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Rhea’s Story

It was two weeks before my high school graduation. I was preparing for finals and getting ready for summer break before starting my college career. I was so excited. I could not wait to put high school behind me and start a new chapter in my life — when all of a sudden, my plans changed.

 

 My sisters and me on the day of my twin’s wedding

One day after school, I had a really long nose bleed. And by really long, I mean a four-hour-long nose bleed. After the first couple hours, I went to the emergency room. They ran some blood tests and proceeded to inform me that they were almost positive I had leukemia, but that they had to do a bone marrow biopsy to confirm it.

 

Hospital Day 1

The following day, I was transferred to Riley Children’s Hospital where the doctors confirmed that I did have Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I remember thinking, “This can’t be right. I’m healthy. I play sports. What did I do to deserve this?”

There were so many thoughts going through my mind. At 18, my biggest worry before diagnosis was which college I was going to attend. And now I had to deal with this! I didn’t think it was fair, but I learned that it didn’t matter what I thought at that point; I couldn’t change the diagnosis. I could only change my viewpoint.

 

Johnny and me

I’m not going to say that from then on I was all smiles, because I definitely was not. However, my attitude did help me accept the situation in front of me. Seeing the smiles of all the kids at Riley also helped my attitude. Even in their darkest times, the kids always seem to be smiling.

 

Riley Cancer Center Prom with my favorite nurse, Julie!

My personal experience with cancer has given me a passion to help those currently suffering. The kids who surrounded me at Riley also influence my drive to help people who are suffering from cancer. Now three years later, when I look back on my personal experience with cancer, I find that it has granted me a special kind of connection with cancer patients of all ages.The passion and energy I have all stems from my experiences at Riley Children’s Hospital.

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