Alejandro Velez is an 11-year cancer survivor, co-founder of Back to the Roots
and solid advocate for the LIVESTRONG Foundation!
Today only, when you purchase an AquaFarm or Mushroom Kit from Back to the Roots, Alejandro and his team will donate 11% of your order to LIVESTRONG in honor of his 11th Cancerversary and survivors everywhere. Read more about Alejandro’s experience living through and beyond cancer below and visit backtotheroots.com for a unique way to give back this holiday season!
I played tennis and soccer as a kid. When I was 15, I got hurt and ended up going to the doctor. I showed him what I thought at the time was just a piece of fat by my armpit, but it turned out to be a cancerous lymph node (Hodgkin lymphoma). Ten days later I’m on chemotherapy! It was a complete shock, and I didn’t know what to think.
Cancer’s lasting impact:
I think cancer teaches you to appreciate when you have great people in your life, people that encourage you and are positive thinkers. For instance, and I’ll never forget this, when I asked my doctor the first time I met him, “Am I going to die?” his response was to look me in the eye and say, “Hell no!” Just the fact that he said that right off the bat set the tone for how I was going to view my treatment. And so later in life, I’ve made it a point to have people around me that are supportive and positive and work to make me better. For me it’s so interconnected- how I viewed my cancer battle, and now how I approach business.
Advice to my younger self and those facing a diagnosis today and in the future:
You’re not alone. So much of what LIVESTRONG has done is create this platform for people to know that they are not by themselves in this fight. We’re social beings and we feed off of each other’s energy. I was in a small town in Michigan, with just 6,000 people, but I could have reached out. In fact, I learned about LIVESTRONG soon after my treatment was over. We’re not afraid to talk about cancer anymore, but at the time – and especially in the Hispanic-Latino community – it was taboo to talk about health issues. But LIVESTRONG has helped remove that stigma, and so we can reach out and get help when we need it most.
The importance of LIVESTRONG:
Once you hear those three fateful words- “You have cancer”- you’re part of the community. I think LIVESTRONG Foundation EVP Morgan said it best at the Davis Challenge, “The cancer community is the largest non-exclusive group in the world.” Everything from the yellow wristband, to the brand that empowers people to be strong, to the services they provide- it’s that passion that ignites me.
What this 11th “cancerversay” means to me:
I feel so fortunate. While cancer initially brought me down, it also elevated me to become a much better human being. I appreciate things so much more, and I want to be awake and doing things all the time! I want to learn, I want to work hard and I want to make an impact. If it wasn’t for my cancer experience, I don’t think I would have this mindset. So this 11th anniversary allows me to show people that I’m doing what I love, that I’m passionate every single day, that I’m doing it with people I’m excited to be around and that there is great life after cancer.
You know, there’s only so much we can do while we are here on this planet, and cancer or not, life is short. We need to live our lives with passion. Find what motivates you and do it over and over again; through that passion you can motivate others, sometimes without even knowing it.