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A Success Story - Alexa Hickman

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Alexa Hickman

       Alexa is attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Chattanooga, Tennessee, majoring in Nursing (RN-BSN.)  Alexa's cancer journey has motivated her to devote her profession and life to other cancer patients as a Pediatric Oncology Nurse, hoping to show them the kindness, compassion, and encouragement needed to win their battles.  She is a Synovial Sarcoma survivor.  In her own words:

Growing up on a small farm, I watched my dad and mom struggle physically and mentally everyday.  I always knew I never wanted to struggle the way we had my entire life.  I always hoped one day after college I could help my parents and family if they ever needed me.  They made so many sacrifices when I was growing up to make sure I always had the things I needed. 

There was not a lot of extra time, but I did get to play softball year around, and we never missed Church unless there was an emergency.  It seemed as though college was so far away, and I had so much time to decide where I wanted to go and even tryout for softball teams. 

However, in 2011, I started having severe leg and back pain.  After months of seeing specialists and testing, I was diagnosed with Congenital Hip Dysplasia.  I underwent a Periacetabular Osteotomy in June of 2012.  After many months, I was finally able to walk on my own but with pain.  As the pain continued to get worse, I was sent to Vanderbilt where they discovered on June 26, 2013, I had a rare aggressive cancer called Synovial Sarcoma.  I was in disbelief; how can this be: just 1 year after my hip surgeries that I could face Cancer? 

My heart sank because I knew there was a chance I would never play college softball.  My treatments started my senior year, and the doctors also told me I could lose my leg or even my life.  I had 25 rounds of radiation followed by 5 rounds of chemo.  My tumor resection was October 16, 2014.  It was very complicated because my tumor was embedded in my femoral artery and would also require limb salvage surgery.  After surgery, I battled numerous infections, hospitalizations, blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and Vascular Disease. 

Some of the most important people on my journey were former Cancer patients or Cancer patients that were further along with their treatments than me.  Their encouraging words and just talking with someone who had been through what I was going through helped me more then, and still to this day, than anyone can ever imagine. Many people can say that they know someone who has had Cancer, but not many can say that they have had Cancer.  No one can ever imagine what it is like to endure the diagnosis, treatments, and long-term effects.  

I want to make a difference in the lives of Cancer patients, and especially children and teens.  I want to tell that little girl that just lost all of her hair how beautiful she is, and that her hair will come back.  I want to give hope to that young boy who doesn't think he will ever play baseball again that he can!  I want to help the grieving parents who just received their child's diagnosis. 

I can and will make a difference and touch the lives of many people.  I can't think of anyone better qualified to show compassion to a hurting child and family than a Cancer Survivor.  I currently volunteer at the Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee as a guest representative.  I am able to encourage people who are sick and hurting, and give them hope and encouragement to help them win their battle,  My journey has not been easy, and I know that some of the toughest battles are fought with the strongest warriors. 

Some of the most important things my journey has taught me is to always be thankful and help someone less fortunate or in need, every day.  Romans 15:1 'We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.'   Thank you, Cancer Survivors' Fund, for helping me achieve my goal of becoming a Pediatric Oncology Nurse, and making a difference in the lives of so many children."

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