The last five years have been a true tempest for Faith. But you would never know it if you talked to her. Despite what she has been through, this beautiful 19-year-old exudes positivity.
Her cancer journey began when she was fifteen. After finding a lump in her chest, her doctors determined that Faith had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her treatment consisted of eight months of chemotherapy, which caused her to lose her hair, which was very traumatizing for her. She was declared cancer-free at the end of her treatment. But that only lasted six months before she relapsed.
After chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation did nothing to stop her cancer, Faith’s doctors looked for a bone marrow match for her. Unfortunately, the national registry did not have a match. Faith underwent CAR T cell therapy, which uses immune cells that are genetically altered in a lab to locate and destroy cancer cells. This therapy worked well, and Faith was able to resume a normal teenage life.
“I lived each day as if it were my last,” Faith shared. “My family and I celebrated every milestone that most people take for granted.”
Three years later, another lump put her back in treatment. This time, a bone marrow match was located, and Faith underwent a bone marrow transplant, which worked to stop the lymphoma. But it came with a complication that she is fighting now.
Transplant patients are given an immunosuppressant drug to prevent the immune system from attacking the new organ or bone marrow. This drug depletes the immune system, leaving the patient susceptible to infection. Unfortunately, Faith contracted a virus that led to a condition called post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder or PTLD, which she is currently fighting.
Faith has kept a journal about her journey. The words she uses to begin the account of her fight with cancer are haunting.
“I used to stare into the mirror, haunted by the reflection looking back at me. The girl who once had long blonde hair and a perfect, scarless body was gone. My face was inflamed, my ribs were poking out, and dark circles surrounded my eyes. I blinked, and dresses became hospital gowns, hoping for good grades became hoping for good test results, and spending time with friends became spending time with doctors. When my doctor revealed that I had Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it felt as if my entire identity was ripped away. The old me was gone, and the only thing left to do was accept this new life of mine.”
Now that she sees the end of her cancer fight, Faith wants to use her story to raise awareness about childhood cancer and funds for research. She wants to be a part of the solution for children forced to fight like she has.
“My biggest goal is to use my story as a survival guide for kids and give back and help in any way that I can to help other people,” Faith said. “I’ve just started thinking about my future now that I know that I have one.”