Since I was 13 years old I've suffered from one illness to another. After a year and a half of doctors telling me I'm making up my pain, anorexic or just suffering from acid reflex- I was finally diagnosed with crohns. This was 14 years ago and at the time the disease wasn't popular. There were not many companies that made gluten free options (a diet restriction that came along with my diagnosis). Unfortunately this was just the beginning of my health struggles. After being placed on medication, after medication to "put my crohns into remission". This is where I saw my body changing in a way that no teenager wishes. The steroids caused excessive water intake changing my face and leaving my body with what I now call my "tiger stripes" (dark purple stretch marks) along both legs, upper arms and sides of my stomach. To make matters even more complicated, I suffered from kidney and gall bladder stones. This lead to many painful nights at the hospital and multiple days of class missed. During my 3rd year at University I had to have my gall bladder removed due to the steroids and stones. In my 4th year of University, I got the biggest shock of my life. I was told that I had cervical cancer and my life was turned upside down once again. I didn't know how to react but I do remember thinking "How can I be sick again with a different issue?", "How is this fair?". I finally began to understand what depression was. I fell into a black hole, not wanting to get out of bed, not wanting to talk to anyone, eat and had the feeling like no matter what things weren't getting better. I was forced by the school to go speak to someone which made the situation worst. I didn't react well to sitting on a sofa and talking to a stranger, each session I would leave more upset than when I got there. I am very thankful for my roommates (and best friends) at school. One told me that not everyone has to do traditional therapy and maybe that's not what I need to become me again. So instead I did what made me happy, focusing on school and determined to graduate with my class. I studied harder than any other year and ended up with the best average I ever had. That motivation along with my two roommates support changed around my situation. They made me see that I am stronger than any illness I have & I wasn't going to let my new cancer diagnosis define me. I was going to be the "stubborn red head" I used to be and beat this, just like I had beat every other issue that came my way since I was 14. I graduated that spring, happy and "relatively" healthy. I still struggle with my crohns from time to time, and since then I've had kidney surgery for a completely unrelated issue. However, my illnesses have taught me that I am bigger and stronger than any diagnosis. I am Alex, and that comes with surgery scars and steroid stretch marks but without my struggles I wouldn't be the person I am today.