My name is Rylie York and I am a freshman here at Baylor University! I am a member of Chi Omega and I’m majoring in Journalism with a minor in Nonprofit studies.
I am forever grateful for the impact organizations like Chi Omega and Make-A-Wish are making in the world today. I am proud to tell you that I would not be the person I am today if it were not for my experience with Cancer.
Before my diagnosis, I was a normal high schooler. I started my senior year at Round Rock High School looking forward to starting my fourth year of swimming, water polo and show choir. My life came to a screeching halt on January 25th of 2018 when I heard that forbidden 6 letter word. “it’s cancer…Hodgkin’s Lymphoma…”
Me. I had cancer. I was 18. A senior in high school…and I had cancer.
I was diagnosed Stage 4b Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I began chemotherapy treatment in the beginning of my diagnosis, being treated inpatient for serious and risky reasons, and later received all of my care in the outpatient clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
I was completely removed from the only life I had ever known. I had no idea that the last time I would walk the halls of Round Rock High School, would be my final farewell to the school that had shaped me into the young woman I am today.
On February 25th, only one month after my diagnosis, I lost my hair to this wicked disease. As a senior in high school, I was forced to shave my head after watching my hair fall out first in strands and then clumps. In all honesty, my most favorite physical attribute about myself was now gone. What was I supposed to do with that?
I am here today to tell you that though bald is scary and confusing and sad. Bald is courageous. Bald is new, and bald is beautiful.
After experiencing a long journey with cancer for the three months and preparing for a new life in college I was declared CANCER FREE.
As I prepared to come to Baylor I discovered a new lymph node in my neck and found out the cancer had returned. I spent all of my first semester in college traveling to Houston on Fridays for chemotherapy treatments and radiation during winter break.
Throughout my cancer journey I have kept a personal blog about my experience, my faith, and the support I had along the way. I wanted to share a part of something I wrote
about the overwhelming support and community I felt, amidst the brokenness, that Baylor University and the women of Chi Omega gave me:
“A SEED WAS PLANTED THE FIRST DAY I STEPPED FOOT ONTO BAYLOR UNIVERSITY’S CAMPUS AS A COLLEGE FRESHMAN. CANCER SEEMS LIKE NOTHING WHEN I STOP AND TAKE A MOMENT ON A DAILY BASIS TO THANK GOD THAT I AM EVEN STANDING ON BAYLOR SOIL. EVERY DAY THAT I GET WALK IN THE SHADOW OF PAT NEFF IS A DAY THAT BRINGS PRAISE TO MY GOD. EVERY DAY THAT I GET TO ATTEND CLASS IS A DAY THAT BRINGS PRAISE TO MY GOD. EVERY DAY THAT I WAKE UP TO THE SUN OR RAIN OUTSIDE MY DORM WINDOW IS A DAY THAT BRINGS PRAISE TO MY GOD. WHEN I FIRST STARTED SCHOOL THIS SEMESTER THE COMMON QUESTIONS REGARDING HOME SICKNESS BEGAN TO SURFACE FROM INDIVIDUALS WHO ASKED ME HOW SCHOOL WAS GOING. THERE ARE MOMENTS WHEN I MISS HOME, MISS MY FAMILY, AND MISS THE COMFORT OF UNDERSTANDING THAT ACCOMPANIES LIFE BEFORE COLLEGE. BUT I WOULDN’T TRADE THE SUPPORT AND LOVE I HAVE EXPERIENCED FROM BEING A BAYLOR STUDENT FOR ANYTHING. BAYLOR HAS BEEN A LIGHT THROUGH THIS NEW DIAGNOSIS AND I CANNOT PUT INTO WORDS HOW THANKFUL I AM TO BE A PART OF THE BAYLOR FAMILY. THANK YOU TO THE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE MADE THIS NEW PLACE A HOME. YOU HAVE BROUGHT LOADS OF JOY AND LOVE INTO CONFUSING AND TROUBLING TIMES. I AM ENDLESSLY GRATEFUL FOR YOU AND FOR BAYLOR. THIS PLANTED SEED IS BLOOMING IN WAYS SHE NEVER THOUGHT WERE POSSIBLE.”
Chi Omega, Make-A-Wish foundation, and other organizations like them are the reason I stand here before you today. I am alive because of the money raised however many years ago, and the knowledge and technology provided now, to pave a new road for cancer research before us. This work done by this philanthropy provides lifelong memories for children and their families going through journeys similar to mine. I am honored to be a member of an organization that is working towards happiness in the sadness and beauty in the broken.
College life as the “girl with cancer” has been an experience I never thought I would have. Did I think I would start my freshman year with a buzz cut? Nope. Did I think I would have to continue treatment almost every weekend of the semester in order to keep ridding myself of this disease? Absolutely not. But thank the Lord I did. Thank the Lord I am the girl with and who had cancer. She is changed, and she is renewed. Her life is safe, and she is forever grateful to you.
Make-A-Wish, you have my heart.