Hello, my name is Julia and I am a Leukemia survivor. On June 28, 2015, I married my best friend in Cincinnati, Ohio. We spent our honeymoon in Venice, Italy, and then returned to start our life together. I was entering my doctorate program for pharmacy in August that year, and I had three days of school orientation before classes began on Monday. My symptoms started about a week before diagnosis, and I experienced symptoms of fatigue, paleness, lightheadedness, and a fast pulse. I went to a doctor to address some of my anemia symptoms, had blood work for the first time in my life, and was told days later that everything looked fine, I was just anemic and needed to take iron. Once I saw the results for myself, I saw that all of my lymph was “atypical and immature”, a sign I knew I could not ignore. I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age 21, the weekend before starting pharmacy school, just six weeks after I was married.
My treatment was rough that first year. My doctors know that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong for me. It was difficult to be “that” patient that needed to be watched with every new medication. My family was with me every step of the way and I am so thankful for their love and support. Now that I am 9 months off treatment, I am finally starting to feel like myself again. I gained forty pounds during treatment, lost my hair twice, and changed so much emotionally. Now I am back to my original weight and have hair past my shoulders, but I am still such a different person from when I began. I am thankful for my time to reevaluate my life goals and time that gave me perspective on the cancer world because I never knew how far cancer’s grasp spans.
Dragonfly has been there for us since the beginning! When I spent my first month of treatment inpatient at Cincinnati Children’s, Dragonfly had a hospital survival bag filled with all the things you would probably forget you need at the hospital. They provided so many gift cards and opportunities for fun for me and my family. My favorite Dragonfly moment was going to the Twenty One Pilots concert in 2016. I met a new Dragonfly friend there who has meant so much to me the past few years. Thank you, Dragonfly, for making the cancer experience a little bit better!