Alexa Score was shocked to learn she had chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). But seven years later, the pro wakeboarder is living the life of her dreams—and owes much of her success to cancer!
Five years after Alexa Score found out she had a form of cancer she would be battling for the rest of her life, she stepped out into the ocean—and the start of her career as a professional wakeboarder.
“It’s crazy to look back and remember how much my life changed in those five short years,” Alexa, now 23, says. “I went through so much. That period of my life played a big role in sculpting me into the person I am today.”
It all began when Alexa’s bones and joints started to hurt when she was 16. Blood tests soon led to a life-altering diagnosis: chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a cancer of the white blood cells. “I knew things were never going to be the same,” she says. “I was going to be battling this disease for the rest of my life.”
Fortunately, a strong support system helped her through her treatment. And as she began to improve, Alexa looked for a goal to keep her focused on the future. “I grew up on a lake in Spicer, MN,” she recalls. “When I got sick, I just wanted to be able to get back on the water. Wakeboarding was something I loved, and when I began to feel better I realized I could make my dream of going pro a reality.”
In 2011, her rookie year, Alexa competed in the Queen of Wake Tour—the world’s elite professional women’s wakeboarding series—going on to place ninth overall! “It was my proudest moment since the first time I was back on the water after being sick,” Alexa says. “It was symbolic of my recovery and made me feel like I was officially back to ‘myself’ again.”
“It’s important to take it one day at a time,” she adds. “Most important, never let the disease define who you are. Don’t ever think you can’t accomplish something or be the person you want to be because you have cancer.”
Today, Alexa inspires others living with CML to not let the disease hold them back.
Here are her top tips for thriving with CML:
Stay active. “My wakeboard goals helped me stay positive and healthy,” Alexa says. A medical review by the American Cancer Society has shown that exercise can improve energy levels and overall health in patients with CML.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. “If anything, having cancer has taught me not to take wakeboarding (or anything) too seriously,” Alexa says. “I try to keep things in balance. When all is said and done, life is good.”
Keep on top of your meds. “Right now I take a daily dose of oral chemotherapy and will likely have to be on this medication for the rest of my life,” Alexa says. “I’ve made taking it a part of my routine so I never forget.”