What's your story?

I grew up in Rocky River with a younger brother, and we had a great childhood, we have always had a very strong family presence in our lives and it’s been so important to keep that up as an adult. I have a wonderful family and amazing friends who have always been supportive.

On- April 27th, 2018- I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia. I was also told that without a bone marrow transplant my diagnosis was fatal. My transplant was August 14, 2018, and a few days after I went into full renal failure (kidneys shut down) which forced me to be on dialysis for 24 hours a day, and, even after my family was prepped, that I most likely would not make it through this, I did, and I am still here!

*What made you nervous about having your portrait taken?

After I came out of the ICU, I had been unconscious about my body. I went from 130 lbs pre-transplant and, I wake up 210 pounds in fluid, and not knowing how to walk on my own because I lost most of my muscle mass in my legs. I was put on high dose steroids to treat different side effects post transplant. I have a “new body” it’s bigger then I have ever been, I am self conscious, I’ve been shy about getting my picture taken and going to events because I hate the way I look.

*What do you love doing that makes you feel kick ass?

I do love talking to people about cancer/leukemia and answering their questions, anything they may want to know. I love teaming up with other patients and giving each other advice and or making newer patients aware of what can and cannot happen. It makes me feel so good that I can share this with others and make them comfortable with what’s either going to happen, or giving them a safe space to completely vent by just listening and offering a shoulder to cry on. The word cancer is a scary thing, but you take it and make it into something less scary in your own way. You have to Always Keep going.