Emily Dawson, a DanceBlue Clinic patient will be participating in her first DanceBlue marathon as a student at the University of Kentucky. Read below to find out more about her experience in the clinic and DanceBlue.

I got involved with DanceBlue through a different path than most people. The first time I had ever heard of DanceBlue was from my hospital bed in December of 2013. I was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer called Osteosarcoma when I was 15 years old and had to go through 9 months of chemotherapy and treatment at the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital. One weekend, while in the hospital, I was able to FaceTime into the actual dance marathon. That weekend I was discharged from the hospital early so I could attend the last couple of hours of the marathon. Experiencing DanceBlue for the first time in person while going through treatment definitely changed me forever. I found it amazing how college students who are already busy enough, spent not just 24 hours, but the whole year supporting kids with cancer.

I love DanceBlue because of how much it changed my whole experience with cancer in a positive way. The hardest part for me going through treatment was the fact that it changes your life so much. I had to leave school for an entire year, I lost my hair, ability to walk because the tumor was in my leg, and I even lost some friends. I remember spending my 16th birthday in the hospital, and the clinic and hospital staff had completely decorated my hospital room with “sweet sixteen” decorations. I had so many people from DanceBlue come visit and hang out with me, it almost made me forget why I was even in the hospital.

I also love DanceBlue because of the people who are involved. I got to know a lot of the committee members while I was going through treatment, and they are all some of the most selfless, and nicest people I have ever met. They would visit me in the hospital when I was receiving treatment, recovering from surgery, or just sit down with me while I was in the clinic to talk. Being in the clinic I was mostly surrounded by smaller kids, so it was nice to have people closer to my age to talk to and hang out with.

I decided to make a team because I wanted to be more involved than just being a dancer. Since DanceBlue helped me so much as a patient, I wanted to return the favor. As a freshman, the most direct way to get involved that I could think of was to start my own team. Everyone on my team has been personally affected by cancer in some way, which makes us so close. A couple of my really close friends who stuck with me through my treatment are on my team and will get to dance with me in February!

DanceBlue and the marathon are special to me because it’s a chance for me to reconnect with so many people. I get to see my doctors, nurses, and patients that I became friends with. I also get to reconnect with all the people I’ve met through DanceBlue. It is also so special because you get to see the result of all the fundraising, planning, and coordinating that goes on all year. I think it’s crazy how much of an impact one day has on so many people!

I realize that I fought cancer and survived, but many kids do not. I am so grateful to be alive and not only attend the University of Kentucky, but be a part of such a great organization with some of the most amazing people I have ever met.