Why did you decide to come speak at FSU about your experience?
I actually volunteered to speak out about my experiences with cancer because a friend had asked me two years ago to speak at another Relay for Life. She told me that in high school, I had such a huge impact on her even though we didn’t talk that much. She said knowing what I was going through every day and still managing to graduate high school inspired her. I figured that maybe I could do that again. That I could share my story with some people from FSU, and hopefully inspire them and let them know that even if life is rough, which it is for everyone, that you can still make it through whatever it throws at you and hopefully do it with some style.
How has your experience with cancer made attending FSU unique?
Originally, I didn’t think I’d ever make it to college. The cancer kind of ate up a lot of my time, making school a second priority. I didn’t do too well, so just getting to attend any college was an exciting thought. At FSU, things were easier than high school because everything was right there. I didn’t have to go anywhere, and getting around was easier. People often noticed my limp because, let’s face it, it’s obvious, but people don’t really realize just how much effort goes into walking when you’re in my position. Every move is a conscious thought. If I don’t think about it or watch where my feet are going, I’ll fall. That was honestly the only struggle I faced in college, just trying to explain that I’m OK and trying to improve myself, so that issue wasn’t as much of one.
What’s something that students might not know about you?
I did make a lot of strides physically. I went to the gym almost every day and really tried to improve my walking. One of the biggest achievements I made at FSU in terms of my physical limitations is that I started to be able to run again. Not fast or far, but I can actually run. But in terms of other goals, I’m just glad that I was able to graduate college without having to really deal with my cancer. I had been in remission the whole time, which is incredible.
Did you participate in Relay for Life?
I did take a couple of laps but unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay. However, I do think that Kaylee [Brazell] and the entire staff of the event did a great job organizing and the turnout was wonderful. It really was a great event and I encourage everyone to at least look into it for next year because it really is a great event to get involved in.
Where do you work now and what do you do?
I work at AdCare Hospital in Worcester as an admissions coordinator.
Does that have anything to do with your experience fighting cancer?
Not really. It was just something to do in the medical field because I do work for a hospital. I am, however, going back to school to take biology courses so that I can apply to med school in the fall of 2018 and hopefully specialize in neurology.
What is your advice to FSU students?
My advice is never be too hard on yourself. As cliché as it sounds, life is short and at any moment, it can be gone. So don’t beat yourself up about the little things, or even the big things, because you’ll get through it one way or another. Finals, papers, exams, relationship issues – all that stuff works out in the end, and none of that is going to kill you, so don’t let it stress you!