Hi, my name is Arianna Silla and in the summer of 2020 I blew out 23 candles and wished for my health.
On May 1st, after a very long month leading up to my final exams, my first lump appeared on my neck. Little did I know my life was about to change forever. For weeks I didn’t think much of it, many believed that I was in denial. Looking back at the series of events that unfolded, I definitely was. Over the course of 2 months I did a series of tests, scans and surgeries which ultimately led to my diagnosis.
On July 28th 2020, I was diagnosed with stage 2A Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
When I pictured myself turning 23, I could’ve never imagined living through a pandemic, nonetheless getting diagnosed with cancer. Everything I had imagined for myself immediately went out the window. I was no longer a regular 23 year old young woman working towards my second degree, rather in the blink of an eye I became a cancer patient fighting for her life. The rollercoaster of emotions I felt are hard to put into words. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was ready to fight.
I’ve always given 110% whether it was concerning school, soccer, fundraising, friendships or relationships. So this was no different, I let myself feel everything then I checked into warrior mode and there was no turning back from that point on.
My battle against Hodgkin's Lymphoma began on August 6th with my first ABVD chemo treatment. Every two weeks for the next 6 months I would walk into the hospital feeling strong and walk out a shadow of who I was. Over the course of 24 weeks, I completed 12 treatments. After my first 4 treatments on October 7th, my pet scan came back cancer free. The next 8 treatments were hard for the side effects grew worse and worse.
I struggled mentally and physically but through it all I had my family, my friends and the LLSC to help me get through it.
On January 13th 2021, I rang in the new year cancer free. The joy and happiness I felt on that day doesn’t compare to anything I’ve ever experienced. The worst of it was over and still to this day it doesn’t feel real. The girl I was prior to my diagnosis is not the same girl writing this. During my six months of treatment I sat back and watched pieces of myself wither away as I was attached to an IV incapable of doing the things that made me me.
As I sit in front of the screen writing this I’m continuously working at rebuilding the parts of me that I felt cancer had stolen. Cancer has a way of putting things into perspective. Treatment gave me a second chance at life and cancer taught me to never take anything for granted. I was dealt a scary card which allowed me to take a step back and look at my life from a position I never thought I would be in. The presence of cancer and it’s physical side effects is only half the battle. Throughout treatment I had to consistently work towards maintaining a positive mental state which was a battle on it’s own.
When I got diagnosed I chose to fight, I chose my future, I chose my family, I chose my friends but ultimately I bet on myself and that very decision is the reason i’m here today.
I’ve been taking part in the LLSC light the night walk for the past 6 years. My family and I created a team called team united after my grandmother passed away from acute myeloid leukaemia. Our goal in starting a team was to help raise money to find a cure for blood cancer. In the months leading up to my diagnosis my team and I were at a loss. The pandemic was soaring and we were unsure of how to raise money because we couldn’t host our annual bake sale.
Then I got diagnosed and the sign was clear as ever, cancer doesn’t stop therefore neither should we. We organized a virtual raffle, sold over 1000 tickets and raised over 20 000$. The LLSC and specifically Alyssa Brandone were there for me every step of the way.
I’m honoured to be apart of such an incredible community and i’m thrilled to be able to hold my white lantern surrounded by so many amazing people and warriors. My goal in writing this was to hopefully give comfort to a young adult experiencing blood cancer. To whomever it may concern, you can do it.
Allow yourself to feel everything that comes with your diagnosis and then fight as your life truly does depend on it. Today i’m a survivor, but I’ve felt and lived through the fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis. You are strong, you are capable and you will come out on the other side. The goal will always be the same, I am here, I am fighting and I will never stop raising money to help find a cure for blood cancers. I’m living proof that treatment, research and science are vital variables in this fight against cancer.
On that note, whomever may come across this, no matter what part of the world or what stage of life you’re in, and you feel this message resonated with you find it in your heart to write team united in the search bar and donate!