Prior to my diagnosis, in December of 2019, I had been working in clinical research and was enrolled in a Biomedical Science Masters program with hopes of continuing on to medical school and becoming a physician. However, my career aspirations were placed on hold when I received my diagnosis. Immediately, my dedicated student lifestyle turned into that of a full-time patient.
For the next six months, I underwent numerous bone marrow biopsies, doses of chemotherapy, lumbar punctures, and radiation treatments. I took countless pills, received multiple blood transfusions and electrolyte infusions, spent birthdays and holidays in my 320 square foot hospital room, and lost my hair… twice.
Yet, through it all, I was constantly surrounded by the incredible support of my faith, family, and friends. Undergoing cancer treatment during the peak of COVID-19 in the Spring of 2020 often meant attending hospital visits and stays alone. Nevertheless, what at first seemed to be an isolating experience was quite the opposite when I also formed long-lasting bonds with my doctors, nurses, and technicians.
On July 28th, 2020, I reached the light at the end of the tunnel and underwent a bone marrow transplant. Fortunately for me, my younger sister, Sophia, who was my 100% stem cell match, agreed to be my donor. Besides the expected side effects of recovery, everything went smoothly.
Upon taking the time to recover and return to my “new normal,” I was propelled to use the lessons I had learned during my cancer journey in order to advocate for others who face similar battles.
Exactly a year after my transplant on July 28th, 2021, I collaborated with Sophia and published a children’s book titled Bye, Bye, Bad Blood. Bye Bye, Bad Blood is a creative children’s tale which aims to teach young cancer patients about their diagnosis in hopes to prepare them for what is to come.
I look forward to a lifetime of remission and supporting cancer fighters and survivors in any way that I can.
By: Kassandra Nealon