Alyssa’s story begins with what looked like the end, when she wondered, Could this really be it ?… How can my life be over when it’s just beginning?
Now an inspiring writer and speaker, Alyssa shares the extraordinary story of how she overcame insurmountable odds when at only 31 years old she was given the crushing news that she was in Stage IV of one of the rarest and most aggressive types of cancer known and given a less than five percent chance of survival. She’d just run her best time in a half-marathon and never felt better. With less than 65 cases of large-cell cervical neuroendocrine cancer ever documented and few successful outcomes known, it seemed impossible that this vibrant, long-time runner and Physician Assistant could go from being in the prime of her life to the fight of her life overnight.
But Alyssa was no stranger to tragedy. Having already lost her younger sister a few years earlier, the shock of her diagnosis was compounded by what seemed an impossible second blow, that tragedy could strike her and her family again. But as loved ones huddled close, bracing for the worst but praying for a miracle, they watched with amazement as Alyssa seemed to transform before their eyes. As she progressed through an emergency hysterectomy with no children of her own yet, multiple rounds of high-dose chemotherapy and two consecutive bone marrow transplants, her inner light seemed to shine brighter, not dimmer, in the face of such staggering odds. When others might have thrown their hands up in despair or defeat, Alyssa truly came alive.
But it was Alyssa’s faith and courage that deeply touched the hundreds of people who followed her journey through the email “updates” she shared as she moved through her treatments—including eight months of “house arrest” as her immune system rebooted after her transplants. Alyssa’s candid, uplifting and deeply-personal blog became an intimate chronicle of her brave pilgrimage as she faced things most of us hope and pray we never have to and yet chose to see her devastating circumstances, not as a tragic twist of fate, but as an opportunity to begin again. And as people read her words, they began to recognize versions of their own stories within hers–their struggles, their worries, their hopes–all were threads of a common cord. As Alyssa struggled to triumph over tragedy, to find healing within brokenness and to choose faith over fear in her darkest hour, they too recognized a universal call to rise above our circumstances and become more than we ever thought possible.
Alyssa’s humble “realness”, her infectiously optimistic attitude, despite what she’s faced, and her beautiful, vivacious presence make it hard to believe all she’s lived through. Yet they are a testament to her character and the enduring strength of the human spirit. She exemplifies what it truly means to thrive, and not just survive, in the face of life’s greatest challenges and is living proof that miracles can and do happen.
So what looked like the end for Alyssa was just the beginning, a beautiful new beginning, and she now reaches out to help others by sharing her unique perspective, hard-earned insights and the choice she made that turned it all around. And by using her story as a powerful example, she encourages others to view the challenges of their own lives, physical or otherwise, in bold, new ways as she dares us to believe that, no matter what it looks like, Something beautiful is happening™.
Alyssa is currently working on a book about her story.