In the following article, Emily Magnus shares her personal experience with melanoma, after being diagnosed in January of 2008 at the young age of 11. In the months that followed, Emily underwent several surgeries to remove the tumor and effected lymph nodes. Her treatment continued at Levine Cancer Institute through the following spring. Today, Emily (pictured above) is a healthy 17 year-old, Senior high school student in Statesville, NC. Emily will attend UNC-Chapel Hill beginning in the fall of 2014.
“We all have our own stories. A background or event that has been life-altering; a specific date or time that is forever etched into our memories, a terrible accident, or a terrific success. My story is one that left behind scars and pain along with strength, faith, and a positive outlook on life. February 12, 2008 is the date that is a part of my life and the very day that I was diagnosed with Melanoma. I will never forget the foggy words the doctor spoke as my confused adolescent mind realized that I was no longer healthy. I was only 11 years old and felt like a broken object, no longer in mint condition. The countless surgeries began and the scars multiplied. The chemo-therapy commenced and the small hair follicles slowly loosened out of my head and onto the floor.
I tell this story not for sympathy or remorse, but for realization. I believe that as children we all think we are invincible and that nothing in the world can touch us. I once had this outlook, until a tumor began growing on my leg, and I was proven wrong. It was at this point in my life that everything began to connect, and I came to a sudden appreciation for life. Something as simple as walking down the hall was stripped from my physical strength. Everything that was once so easy throughout my life was now being tested. Not only was my physical endurance given a sudden pop quiz on how to survive, but so was my faith. I had to turn to something I was never required to before. I turned towards God, and through this experience I gained more than just the title of being a survivor. I gained the knowledge of who I really was.
You learn in life that things are constantly changing, but the one thing I have come to discover is that my Lord can never be substituted. I look at my experience with cancer not with a heavy heart but a grateful one. Without the trials and tribulations that I endured my zest and thankfulness for life would not amount to what it now is. Every day I live with hope and cheerfulness knowing that I am a survivor. I was given a second chance and saw that a simple heart beat can be taken from you so quickly. I wear a smile on my face at all times and have often been asked throughout my life why I am always happy. My answer to that specific question is, why live life being anything but happy?
No matter where we are or what barriers are placed in our way we must be assured that with a little faith and perseverance anything is capable of being overcome. I once heard somebody refer to life as a marathon with hurdles placed throughout the track. Through my experience I have learned to keep running and continuously jump over the hurdles. It will never be a straight shot to the finish line, but eventually I will get there. I have gained my victory and crossed the checkered line towards a cancer free life. It has been only five years since I was diagnosed with Melanoma, and I still wake up daily thankful for another day and a life full of happiness. We all have our own stories and hurdles, and cancer is mine. It formed my identity and made me a person who truly lives each day for each moment. This is my story. The needles and medicine that I faced will never compare to the knowledge of myself that I gained.”
– Emily Magnus