“Pump, pump, PUMP IT UP!” blasted Joe Budden’s hit as me and my neighbor, Crystal huffed and puffed trying to keep up with the dance moves. You see, we had decided to spend that Summer ’04 afternoon battling to B2K’s You Got Served: Take It To The Streets dance tutorial DVD. Tears flowed from my eyes as I held my stomach with laughter while looking at Crystal kill the chickenhead. Clearly we were ready to take all the streets on the block. (This was ALL her idea) Even back at 12-years-old, that was just Crystal. Crazy. Free. Full of fun. But little did we know that exactly ten years later life would try to take her joy after finding out she had been diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 22.
Fresh out of college, Crystal began to have severe pains that left her in and out of doctors offices. She learned that these pains were Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer that starts in your blood cells. Through tough chemotherapy treatments, the strength of her parents, family and friends, and faith in God, Crystal was able to walk through her challenging journey cancer free and ready to live life with a new and full perspective.
What started out as “the worst news ever” turned into a life lesson for Crystal. She decided to use her story to show others how to heal and get through tragedy.
When I found out I was diagnosed with cancer July 2014 I wanted a way to update everyone on my progress, creating my blog I Have a Purpose. Honestly, it started out as a way to inform all my family and friends around the country of the news without having to make 300 phone calls. The website allowed me to share my experiences with the disease while creating awareness. I really wanted it to focus on others too, so I created a way to let others share their stories and what they believe their purpose is.
Although truly enjoying the heck out of life after cancer, she continues to push toward awareness for others.
I’ve gotten the opportunity to do a couple of cool things because of this platform and have gotten a lot of good feedback from it. I was interviewed by a magazine, featured on a web series, and even got to speak at a pageant. I stopped blogging for a while, but I’m attempting to make a comeback talking about life after cancer. I’m hoping it will continue to have the impact that it did while I was sick! I really just wanted people to understand that they are not their circumstances and that sucky things happen in life, but God helps us grow and learn from them to become even better in the future.
I never saw Crystal ever complain or talk negatively about her situation. From joking about picking new wigs to being grateful for having an appetite to down a Jack -N-The-Box burger, her biggest advice for staying positive has always been her faith.
There were definitely times of frustration, but I wouldn’t say I was ever doubtful. My faith was a strong part of my healing process. A positive attitude goes a long way and I just knew God had so much more life for me to live. Life is hard enough already. Don’t punish yourself more by being around people and things that are negative. I believe that everybody goes through something that will change them forever. Some people’s “something” is worse than others, but you were built for it. It was all written. Use this tough time to discover something about yourself and to become better than you were before.
Always dancing to music to keep her her soul alive, Crystal had two songs that helped her get through her journey the most.
1) Survivor by Destiny’s Child. I was looking forward to singing that after me and cancer ended our relationship haha. 2) Back That Thang Up by Juvenile. That song used to come on a lot when my mom and I were leaving chemo for some reason, and always put me in a better mood. Life after cancer is great! I honestly refuse to complain. Music gives me so much joy and helps me celebrate being alive, moving forward and getting back on track with my dreams.
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as petty, strong and with the most beautiful spirit like Crystal. She taught the world (and me) that YOU define your circumstances instead of letting your circumstance define you. It’s been an honor to watch her kick cancer to the curb and I know she’s going to continue to move mountains with her story. I know I always say I’m proud of you but this is my gift back to how you have changed my life. To check out her site make sure to visit Ihaveapurpose.org.
#letsglow (For Lil’ Saint…and Crystal too)