By Michaella Lesieur, Staff Writer
Her story will inspire many both on and off the soccer field. Not only is she by night a soccer star, but by day an active law student and a survivor of a chronic illness, all the while balancing the typical life of a college student.
However, her story is far from typical; as 25-year-old law student Kayleigh Ellison was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago as she put her career plans on hold to fight her way through chemo against a brain tumor. With having to put her life on hold Ellison remembers it as a blur. “I remember going into the hospital on June 10 and being diagnosed within the next couple of days. It was all such a blur and being on the anesthesia,” said Ellison “I did not have too many thoughts, I really blame the anesthesia meds…”
Not only is Ellison now a survivor, but the 5 foot 2 inch standing young women is a warrior for having to endure the everyday life she was now forced to face. Crediting her recieval of inspiration from a higher power she tells, “Well my faith is really important to me, and my community…”
“Knowing that everyone is praying for you is really nice. I also received a big source of inspiration from people who have passed on. Linda and Gina are good friends.”
As the midfielder and forward sat down to talk she proudly sported a shirt representing her time with a former soccer coach of hers; one who had suffered from a different type of brain cancer. The bold face letters read “Blondo Strong.”
The Missouri native comes from the small city of Troy and like any college student was nervous for the start of the semester, and to be back on the field again after being gone for so long. “Literally coming to campus not knowing anyone and the stress of law school and being so old was difficult, but playing with a bunch of goofy young woman is what keeps me sane,” said Ellison. “I never thought I would be sitting around doing interviews.”
Overcoming an illness can chip at the body both mentally and physically. “Overcoming the illness was such a weird aspect and the bigger challenge was both physical and mental,” said Ellison. “I did blog posts for a while. The moment dawned on me while playing indoor soccer while in chemo. On the way home I thought an illness is like playing soccer you fall down and you get back up, or wait for the call.”
With her impressive skills and dedication to life it is no surprise Ellison is a successful law student. The illness not only changed her sports, and life but her studies too. “I have to use new memory tricks and a lot of new creative ways to tackle things that are factual,” said Ellison. “Law school requires lots of memorization. I am finding new ways to memorize like a board game that I use in the property class and notecards with something on them that I can remember.”
Advice can go a long way but sometimes the advice can be misunderstood or not the right piece of advice. However, she does not have advice to give, but rather tackles it in a different approach. “It depends on your personality,” said Ellison. “There is no way to give good generic advice because if you know the person it is a lot easier to talk to them about it. Sometimes you are completely off base…”
Many people forget to live in the now and live each day to the fullest; however, Ellison’s inspiring story reminds us to embrace each day. “Sometimes I’m all about it and other times you have a ‘wine me’ day to get passed the inevitable things about your health situation,” said Ellison. “Sometimes to myself I am like ‘dude you have brain cancer live today and in the moment.’”
Now that Ellison is back and stronger than ever her message will motivate her teammates, college students, professors and the community of UMass Dartmouth as she emphasizes, “Do not treat me or anyone else differently…” “If you are going to be sensitive to an ill friend be sensitive to everyone.
Furthermore, words of a friend have spoken wisdom to Ellison, who introduced her to the quote, “All pain is the same only the details are different,” a quote originated by Kevin Powers.
Ellison is a powerful young woman who is going to go far, and her story inspires many to be thankful for what they have, to embrace each day, and to treat everyone as you would want to be. Labels are not important, but rather the person that you are. She believes herself to be an average girl, but to us she is by no manner typical; she is a superb woman because her message invokes courage.