My battle with leukemia began a month or so after graduating from high school in 2010. I was completely and utterly shocked, as I had always been perfectly healthy. I began treatment at Riley Hospital for Children, feeling my plans of attending IU slip away. When I didn’t think things could get any worse, I developed an infection that sent my body into septic shock. All of my organs were failing and I was put on a ventilator as well as kidney dialysis. In a last attempt to save my life, a decision was made to amputate my left leg. It is considered a miracle that I made it through the surgery. I’m often told that my condition was so bad that I am lucky that I didn’t loose all my limbs. After six weeks of fighting for my life in the ICU, I spent another couple months at Riley recovering and regaining my strength. I was finally able to return home in November of 2010.

I still have a long way to go, as I’m still dealing with many various complications and side effects from being as sick as I was. My mom and I make the four-hour drive to Indianapolis from our home in Evansville to receive chemotherapy once a week. Like many other cancer patients, I am often admitted to the oncology floor at Riley for weeks at a time for the occasional fever or infection. I’m looking forward to the day I will be done with chemo and want to eventually run on a prosthetic leg.

Something positive that has come from all of this is that I have the opportunity to share my story with others and raise awareness about the importance of Riley Hospital for Children. The Indiana University Dance Marathon allows me to do just this. It is such an amazing, life-changing event that I am so lucky to be involved in. It means the world to me to see all the many IU students act passionately towards a great cause like Riley. IUDM is a testament to the fact that young people can make a huge difference.