Author: Ryan Hathaway

A warrior’s letter of hope


Dear young warrior,

I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on April 3, 2009. I was 15. After a month of intensive inpatient chemotherapy, I went into remission. Then came two years of outpatient chemo, and a bilateral hip replacement in 2011. A recent checkup with my oncologist confirmed that I’m still in remission. 

I’ve been healthy for years, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t often think about it, about all of it — the people, places and feelings that comprise an entire chapter of my life. Now, not a single year will pass when I don’t feel April 3 looming weeks in advance. But I’m careful to never dwell, ruminate or brood on it, because what good would it do to wonder what might have been if I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer seven years ago?

People can’t fathom cancer. When your family and friends find out you have cancer, they may say, “I can’t imagine what that’s like for you and your parents. Your attitude is remarkable.” The funny thing is, I couldn’t have imagined what it’d be like either until I was faced with it. But I can recount the day I was diagnosed with as much vivid detail as I could tell you what I did yesterday. I can tell you I drove into Boston in my mom’s minivan with the seat reclined using my coat as a makeshift blanket, for comfort. I can remember the face of the doctor who told me I was sick. I can remember the nurse who came to console me and my family.

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