There are points in life that force us to grow up fast. For Erin, getting cancer as a child, and going through the hardships that followed, served as a testament to her strength as she continues to triumph over what comes her way. Read more about her experience below.
At the age of 10 years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It was the worst experience of my life. Was this life handing me a batch of lemons? It started with me getting really sick, throwing up, and getting headaches. My mother thought it was a fever, so she took me to the doctor to make sure. I remember when the doctor walked back in the room and told her I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia- all she could do was cry. My first chemo treatment was okay in terms of pain, but it scared me because I did not understand what was happening or why I felt nauseous and tired. I was unable to play with my friends and I could never keep up or go to birthday parties because I was always so sick.
Fortunately, I entered remission after two long years. The road to recovery was extremely exciting for me. I was so happy that I could finally start the process of growing my hair back, seeing my friends, going back to school, and being able to live a normal life, but going back to school with no hair was very difficult. My friends did not want to play with me anymore or hang out because I was teased by others for being bald. I felt so ugly that I would keep on a hoodie, never take pictures, or beg my mother to stay home.
But then I was handed life's second batch of lemons: sexual abuse at the age of twelve. Beginning from the age of 12 until I was 15, I was molested by a member at my church which led to depression and attempted suicide. Although I was in remission, I was still getting sick from time to time. Dealing with my healing process from leukemia and sexual abuse at the same time was extremely difficult.
Fortunately, that experience ended at the age of 15. But then, when I turned 17, we lost our house and became homeless. My parents had to take out loans to pay my medical bills and other everyday expenses. I come from a family of 11 siblings - taking care of one kid with autism, one with leukemia, and nine others was not easy at all.
But moving allowed me to get away from my molester and start a new life. I was now in complete remission and I was able to focus on school more. I graduated from high school with honors and a 4.1 GPA and now my next stop is college. My dream school is Howard University. Not only am I trying to save money for college but I am also trying to pay off medical expenses as well. Seeing my parents starve and sell off their electronics and jewelry just in order to feed, clothe, and take care of me and my siblings is my motivation.
I have been through a lot in life. I am a fighter but most importantly I am a survivor. I will go to my dream school no matter what. And if life decides to throw any more lemons at me, I'll be ready to fire back with a lemonade stand.
Are you an adult survivor of childhood cancer? If so, how did you cope? Share in the comments below.