30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2020
My name is Travis Reese, I am 17 years old and currently a senior in high school, enrolled in 5 AP classes & Honors Chinese IV. October 31,2018 will be a date I will never forget, the day my world crashed around me. I was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a mediastinal mass. I was a sophomore in high school when I was diagnosed, and school had just started a month before my diagnosis. With the help of my Academic Advisor and friend, Mr. Peter Dougherty, I successfully taught myself my sophomore academic year ending the year with High Honors. I was in 2 AP classes, 2 Honors classes, Chemistry and Chinese III, but with determination and a strong will I achieved what at the time, I thought would never be possible. Through each treatment phase, I never wanted pity, for there was a silver lining. My diagnosis has molded me into the person I am today, made me into a better man, and it showed me how truly strong I am.
The family that I had after my diagnosis was far bigger than I would have ever pictured. My family extended far beyond that of my mother, myself and 2 siblings. After my diagnosis, I was fortunate enough to meet some of the most professional and intelligent oncologists, registered nurses, a social worker and a child life specialist in the medical field, along with an amazing support group for children affected by cancer. This group, of course, is PCFLV.
My first month of treatment, I was completely hospital-bound due to how sick I was, and the intensity of induction chemotherapy. In the stages that followed, I experienced a grand mal seizure, requiring a few rounds of CPR, and yet, my battle continues. My mother, who is a single parent, has never left my side through all of this, even losing her job as a critical care registered nurse when I was first diagnosed, because she refused to have me go through treatment alone. PCFLV helped make that possible along with the help of a nonprofit organization known as Red Corner Benefit, and a few of my mother's colleagues. PCFLV helped my mother cope by bringing her coffee on an almost daily basis when I have been hospitalized and by being a sounding board by allowing her to express her emotions so that she could remain strong for my siblings and me. They did this in both a compassionate and empathetic way. PCFLV supplied us with grocery gift cards so she could still support my other two siblings and me. They also supplied my mother with gas cards so she could transport my brother from the Philadelphia, where he attends Drexel University, to the hospital to see me. PCFLV and the entire Lehigh Valley Reilly Children's Hospital staff showed me that family is not just a genetic relation, but rather the strong bonds you build with other people.
Since I am a senior in high school, I intend to apply for the PCFLV Scholarship that is awarded to cancer survivors, for I want to utilize it to help me attain my ultimate goal of attending medical school and giving back to the profession that saved my life. I hope that I would be able to bring a new perspective to the future of pediatric hematology/oncology, as I would not only have the medical background, but I could relate to my patients on a whole other level, because I went through what they will be going through. I'd like to close by thanking PCFLV for everything they did and will continue to do for my family and me. My journey is only half complete, for I have 18 months of treatment remaining, finishing on March 11, 2022. Please, donate to this amazing organization, so that they can continue to inspire and lift-up other children just like myself.
Written by Travis