Journal entry by Leslie Cavanaugh

So here we are....exactly 1 year after we got the news that would change our lives forever.  On September 5, 2018, Alyssa was diagnosed with leukemia. 


Nine months after she finished her collegiate volleyball career at WKU, 4 months after graduating from college, 2 weeks after returning from Europe for a professional volleyball tryout and 48 hours after we spent Labor Day weekend at the lake celebrating all the good things in life.  


In just one year I’ve learned about cancer, chemotherapy, bone marrow biopsies, lumbar punctures, good blood counts and bad blood counts, insurance hiccups, denials and delays, how to research the best hospitals for her type of leukemia, bone marrow donor searches, bone marrow donor matches, active leukemia, remission, radiation, more chemo, bone marrow transplant, hair loss, chronic nausea and diarrhea, Graft vs. Host Disease, the devastation of long term steroid use, EBV virus, adenovirus, steroid weans, and more Graft vs, Host Disease.  I say I have “learned” but Alyssa is the one who has had to live with all of this and more. 


In one year I’ve learned that I have given birth to THE most incredible, brave, strong willed, most bad ass young woman that I’ve ever come across. I’ve learned that I have friends that would walk through fire for us. I’ve learned that family is everything and the rest of it, well, it’s just stuff.  I’ve learned that the kindness of complete and total strangers can make me believe in God again, just when I was losing hope. 


My prayers for the next year are simple.  Please God, keep Alyssa cancer-free.  Keep her struggles with the side effects of her bone marrow transplant to a minimum.  Keep her medical team on their toes and for them to always have my daughter’s best interest and care in mind. Please God, look out for my other 2 children as they are dealing with the fallout as well, from this horrible disease. Please God, protect our marriage from the stress and heartbreak of dealing with our child’s illness. I say prayers for the others that we’ve met on this journey, especially the McSweeney, Snyder, and Wilson families. I pray that this time next year, this will all be a distant memory. 


I know we are one of the lucky ones.  Alyssa has had access to the top doctors in the country.  We have insurance that is paying for the massive costs in fighting this.  We had money in the bank to pay for the things insurance didn’t cover. We have a support system in place that rallies behind us anytime there was a setback. I have to constantly remind myself that it could be worse.  


So, I’ll end on a positive note.  My daughter today does NOT have leukemia. I love my family.  I love my friends and I have to believe, in the end, this is going to turn out okay.

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