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Meet Your April Butterfly Buddy: Alex

Meet Alex, your April Butterfly Buddy! Alex would love to hear from you, so feel free to reply to this email with a message of support, and we will forward it to her. 

Alex is an easy going, even-keeled, 21-year-old Vermonter, who keeps herself very busy! She is a full-time massage therapist, a volunteer firefighter, and an aspiring nursing student. To top it all off, she’s the newest Lucy’s Love Bus massage therapist, and had her first pediatric patient this month! 

As you can imagine, sitting still is not something that comes easy for Alex. However, sitting still was exactly what she had to do for months at a time after being diagnosed with AML Leukemia. In September 2018, soon after starting her senior year of high school, Alex wasn’t feeling like herself. Her neck was swollen to twice its normal size, she could barely make it up stairs without feeling exhausted, and she was very sluggish overall - an unusual feeling for the then, three-season athlete. She visited several doctors who downplayed her concerns and put her on antibiotics before her dad, Craig, joined her at an appointment and demanded that they do bloodwork to figure out what was going on with his daughter. That same day, Alex was diagnosed with cancer and started chemo, just one month after turning 18. 

At the end of February 2019, Alex came home from the hospital, believing that she was in remission, but she had relapsed. Soon after, she went straight from her high school graduation ceremony to the hospital to begin salvage chemotherapy treatment, knowing all summer that the only chance she had was to get to remission and then get a bone marrow transplant . When they couldn’t find a match for her bone marrow transplant, Alex went to Boston Children’s for a stem cell transplant. The procedure was on October 11, 2019,  almost one year to the day of her diagnosis.

Throughout her lengthy hospital stays, Alex was a neutropenic patient, and wasn’t allowed to leave her room. She was physically and mentally drained - and “insanely bored.” When she was offered the opportunity to do yoga and massage therapy with Lucy’s Love Bus integrative therapist, Annette, she jumped at the chance. The integrative therapies she received proved to be just the release she needed.

“Seeing someone different, not a doctor, nurse or a family member, who wasn’t telling me what I should or should not be doing; who didn’t care if I didn’t say anything at all, that was the escape that I desperately needed. Annette made me feel like I wasn’t at the hospital. For the time we were together, she made me feel like I was on a vacation,” Alex said. 

Alex is now cancer free, and very recently came off of her daily, oral chemotherapy treatments. Her experience with Annette inspired her to become a massage therapist, and she is now a contracted massage therapist for Lucy’s Love Bus, providing the same comfort and care to sick children that she once received herself. 

“I know the positive impacts - both mentally and physically - that massage therapy had on me when I was sick, and that’s what I want to give back to others,” Alex explains. 

Alex is now slowly regaining her strength through her firefighting training and hiking. She is about to become an aunt - her brother Brenden, and wife, Alicia, are expecting a baby boy in June. The whole family is looking forward to spending the summer together at their family camp. But, between studying for nursing school, fighting fires, and being a hands-on aunt, we don’t expect Alex to sit still and relax too much while she’s there! 

Alex is so thankful for the continued support of the Love Bus community, telling us,
“Because I turned 18 one month before my diagnosis, I didn’t qualify for any other programs that gave me anything to look forward to. Lucy’s Love Bus was my escape during my care and it has helped to shape my future! Thank you!”

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