Almost Losing Your Life at 21


How I got diagnosed with leukemia and septic shock, hours before losing my life.

My summer started out great. I had just finished my junior year of college and was headed to Washington, D.C to do an exciting HR internship that promised a summer of traveling and new experiences. I was in, without a doubt, the best shape I had ever been in, in my life. I woke up at 5 AM every morning, did intense CrossFit style workouts, had breakfast, and headed to work. I had solidified a strong routine and was ready to take on the world. In addition, I had just been signed to a modeling agency, and I was beginning to check significant goals off my list.

I got to D.C and everything started out well. I was a little stressed working out all the living situation and transportation kinks, but other than that, I felt good.

However, everything began to change after my 21st birthday on June 12th. Without any crazy partying, as the stereotype suggests, I came down with a sore throat that was incredibly swollen. It was difficult to swallow and even breathe somewhat. Moving forward, I went to an urgent care clinic, and they told me I had mono. The only real way to fight mono is to sleep it off in bed. So, for the next four days I laid in bed and “fought” mono. Up to this point, I was still taking care of myself, sleeping a lot and still eating. Even a shower every other day.

One night, thirsty for a drink of water, I walked out to my kitchen to try and grab a bottle of water. However, me being in a delirium, my roommate was trying to talk to me. He immediately took me to the ER. Less than a few hours later, with my vision and memory fading and intensifying, I was diagnosed with septic shock, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute kidney disfunction, cardiomyopathy, etc. the list goes on. My body was shutting down.

I’ve reflected back a lot on this moment and frankly, it’s lucky I am alive today. Within those few hours, the team rushed me to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. They saved me truly. I am so grateful to be alive.

If you are interested in learning more, I have completed a TEDx Talk discussing my entire experience and what I have learned. Also, you can reach out to me on my Instagram: @williamyank for the most up-to-date information on what is going on with my journey and life!

ABOUT William


  • Indianapolis, IN


  • Leukemia

Primary Treatment

  • Immunotherapy

Primary Cancer Center

  • Other


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