At 31, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). As my career was finally taking off as a celebrity makeup artist and I finally felt “grown-up,” it came to a screeching halt. My life became cancer and getting better. Although I struggled with the isolation, I connected with many other patients via social media.
Finding other queer people who understood the cancer journey was important to me. Cancer is already isolating, and being queer can be very isolating. Finding a friend who can relate to both was no easy feat but well worth it. I got through treatment with pop music and support and gummy bears. I was immediately assisted by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) upon diagnosis and connected to the organization. Thanks for being a support, especially to my shocked family during this time.
After an intense first round of chemo, I did go into remission! After that, I would continue chemo for eight months while the search for an anonymous bone marrow donor commenced. Waiting for my transplant was like watching a pot of water boil except with anxiety. Just waiting for good news at any moment. Finally, in February 2020, I was approved for the transplant and was scheduled for March 13, 2020. You’ll look back and remember that was the day America locked down. Travel stopped and COVID-19 became very real.
I spent my transplant and recovery alone with nurses and video calls to family and friends. And just like anything else, after putting one foot in front of the other (sometimes literally when it came to trying to walk again), I was finally going home to finish my recovery.
I’m well over a year after the transplant and still in remission. I realize recovery doesn’t just end. This process keeps going and that’s why support from people who understand you is so important. I’m grateful for my cancer community, queer community, and the LGBTQIA+ cancer community I’ve found.