When I was 12 years old, I felt like I was on top of the world. I’d just made the cheerleading squad. I’d been inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. My coach had named me the No. 1 pitcher for our softball team, and I was voted middle-school president.
My family went out for a celebration dinner. As I was sitting across from my mom with my hair pulled back and head turned, she saw a slight bulge on the side of my neck.
We went to my doctor’s office the very next day. She prescribed some antibiotics and told us to come back in a few days. At my follow-up exam, the lump had grown larger. The next thing I knew, I was lying on a cold operating room table.
I woke up at home and saw my mother’s friends crying as if someone had just died. I asked my mom what was going on. She told me the doctor said my blood looked funny, and they wanted to run some more tests.
On the last day of school in my seventh-grade year, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Instead of having my friends sign my yearbook, I was in a fog listening to some doctor talk about cancer, chemo and surgery. Soon, I was losing weight and my hair was falling out. After months of intensive chemotherapy, excruciating spinal taps, bone marrow draws, blood transfusions, surgeries and MRIs, I was an 86-pound skeleton – and fighting for my life.
While enduring endless hours in the hospital, I became inspired by the true story behind the Disney movie, “Cool Runnings.” It’s about four Jamaicans who overcame enormous obstacles to achieve their dream of competing in the Winter Olympics as bobsledders.
Their triumph over adversity inspired and motivated me to conquer cancer and face the world, determined to return to living a full life.
When the Make-A-Wish® Eastern Virginia offered to grant me a wish, I wished to meet Chris Stokes, the captain of that Jamaican Bobsled Team. Meeting Chris in Jamaica was a pivotal moment in my recovery.
Make-A-Wish provided me with the chance to meet a real hero who challenged me to face everything life could throw at me with confidence, determination and commitment.
Since that meeting, I have done just that.
Since her wish, Lindsey has led a full and accomplished life. She was the first-ever youth representative on the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life National Advisory Board and was named Miss Virginia Beach 2003. In 2006, she graduated from the College of Law at the University of Tulsa and married her law-school sweetheart. Today, Lindsey is a mother of two.