Aramis Ayala, a former Assistant State Attorney and Public Defender shares why beating cancer at 24 made her into who she is today.
By Aramis Ayala
Cancer did not kill me, but it tried. At the tender age of 24, cancer changed my life forever. It helped to shape my mind, my focus and my commitment to a life of purpose and a destiny to serve. May 1999 was final exam period during my second year of law school.
While studying for exams, I noticed swelling on the left side of my neck. A few weeks later I learned that the swelling was a deadly malignant tumor. The doctors diagnosed me with lymphoma- a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic symptom.
The tumor grew so rapidly that within days of the initial diagnosis, I found myself in the hospital operating room for an emergency tracheotomy to prevent the tumor from suffocating me.
The scar from this surgery remains quite visible today and serves as my personal reminder of how precious life is. Instead of moving on to complete my final year of law school, I spent the next year in and out of the hospital receiving chemotherapy treatments. In addition to the scar from the tracheotomy, I also have two very large scars from a bilateral hip replacement I endured in August, 2000 and January, 2001.
Avascular necrosis was a painful side effect I had from the steroids I took in conjunction with the chemotherapy. Avascular necrosis caused the deterioration of my hip bones- leading to surgery and seemingly endless physical therapy appointments to learn to walk again. The hip replacements caused me to postpone the bar examination twice.
Once on my feet, however, I did pass the bar examination and began practicing law as a criminal prosecutor.
My experience with cancer solidified my commitment to use my education and experience to serve people. I realized service was not only a gift, it was my responsibility. I was given a second chance at life vowed to spend that opportunity creating a legacy of truth, integrity, and justice.
Service requires more than just heart. It requires a sharp mind and intellectual capacity to be effective. It requires integrity and accountability. It requires leadership. Most importantly it requires a vision to see beyond your own self and for the greater good of others.
A lifestyle of service goes far beyond a service job. Since surviving cancer, I have committed my life to service.
I serve as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and a friend to many. I served as a mentor with the Paramore Kidz Zone. I have served in my church and countless community organizations as a member and President. I have worked service jobs, as an Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public Defender. In those jobs,
I enjoyed serving indirectly for the people. I am now prepared to serve the people directly with experience, skill, vision, integrity and a commitment to safety and justice.
Aramis Ayala is currently running to be the next Orange/Osceola County State Attorney. You can learn more about her campaign by clicking here.