Lex is a cancer survivor who had very low chances of surviving, yet she’s here today sharing her story and living cancer free!!
At what age where you diagnosed with cancer?
20. I found out during my finals week in college and I don’t think I’ll ever have to be so stressed about finals again!
At what age were you cleared of cancer?
Can you describe how you felt in that moment?
I was really worried for my parents & my friends and how I was supposed to tell them that I was in this unexpected situation. I also remember my goal was to go back to the beach. The beach is my absolute favorite and I remember thinking to myself that no matter what happened to me, I needed to get to a beach!
Where there any life lessons or realisations that came to you when you were diagnosed?
I learned to start recognizing the little moments and by noticing all the little tiny things that make you smile, you’ve discovered the greatest way to live life
A lot of people talk about how they see life differently `when faced with such a hurdle? What was that like for you? In what ways did your outlook on life change?
I became insanely positive through it all. I wanted to enjoy life to the fullest, and use whatever time I have left to be the happiest person and the greatest role model I can be for the people around me. Everyone in my family says I inspired them because of my strength and optimism through it all.
Can you take us through the journey of being diagnosed with cancer, fighting it and beating it?
It’s really hard, I’m not going to lie. Your life gets completely turned upside down virtually overnight. When I was diagnosed I was scared but I didn’t let on much, because I wanted my family to be okay. You learn to smile through the pain, laugh through the tough times, and rejoice when it’s finally over. During chemo treatments I would still eat food, I would still see visitors and I wouldn’t show anyone that I felt like my body was weaker every day. I told my doctors how I felt throughout everything so I was never hiding my symptoms. But I wanted them (my support system) to see I was strong and in the end it helped me be stronger overall! It seems basic to say, but really you take what you’ve got and roll with it or you crumble under the pressure.
Did you have a support system during this period?
Oh yes! My support system was amazing, and they truly helped me beat cancer. Between taking me to appointments, caring for me when I was down, spending time with me, and so many other things, I couldn’t have done it without them. My little town even held a benefit for me and my family, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been a part of. The way everyone came together and gave me hope was just incredible. My wonderful best friend (since we were 12!) came over the day after I got diagnosed and we shopped for “chemo clothes” together. We spent the day laughing, smiling and acting like nothing was wrong. I ended up hosting my friends and family at my house not long after I started treatments too, and everyone just made things seem like nothing was different. I’m really grateful for that.
What effect did this have on them and your relationship with them?
I became closer with everyone who wanted to be in my life! There were people my age who I didn’t really talk to in high school that I gained a new respect for because they comforted me. My family and I were close before but after this we bonded together in a way some people couldn’t imagine. My younger siblings were a huge motivator for me, because I knew I wanted to be around to see them grow up and flourish like I know they will.
How does it feel like to have survived cancer?
Amazing. I wish I could say more; it’s really an indescribable feeling. I just can’t believe I did it and I’m here now to share my story with as many people who will take the time to listen!
Where there any chances of you surviving cancer?
17% survival rate, I’m pretty sure. My cancer was rare to begin with, already stage 4 and in a terrible place for it. With Ewing’s Sarcoma, having it in the pelvis is one of the worst places and sadly that’s where a large portion of mine was. Also it took over part of my hip, spine and nerve root so it was inoperable which caused a whole other slew of problems. It didn’t look so good, but here I am so I can’t complain!
What was the journey to beating cancer like?
Difficult but life changing. Right when I got diagnosed I was going through the typical “am I doing the right thing for my life and future?” that a lot of people my age go through. I took the year off school to focus on healing and now I know who I am, who I want to be, and I’ve learned that I need to live every day like it’s my last.
When it comes to taking care of people who are ill, is there any advice or insight that you think people who are supporting cancer patients or ill patients generally can learn from?
Always keep an open mind and heart. So many times you see the family fight over treatment options and it could tear them apart before the real battle has even begun. Understand sometimes people want to be alone. Even if it seems like they’re stuck by themselves, (as I was many days in my treatment rooms) I really appreciated the alone time to sleep, think and reflect. Most importantly, always be supportive in their decisions no matter how hard! In the end, surrounding yourself with family and friends is my recommendation for any family having to fight this devil.
To those struggling to overcome and rise above cancer and other diseases. What words do you have for them?
Stay positive. You got this! My motto throughout my whole treatment was “I’ve got this” which really proved true! Setting an end goal, seeing what you need to do, an focusing on living life is the best way to fight.
Can you say hope, positive mindset and healthy mental well-being contribute to your recovery?
A thousand times yes! As I mentioned earlier, staying positive helped me through my entire ordeal. It helped me deal with the hard times and remember what’s truly important. Without my positive mindset I think that I could have dwelled on the fact that I was given such a little chance at survival and who knows what could have happened then. I knew what I needed to do and I did it with a smile!
In what ways did you exercise these attributes and what kept you pushing through when hope was lost?
I smiled constantly, and made jokes. I dressed up as Charlie Brown for Halloween and made all the nurses smile. Seeing people smile and enjoying life is what makes my heart happy, so being able to contribute to that even with my situation was a great feeling. Staying happy truly helped me stay strong 🙂
Lex works with OneListOneLife.com, an organisation helping cancer patients share their story and creating opportunities for them to experience their bucket lists.