“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
My Battle for Life
On July 9, 1999 my world turned upside down. As a 6-year-old, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Within three hours of entering the doors of Riley Hospital, I had a bone marrow test, a diagnosis, a treatment plan and was admitted into the hospital.
ALL is the most common most treatable cancer in children, but it must never be taken lightly. It is an aggressive, fast-acting CANCER. I made it through treatment the first time without many bumps or bruises, and was headed onto the road of remission.
A Second Fight
Nearly six months later, on July 12, 2002 (three days and three years after my first diagnosis) I learned the cancer had returned. This time I experienced more difficulties including a fungal infection that settled on my liver, kidneys and spleen. This infection took away the option of a bone marrow transplant, and almost took my life.
At 9 years old, 35 pounds, and less than a 10 percent chance of living, I needed a miracle.
The medicine typically used to treat the infection I had was not curing it and it was slowly eating away at my body. For months, I remained an inpatient at Riley. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, I was held under the care of some of the best physicians and nurses there are.
A Life-Saving Turn
Something I learned long after I had recovered was that my doctor, Dr. Jeffery Goldman, spent every hour in the hospital that I did, night and day, until he found a drug that was yet to be approved by the FDA, and yet to be used on children in the United States.
That drug, Caspofungin, saved my life. It was administered every day (including at home by my parents), and in 6 months’ time no infection was to be found inside of my body. But what lie ahead were two-and-a-half more years of chemotherapy and cranial and spinal radiation.
Riley Hospital for Children is my safe haven. My life was saved on those grounds. As I have mentioned before, cancer is an ugly beast. Nearly every friend I have met along the way— 10 of them to count— have passed away. That includes Dr. Goldman. The man who fought daily to save the lives of children with cancer lost his own life to the very same disease.
Carrying the Torch
I have often been referred to as a “torch carrier” for this hospital. When I entered Riley Hospital at age 6 my torch was lit. At age 9, the light grew dim, but once again began to burn bright. Today, the light continues to burn. I will continue to carry the torch for those who have lost their battle, those who have won and those who continue to fight within these very walls.
The fact that I am here to carry that torch today has everything to do with the grace of God and the work of Riley Hospital, a place whose motto has never rung more true:
HOPE HAPPENS HERE.
If you would like to explore corporate sponsorship opportunities for the LPGA Legends Championship benefiting Riley Hospital, please contact Joe Vezzoso, vice president of resort operations at French Lick Resort, at firstname.lastname@example.org.