Facing cancer was something I never thought would cross my path. This was the most challenging obstacle I have ever faced but the most rewarding. As I look back at my journey I couldn’t be more grateful to be here today to share my story with others. I have been an advocate in the cancer community for the past five years and have educated others about the process a patient goes through and how it effects friends and family. Sharing how my life has evolved and the impact Cancer had and still has on me is one of the most rewarding tasks I have ever done. Going from a normal teenager to a patient in a hospital bed and now a College Graduate is a different path than I imagined for myself, but wouldn’t change it for the world. I think having the chance to tell the community about the challenges I overcame and the ones cancer patients face daily is what inspires others to make a difference. My mission is to make a difference in the lives of children battling cancer. Cancer will forever be a life changing disease that I overcame and has made me the strong women I am today. I am not afraid to be myself and show my battle wounds to the world.
Because I can be AUTHENTIC ~ Nikki K.
On May 9th, 2013, I was diagnosed with Leukemia and at this time in my life, I was finishing my Sophomore year of high school with just a month left. As I was concluding my 3rd year on the South Saint Paul Varsity girls hockey team I brought my attention back to a knee injury I had been dealing with since the Girls State Hockey Tournament in February. As days, weeks, and months passed from February to May, I tried to push myself through the pain as I felt it would get better, but the pain continued to grow greater and take over.
On May 8th, I spiked a high fever and as a result my mom took me to the emergency room. I was admitted to the hospital until they could find out what was wrong with me. We were there overnight and on the morning of May 9th, a swarm of doctors entered my room. We knew the news couldn’t be good. Hearing someone tell you that you have cancer is something in your life that you will never forget. From that day on, I knew my life would never be the same.
We dove right into treatment after that day and didn’t stop until we reached December of 2013 when a bone marrow transplant was in sight. As the condition of my health continued to deteriorate from the treatment, I spent more and more nights at Masonic fighting the side effects from chemo and radiation. Every time I was admitted to Masonic, one positive thing I could always look forward to were my nurses, doctors, and hospital staff. Masonic in my opinion has some of best staff there is and I couldn’t be more thankful to have them be the ones who took care of me then and still do today.
I like to think of myself as one of the lucky ones because I had my oldest sister, Jenni who is here with me tonight, be my match for a bone marrow transplant. I couldn’t have been happier knowing I didn’t have to wait to find someone because she was right in front of me. I received my transplant on December 26th, 2013. After receiving my bone marrow, my stay at Masonic was ongoing for 30 days.
Figuring out who I am after cancer and the path I want to take is where I am still at today. I am educating people on how cancer can change lives and make these kids stronger for what they have ahead of them. No one treatment has the same protocol and every story has a different outcome, but as for my story, I want to make it known that even though cancer was the hardest thing I have ever faced, I would not change anything about it. I am an authentic leader and will continue to positively impact the lives of children battling cancer. ~ Nikki K.