Hello Embracing the Spectrum reader,
My name is Carly Freels, and I am so honored to have the opportunity to tell you a little bit about my story today.
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 that, from the outside looking in, very few know. This is one of the beautiful and intriguing things about college. In high school, everyone knows everything about your life. But the second you step on these campus grounds, everyone is new, and more excitingly, behind every stranger is a story waiting to be heard. So here is mine.
I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was seventeen years old, during my junior year of high school. All my life, up until that point, I had led a health conscious, very active lifestyle. I ate healthy, worked out daily, and took care of myself in anyway I knew how. Yet, on April 30th, 2012, my world was completely turned upside down with six letters – cancer. Our family dynamic was always once centered on faith, but we knew that what was about to come our way would change us forever.
Although it may seem silly or even naïve to an outside party, when I was first informed of my diagnosis, my initial response was “Can I still play volleyball?” Even though I understood that cancer is one of the most life changing things I could have been exposed to, my current role of a high school girl led me to believe that putting volleyball aside was a more devastating loss.
Of course, after accepting that being active in sports was going to have to become a goal rather than a priority, my next concern was how things at school would change once the word got out. Growing up, no matter what stage of my life, I had always loved school. I loved learning, I loved the friendships it formed, and I loved the role models you could find in your teachers. I guess this is what led me to study education at A&M. Because of this deep passion to learn, I didn’t want this newly found glitch in my bill of health to keep me from these experiences. I wanted to act normal and attend school like every one of my peers. In my head, I played it out like any other day, walking the halls with my friends, sitting in class taking notes on that week’s Calculus lesson, going to after-school practice; however, this was not my reality.
My days quickly became filled with empathetic stares and conversations, not being able to focus in classes due to all of life’s problems weighing on me, and the doctor’s orders to not participate in volleyball. My friends, my faith, and my family were truly my rock through all these wavering circumstances.
Life became about finding the daily victories and blessings and clenching tightly to those for hope. 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 the 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.
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.
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.
[bctt tweet=”A great read for anyone facing cancer! Truly an #inspiration by @CarlyFreels” username=”embracespectrum”]
If you, or anyone you know is facing cancer, please consider reading
When Faith > Fear… for a positive outlook on what has become such a negative topic.
Thank you and God bless,
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If you find Carly’s story inspirational and want to get a copy of her book, you can purchase it here.