Meet Isabella LeKander
"Life is too short to sit around waiting, and if I can inspire others with my story to take life by the horns, I will. I want to help others see the world from my unique perspective as a survivor."
I was a passionate little girl. I filled my days with soccer and school, constantly in motion. Suddenly, I developed a horrible leg pain and found myself in the emergency room. To my disbelief, an assumed pulled muscle became MRIs and biopsies. A month later, my parents stood in front of me and delivered words I was unable to comprehend: “You have cancer.”
I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in sixth grade. The discovery of my tumor was miraculous, but my journey ahead was still a perilous one. I was the overachieving child, and I thought I was truly unstoppable. I was unable to comprehend the full extent of what “having cancer” meant. I approached it the same as every challenge in my life so far: I can handle it; I will just push through it; I will be excellent at beating cancer. If beating cancer is a class, I am going to get an A. I was shocked out of this mentality when I heard the words of one specialist. “You will never run again. You will never jump again. You will never step foot on the soccer field again. You will be lucky to keep your leg, and it will be a miracle if you can walk without a limp.” This was the moment I understood the true extent of my illness. I would have to fight just to survive. With this deathly realization came another: I want to live. My mark had not yet been made, and I would not go down without a fight.
I underwent a full year of chemotherapy along with a ten hour major surgery. I lost my hair, my eyebrows, and my eyelashes. I weighed only sixty pounds. I would go days at a time without eating in the hospital. I was on crutches, unable to walk, for over six months. I barely talked, lying in the hospital bed. I became a shell of the little girl I once was. Honestly, I lost hope.
Slowly, hope came back into my life. After six months, I stood for the first time with a walker. I fought tirelessly to beat the odds each day. Three years later, I played my first high school soccer game. Today, I can walk, run, jump, and play soccer to my heart’s content. With my physical recovery came emotional growth. I was gifted a newfound appreciation for life itself. Cancer turned me into a person of spontaneity, inspiring me to stop waiting and take action. These actions began to manifest themselves in my vision for the future. I began to realize my calling-medicine. I want to be like the surgeons who helped me.
Being a cancer survivor, I have looked upon my life from the perspective that a future is not guaranteed to me. With remission came overwhelming gratitude. I am thankful for each moment that I get to experience, and I strive to make each day meaningful. I am focused on making something of my future – of using the time I have to bring tangible change to the world. I want to be the neurosurgeon who helps mankind fully understand the human brain or the doctor who finds a cure for Alzheimers. By 2024, I hope to have started embarking on my journey into the medical field. I plan to be applying to medical school and graduating from college at the top of my class. Most importantly, however, is that I want to inspire others. I want to teach those around me to just go out and do. Life is too short to sit around waiting, and if I can inspire others with my story to take life by the horns, I will. I want to help others see the world from my unique perspective as a survivor. I want to tum my passions into actions and start changing the issues I see in the world. I will never wake up and take the day for granted. I want to know the world and love the world and experience the world as intensely as I can with this life that I have been given.