The Panda Fight

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My name is Amanda. People call me Panda. I’ve been an athlete my whole entire life. I did a lot of sports, but my love is track and field. I was 21 years old and a senior in college when my life was turned upside down: diagnosed with cancer, ALL Leukemia with a positive Philadelphia chromosome. This leukemia is unique because it doesn’t usually happen in my age group and my doctors had never seen a case like mine. Still to this day they have not seen another case like mine in my age group. 

I was scared, but my mom told me, “Everything will be ok, we are going to pray to our Heavenly Father and let everything you’re feeling into his hands.” So that’s what we did! I took chemotherapy for three and a half years…there were many bumps in the road. I worshipped, prayed, wrote notes to encourage myself, danced, sang in my hospital room and hallways as I walked. I got better! ?? 

I graduated from college while going through intensive chemotherapy. I found a job, became an assistant for Livestrong personal training group for YMCA and an assistant coach for an AAU track team. I got back in shape, trying to run competitively in track and field again. I started grad school. Things were going great!

Then one track practice, I tripped over my feet and fell really hard. I didn’t feel good after that. I finished practice and went home, feeling worse when I got there. I decided to have my mom take me to the hospital. Blood tests were taken and nothing was found, but I knew something was wrong. 

A week and a half went by. I tried to get back into a regular routine, but my body wasn’t acting the same. I couldn’t do what I usually could do. I called my oncology nurse practitioner and told her something was wrong. I asked for a bone biopsy, a spinal tap, and set my appointment. 

Doctors say in five years, if there is no evidence of disease, you are cured. I got a phone call the day after my procedure, which was three days short of my five-year anniversary. “Amanda, it has come back. You have relapsed. The same diagnosis as the first time.” 

After I got off the phone and told my family, I went outside and I made up in my mind, “God you did not bring me this far to leave me. You are not a God that lies or leaves your people. I hear what the doctors are saying, but I know what you can do. You’re the God that says what is impossible with man is possible with God.” I made up in my mind that I am healed already. I’m not claiming sickness! I choose to rest my mind on God’s words in the Bible, worship, and pray. I put my total faith in God. I refused to give up! 

Again, I went through intensive chemotherapy and was put on the bone marrow registry list. I did my bone marrow transplant. A stranger donated their bone marrow to me – a 100% match. Three years later, I am now back to working and in shape. I retired from track and field, so I used pole dancing as my get-back-in-shape tool from chemotherapy both times I was diagnosed with cancer. I really wanted a fun way to get back in shape and not be in the traditional gym setting. 

I have prayed and continue to pray for guidance. I continue to spend time with God, lining myself up for the desire of my heart. I now have my own pole fitness business: Twinsetter! It has taken me five tough years, but I am here and working on growing as a business. I also volunteered at Ronald McDonald House, Moffitt Cancer Center, Imerman Angels, and Be The Match to help others get through what I have been through. Although I’m not in active treatment anymore, I continue to make progress; post cancer and BMT transplant has its challenges as well. I take each day one at a time and work in my purpose God has called me to. Never give up, always fight.

By Amanda Brunson

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