Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 42

Calling Out Cancer

TEEN CANCER AMERICA

Rest. You Deserve It.

M

y name is Tori and I am 24
years old. I was diagnosed
with acute myeloid leukemia at 19, right before I
was about to finish my
second quarter of sophomore year in college. I
remember I had just gotten back a paper from
my philosophy course that I got 100% on, and
I was 2 or 3 weeks away from finals. My first

42

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2020

BY TOR I NORT H

year of college was a rough one and my grades
were not at all worthy of putting on the fridge,
but in my second year, something had changed.
I found motivation and actually had a desire
to do well, and to meet that desire. Now this
wasn't the only thing my diagnosis messed
with but the fact that I had to take an incomplete for that quarter and didn't get any credit
for the courses I had worked so hard for just

felt like this looming symbolism over my life.
At the time of my diagnosis, I was working my
first official job, I was in my first official relationship, and I was able to be myself with my
friends. I think I was happy.
I sort of remember my first week at the
children's hospital where I received all my
treatments. I sat up in my hospital bed, hair
hadn't even started to fall out yet from the
chemo, and I asked my oncologist, " How
long will it take me to feel normal again? "
I can never tell if the question quite caught
my doctor off-guard, but looking back now
I know we were thinking about totally different things. He was thinking about how
to kill what was inside of me before it killed
me. I was thinking about how if I live, what
is that going to be like after? I had no idea,
and frankly neither did anyone else. But he
gave me an answer anyway. " Some patients
begin to feel a sense of normalcy around 3
years, maybe more. " He said this before it was
eventually decided I needed to have a bone
marrow transplant because the chemotherapy was not doing enough work on its own.
While there was a lot that went on during
my 7 months of inpatient treatment, I do
want to focus on the transition back to
*gasp* real life afterwards. I will note that
during my treatment, all I could think about
was the life I was missing out on. And on
my week-long stays at home (which I was
actually terrified to do since there were no
nurses and doctors and IV pumps in case
something bad happened), all I could think
about was how the germs around me which
I couldn't see were a danger to my health. I
couldn't leave the house without wearing a
mask (which now I am heh-heh-ing at everyone complaining about having to do that
today). I couldn't stand for too long without feeling totally winded. I couldn't stop
thinking about how I would not be able to
provide a family for my partner. I couldn't
even think about going places in the future
without absolutely losing my sh*t because I
didn't know when that was going to be. I was


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Elephants And Tea - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - December 2020

Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 1
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Contents
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 3
Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - 4
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Elephants And Tea - December 2020 - Cover3
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