. However, my family urged me to take the opportunity, and my Wish to go to London was fulfilled. The trip gave me something to look forward to while I was receiving chemo. For once, something actually gave me hope during my treatment. I finally understood the true power of a Wish and the impact it had on not only me, but on my whole family, especially my younger sister.
After I was declared in remission, I immediately wanted to start giving back and begin helping others who were undergoing things that I had gone through before. To this day, I am passionate about volunteering for pediatric cancer organizations, and helping others gives me tremendous joy. Speaking about my story helped me accept my diagnosis and allowed me to move on from a difficult time in my life; it gave me the strength I needed. Throughout high school, I made it my mission to volunteer as much as I could. I became an active volunteer and ambassador at Make-A-Wish of Southern Nevada. I spoke at events about my Wish, worked in the office and even got the chance to speak one-on-one to other pediatric cancer patients. I also got my school involved when I was the Honored Hero for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I organized a blanket drive, got my high school to write letters to kids in the hospital and gathered people for the Light the Night Walk. It brings more purpose to my life to help others and it really gives me perspective about how grateful I am for my health. One day, I hope to see a cure for cancer, but right now, I will still make it my mission to support pediatric cancer patients in my own community and help them through their journey as best I can.