Alysa Grace's Story:

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Meet: Alysa Grace, In Active Treatment, Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma

“Hello, my name is Alysa Grace. I am a 21-year-old ballerina from California. In December of 2019 I was diagnosed with stage 4 Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). The pain started in August, as a ballerina I assumed it was just a horrible injury. I blamed it on that one time I fell in rehearsal or maybe performing as a dancer with the Opera was too much stress on my body. The pain began to keep me up all night and ibuprofen stopped working. My knee became so swollen that I could barely walk, much less dance. To make light of the situation I named the pain “Kneena”. I was forced to sit out of rehearsals and classes, watching as my colleagues rehearsed the Nutcracker roles I was given. I struggled to keep weight on. I blamed everything on my “injury”.

Little did I know Kneena was the furthest thing from a simple case of bursitis or tendinitis. My diagnosis process was pretty simple compared to most cancer patients. Even untrained eyes like my own could see the bone tumor on my MRI. The biopsy of my Tibia made it official, I had cancer. I spent 11 weeks on crutches recovering from that surgery all while preparing to start my chemotherapy. For DLBCL the typical treatment is 6 doses of R-CHOP, a very intense concoction of chemotherapy drugs. From January 22nd to May 5th, 2020 I went in every 3 weeks for chemo. I lost my hair, flexibility, and muscles necessary for ballet. Due to how large my tumor was I only had a partial response to my chemo. So as of now (September 2020) I am still fighting. I have started 5 weeks of radiation so we can make sure Kneena is fully evicted. My story is not done, I am determined to come out of this with more passion for ballet than ever before. Cancer did not make me a better person, but I am going to make sure it makes me a better artist.”