Brandy Vargas – A Portrait of a ‘Survivor’

Brandy Vargas - 'Survivor'

Brandy Vargas
Diagnosis: January 2006, Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
2A. Confirmed remission August 2006. Relapse symptoms April 2007, confirmed relapse July 2007

Treatment: ABVD Chemo x 6, Rads to chest/neck August 2006. August 2007 – ICE+Velcade x 3 (clinical trial), BEAM + Auto-SCT (MDA) October 2007. Complete Remission since September 2007.

Tell us something about yourself, something you really enjoy in life.
After my stem cell transplant I became a runner. I never ran for fun/recreationally in my entire life. But running empowers me, my lungs feel alive and it reminds me that I am healthy. Since 2009, I’ve completed a handful of 10k races, 2 half marathons, and completed a full marathon in 2011.

What does being a ‘Survivor’ mean to you?
I struggled with this question the most because it means so many things. But for me, being a survivor means being a fighter. Being strong even at your weakest point. Fighting through every chemo treatment, fighting through every test and prod, and even fighting through survivorship. Creating your new normal isn’t easy. You want so badly to go back to the way things were, but you’re in a new place now and you can’t. And to be  honest, I wouldn’t want to go back there now. I love the person I have become simply by being a survivor. I am stronger, more appreciative and more grateful for being given this life to live. And I intend to live it to the fullest!