FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – At the moment, Kevin Alston’s primary health concern is recovering from the right hamstring strain which has kept him sidelined for the past three matches.
Of course, he also has leukemia. But one year after his diagnosis, cancer is merely an afterthought.
Alston can hardly believe it’s been a full year – April 1, 2013 – since he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a treatable but currently incurable form of the disease. For the 25-year-old Revolution defender, it represented a significant milestone and offered an opportunity to quietly reflect on how the past year of his life has unfolded.
“Personally, it was huge,” Alston said. “It’s crazy because I was thinking back on it, and it seems like it went by so quickly. It seems like I can remember a year ago like it was yesterday. But at the same time, when I think about when it was actually going on, it seems a lot longer.”
With regards to Alston’s health, one year has made a world of difference. The aches and pains which plagued him prior to treatment are long gone, as is the confusion and trepidation from those early days following the diagnosis. By all accounts, Alston is thriving both mentally and physically.
One year ago, Alston thought about leukemia morning, noon and night, constantly wondering when he’d recover, what the process would entail and when he’d be able to return to the game he loves. Now, most days, leukemia never once crosses his mind.
Alston continues to live with leukemia, of course, but its effect on his day-to-day life is, as he puts it, “very minimal.” He takes one pill a day and sees a doctor for checkups every two months. Nothing more.
“I really don’t think about it unless something comes up,” Alston said. “Even with my medicine, I don’t even think twice. I take the pill, but I never think, ‘I’m taking this pill for a reason.’ I just take it. It’s just part of my daily routine now. There are some moments when I’ll think about it, but other than that, it really doesn’t affect me that much.”
Instead, Alston keeps his focus on the field. After limping off just 20 minutes into the season opener at Houston, he hopes to be available for selection this weekend when the Revs visit D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Significantly, that’s the venue where Alston made his return from CML last July by taking the field in front of more than 40 friends and family members.
It is perhaps Alston’s most triumphant memory from a rollercoaster year replete with ups and downs. But this past year was only the start. There are many more memories to be made.
“I’m glad it’s a year down,” Alston said. “I hope there’s a lot more to follow.”