Recipient

Sarah F.

California, United States

I refuse to let Cancer or Mental Illness break me

In February 2017, I received news that would change my life forever. After experiencing a number of odd symptoms for weeks on end, I finally made my way to the Emergency Department and was ultimately diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a very aggressive form of blood cancer that can turn fatal in a short amount of time.

Because of its aggressive nature, I was started on an Intensive chemotherapy regimen the next day. There were many grueling physical and mental side effects that occurred from chemotherapy, but with the help of a lot of incredible medical professionals and loved ones, I ultimately persevered.

A lot of my mental health issues during treatment were complicated by the fact that I had existing depression, anxiety and PTSD prior to my cancer diagnosis and going through treatment compounded a lot of existing issues I’d already been battling for years.

The silver lining to this experience was that it ultimately made me take treating my mental health much more seriously. I began talk therapy and would also engage in support and writing groups to address the emotional pain.

After completing seven months of in-patient chemotherapy, I was switched to a maintenance chemotherapy protocol for over two years to ensure I wouldn’t relapse. My regimen consisted of high doses of steroids which caused me to become overweight and pre-diabetic in a matter of months. I was eventually able to lose a good amount of the weight towards the end of my maintenance protocol through diet, but I still struggle with exercising because I have a lot of nerve and joint issues from prolonged chemotherapy.

I tried out a Peloton once and enjoyed how low-impact it was on my nerves and joints and also how inspirational the class felt. I also think it would help tremendously with giving me back a lot of the physical and emotional strength I’ve been attempting to regain the past few years. Thank you for considering me!

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