Don’t throw in the towel

I was 21. I was a senior at UCF and a track and field athlete when I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) with a positive Philadelphia chromosome. I went through intensive chemotherapy without a bone marrow transplant the first time around.

Doctors tell you that, after 5 years of no sign of disease, you’re in the clear. I was re-diagnosed two days before reaching my 5-year anniversary of remission. It was tough. I was 26 years old, just getting back on my feet from treatment, starting a job and getting back into shape. I was actually an assistant for the Livestrong program for cancer patients at the my local YMCA.

Left: Having my bone marrow transplant / Right: being silly 2 years post-transplant

This time around I went through intensive chemotherapy again and then I went for a bone marrow transplant in August. I got my bone marrow donor from the Be My Match bone marrow registry. She was a 100% match to me. I hope to meet her one day!

Many ask how cancer impacted my daily life. I would always say that it made me so much closer to God, and what is really important in my life. I definitely would say it made me face my fears and to not be scared. I’m not saying I wasn’t scared because I was! I didn’t like how I felt a lot of the times, but I prayed a lot and kept telling myself this is only temporary.

The advice I would give to people facing a cancer diagnosis and treatment is: don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, it’s not the time to feel sorry for yourself. When you’re down on your knees, that’s the best time to worship God. I know it sounds crazy, but I went from down to my knees to flat on my face believing and actually seeing my healing before it even happened. I spoke it into the atmosphere, “I walk by faith not by sight.” I had made up in my mind I wasn’t going to leave this earth like this. Also, I tried to keep active physically as much as I could even when I didn’t feel like moving. To me, Livestrong means to be strong, brave, honest, loving, and having the ability to conquer your fears — or at least face them. If you fail, it’s just the process. Keep trying… it’s better to try than to not have tried at all. If you knock on the door long enough, someone will answer.

Amanda, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia survivor

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Don’t throw in the towel was originally published in Livestrong Voices on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.