My name is Carly Freels, I am a twenty-one year old student at Texas A&M University studying to be an elementary school teacher; however, there is a lot that got me to where I am today. I am so honored to have the opportunity to tell you a little bit about my story today.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma my junior year of high school, at seventeen years of age. All my life, I had taken pride in leading a health conscious, very active lifestyle. I ate healthy, worked out daily, and took care of myself in every way I knew how. However, on April 30th, 2012, my world was turned upside down with one small word – cancer.  Our family dynamic was always one centered on faith, but we knew that the journey ahead would change us forever.

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No matter if it is you specifically, or a loved one given the diagnosis, no one knows how to cope when faced with this worldly plague. It is just as scary and helpless of a situation for the family and friends as it is for the patient, but the focus is never on them. Everyone is going to react to their diagnosis in their own way; however, if I could provide one piece of advise for any friend of family member in this situation, it would be to treat your loved one the same as you always have. My family is truly what got me through my battle with cancer, and that all stems back to their unwavering support, and the fact that they never treated me like anything other than the friend/sister/daughter that I always had been to them.

Through my treatment, my family, friends and I faced countless obstacles. Having the role of a high school girl, my worries in hearing the word “cancer” were more affiliated with losing my hair, putting volleyball on hold, and missing out on school events, rather than the actual diagnosis of my health. No matter how seemingly big or small the obstacle may have seemed to outside parties, I constantly had the support group around me to keep my faith in tact, my positivity the priority, and my fears in the fading background.

One blessing I quickly realized was the fact that I had grown up in Houston, Texas, where there are so many prime medical facilities. The day I walked into MD Anderson for my first appointment, is truly a day I will never forget. My volleyball coach, who became one of my life mentors, had forewarned me that MD Anderson (as with any hospital) is a place that can either be drowned in darkness or looked at through the light. It was up to you to program your mentality the second you became a patient. It was up to you to decide what impact you would make on the MD Anderson community. Because I was easily the oldest in the pediatric center, I decided that I wanted to take on the role of an encourager to those younger than me. I was just as scared and helpless in the situation; however, I knew that the Lord put me in this place to help others see Him in their trials, even if that was along side of my own. The team I was assigned at MD Anderson, as I’m sure is true of every worker there, is nothing less than top of the line. Every doctor I encountered was not only knowledgeable in his or her area of expertise, but also so welcoming and uplifting to my family and me.

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Since I have been cured of my cancer, I rarely take any day for granted. I realize now that every second is a gift from the Lord and that we are blessed to be healthy and with the ones we love. Although sometimes it is hard to see in the moment, life goes on after hardships. I still return to MD Anderson bi-annually for routine check ups, but aside from that, I am living the life I have always dreamed.

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I decided to write and publish this book last year. All throughout my treatments, I kept a journal of my thoughts, prayers, fears, etc. and felt like I was called to share it with others who may find themselves in similar situations. Everyone is affected by cancer either directly or indirectly, and I wanted my experience, and overall triumph through the Lord, to be known.  All too often, the tragedies of cancer are given the spotlight, when in reality; it should be the successes that are focused on. These are the stories that will provide a source of hope for those currently battling this earthly plague. In my book, I also asked each family member of mine to contribute a chapter, so that it was not solely focused on the patient, yet a well rounded story of everyone involved.

If you, or anyone you know is facing cancer, please consider reading

When Faith > Fearfor a positive outlook on what has become such a negative topic.

Thank you and God bless,

Carly Freels

Hebrews 11:1