“If it weren’t for others helping me conquer my battle with leukemia when I was a young child, I would not be here today. I believe my purpose is to spread light and joy in that environment that is so scary.”
I belong to a very selective, special group. My journey began when I joined on August 5, 2004 at five years old. None of my friends or family wanted me to join. They were distraught. Many tears were shed when I attended their “meetings.” When I changed my mind and begged to not be included, they insisted. The group was powerful, though, and I soon paid my dues and became a member, a warrior. I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. The enemy pierced my veins and muscles, but I was strong. At the very beginning, to be precise, it had claimed 87% of my small body. But I fought back with determination numerous times every single day for two and a half long years. I would not succumb to its force. The enemy dug deep within my bones. It even tried to get inside my spine and brain, just to be even more invasive, insistent and painful. I didn’t back down; however, and conquered the battle. It was at seven and a half, when I was only in second grade, that I then proudly received my title. Every February I thankfully get reinstated with a visit to the oncology department at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit for a checkup. I was diagnosed and beat Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I am a childhood cancer survivor.
So now at nineteen, what does my survivorship mean to me? How do I look back on this terrifying experience of my childhood? Well, it is my choice to embrace it, to acknowledge it completely, learn from it, and use my place in this world to help others. If it weren’t for others helping me conquer my battle with leukemia when I was a young child, I would not be here today. I believe my purpose is to spread light and joy in that environment that is so scary. To use my power, my intelligence, my talents, my history, and my compassion to encourage and assist others to overcome their health obstacles and confront them head on with determination and grace.
I am going to become a Child Life Specialist and assist children who are suffering like I once was. These wonderful women and men at Children’s Hospital, alongside my treasured nurses and doctors, were so amazingly helpful to me and my family. Each time I needed a bone marrow aspiration, each time I needed to withstand something particularly painful, there was a child life specialist there to help ease my distress. My parents took every opportunity for me to attend every possible special event that was put on by these wonderful people, such as “music time” or “art time.” Their special events were truly very cherished by me and always needed a reprieve to help me continue normal childhood experiences when I couldn’t go to school, be at home with my brothers and sister, or simply play. Even with my big bag of chemotherapy attached to me through my port and IV pole, I could continue to be a kid because of them. I could actually be a happy little girl who looks back fondly at her cancer treatment days. Without their special skills, my cancer battle might not have been won.
Since I was three years old, dance has been my escape, the one thing that I could go to whenever I needed release. Nothing could interfere with it, not even my poor health. The freedom and happiness I feel when dancing, sharing, and teaching is something I cherish. I want to help people heal with dance in a way that dance helped restore my health. I hope to someday work with dance therapy and learn how it can be implemented in hospitals to provide a physical stress outlet for patients to have something to look forward to and enjoy. While dancing, children can escape that fear and transform themselves. I hope to inspire others with my enthusiasm for dance and bring that outlet to young children who spend enormous time within hospital walls.
I am so lucky to have the love and support that I have from the people in my life. I want to help others deal with health obstacles safely, comfortably, and to fulfill their individual destinies. Accomplishing these goals would bring me great happiness.
If you would like to help Sarah and other children battling cancer, donate today!