Lexi Evarts, a student at the University, has “Meet any Marvel actor” on her bucket list. It’s interesting, since many would consider her a superhero herself. At the age of 21, Lexi beat one of the rarest forms of cancer.
Looking at Lexi, one would never know she was a survivor of Ewing’s sarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer. She has short hair many might assume is a trendy haircut. Her eyes are a bright blue that show no signs of pain, despite what she’s been through.
She was just a normal student who spent her days going to classes and studying in her dorm. Her life revolved around school.
“I was your average everyday college student. I was always stressed out. I was constantly focused on getting stuff done,” Lexi said.
Little did she know, studying for exams would be the least of her worries. During finals week her sophomore year, she went to an appointment that would change everything. She’d been suffering from a severe pain in her hip and tried many things to relieve it. She went to chiropractors, physical therapy, pain clinics and had an sacroiliac joint injection in her hip, but nothing seemed to work. It was finally recommended she have an MRI done.
“It was finals week. I had emailed my professor and said, ‘I’m going to come to your office hours at 2:30.’ (The doctor) called me back when it was done and told me that something was there, he just didn’t know what,” Lexi said.
She figured it wasn’t a big deal. The only thing on her mind was talking to her professor about her exam the next day.
“I was annoyed. I had to make it to these office hours,” Lexi said.
The following day, she went back for a biopsy. It was then explained to her family that the pain in her hip was from cancer. From there on, Lexi and her family searched for the right hospital to undergo treatment. They settled on the University of Michigan’s hospital, where a doctor explained her cancer was Stage IV and had spread to her lungs.
“That’s when I got upset. I realized Stage IV was bad. I thought this isn’t just cancer; it’s cancer-cancer,” Lexi said.
She did five months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. Her cancer was so aggressive she had to do chemotherapy five days a week for eight hours a day. She’d get a week off and return to receive chemotherapy for 72 hours straight.
She handled chemotherapy well, never getting sick, which is rare for chemotherapy patients. The only real side effect she had was constant exhaustion. During her time in the hospital, she became Reddit famous by sharing her story.
Those posts on Reddit are what led the founders of One List One Life, a company devoted to helping cancer patients complete their bucket lists, to contact her. They’ve made it their mission to help Lexi complete all 36 items on her bucket list. So far, with their help, she has been able to swim with dolphins, help paint a mural, visit Redwood National Forest, meet Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara from Buzzfeed Unsolved and many others.
Lexi acknowledges she wouldn’t have been able to put up such a good fight if it wasn’t for some of the amazing people in her life. One of those people is her boyfriend of two years, Jay Conner. They had only been dating for six months when she was diagnosed.
“I was not scared at all. I wasn’t going to leave her for that reason; I was going to be by her side no matter what. I told her she’s got this. I knew if I was sad, that it would make things worse on her part, so I decided to be consistently happy,” Conner said.
Lexi’s stepmother, Jamie Evarts, said it wasn’t just the people in her stepdaughter's life that made the whole ordeal easier. It was Lexi herself.
“She was positive most of the time. She made her disease easier (for us). Her being so positive was a gift she gave to her parents,” Jamie said.
Earlier this year, Lexi received the news she was cancer-free, news that not only changed her perspective on life but those who were around during her fight. Her stepmother feels her own life has been changed forever too.
“I’ve learned to find the joy in each day with my kids and husband. I want to be with people more. I am so honored to have been apart of Lexi’s story; I want Lexi to fulfill her life and have a purpose and passion,” Jamie said.
Being cancer-free has allowed Lexi to really think about what she wants to do with her life. When she was diagnosed, she was told she had a 17 percent chance of survival and is so grateful to be here today.
While nothing is set in stone, she said she knows no matter what she will continue to advocate for childhood cancer.
“One in five children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive,” according to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Lexi hopes to keep educating the public about childhood cancer to ensure more lives are saved.
“Childhood cancer does not get enough recognition. Childhood cancer gets 4 percent of the billions of dollars (raised for cancer). They’re focusing on what causes cancer, instead of focusing on the children that have it now,” Lexi said.
Lexi has been cancer-free since April and is ready to get back to normal and return to everything she had to put on hold for the last year. While it is uncertain if she will have to undergo treatment again, there’s one thing her stepmother and boyfriend can agree on: no matter what happens, she will be ready to fight again and beat it once more.