HAMBURG, N.Y. -- A young woman from Hamburg who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year is inspiring others through YouTube videos that document her journey.
"I have been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. For those of you who don't know what it is, it is cancer basically of the lymph nodes," explained Alicia Porack on YouTube.
The 22-year-old recorded that video it in April, one week after her diagnosis.
"I first discovered the lump on my neck. That was really the only symptom that I had in January. I was actually at the gym and somebody else noticed the lump. I didn't even know that it was there," says Porack.
After thinking it was just a pulled muscle because she didn't have any other symptoms, Porack was told she has Stage 2A Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
"It's going to be scary, and it's going to be hard, but I'm going to do my best to stay positive and be happy and live my life," said Porack in another one of her videos.
"I stumbled across a couple of girls who had made YouTube videos about their journey through the exact same thing that I was about to go through, so I had watched some of them and I'm like, you know, it would be a really cool outlet for me, maybe, I kind of started just so that I could just get everything out without having to talk to anyone I could just talk and just let all my feelings out and then it kind of just, you know, people started watching them and they're like, oh are you going to make more? Are you going to make more?" Porack says.
She did make more, including one addressing what she says has been the toughest part of going through chemotherapy.
"When I first started, I kind of made a vow to myself that I was going to do, you know, the good, the bad, the ugly. I don't know if you saw the one about me shaving my head, but that one was really, really hard for me to post just because having the world see me do that, it's very personal," says Porack.
Porack shaved her head just days before the Kenny Chesney concert in Pittsburgh, and although she works fulltime as an accountant, is going to grad school, and goes to the gym every day, she was still apprehensive about going to the concert because she had chemo two days before.
"My friend Taylor was like we need to make you a sign. We want to get you on stage. Kenny Chesney brings people on stage all the time and I was like no, no, no I don't want to do that. It's fine. I just want to go watch the concert," she said.
Porack's friends ended up making a sign that says Beatin' Cancer, and they hid it under a shirt to sneak it in.
"And Kenny Chesney saw it. And he was like, oh I see it, I see it and then after his encore he came over and kind of like pulled me up and it was just, it was unbelievable. He basically was like you're beautiful. You're going to be okay. Everything's going to be okay. Just keep doing what you're doing. You're a strong girl. I got offstage and everyone around me was crying and it was just, it was amazing," she says.
Oh, and one other thing, Porack’s friends hadn't seen her without her wig yet.
"That moment where I took it off and went on stage in front of all those people, it was one of the most empowering moments that I've ever had. It was almost just like I don't care what people think of me. It is what it is. Like what do I have to hide at this point. So it was, for as hard as it was, it was so empowering and it was, I'm very, very happy that I did it," she says.
Porack is set to finish chemo in September. She says her next goal is to compete in a fitness competition in Buffalo on April first. That would be exactly one year after her diagnosis.