If you’re like Alexa Score, turning 16 years old meant normal things like chasing boys and trying to have as much fun with friends as possible. Unlike most teenagers, however, Score’s life was turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis.
+ Watch Alexa talk about battling cancer.
When we last saw Score, she was starring on MTV’s “WakeBrothers.” Now a professional wakeboarder, we caught up with the 23-year-old to find out how she’s doing now and how she managed to go pro while battling cancer.
ACT: The last time we saw you was on "WakeBrothers." What are you up to now?
ALEXA: While we were filming "WakeBrothers," I was a full-time student at the University of Central Florida and have since graduated with a degree in finance. I'm still living in Orlando and doing some wakeboarding and competing in a few contests, but I'm also working full-time for a real estate firm and volunteering with a local children's cancer foundation, BASE Camp, which provides support for children and their families who are battling cancer. I've also been doing a lot of surfing and training for my first triathlon. I like to stay busy!
ACT: You were diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia when you were only 16 years old. What did that diagnosis mean to you at the time?
ALEXA: Year 16 is a pretty pivotal time for a teen girl's personal growth, so it was certainly a wild experience to throw cancer in the mix. I was busy chasing boys, getting ready for high school gymnastics season, and trying to figure out my identity when it happened. Getting diagnosed with cancer put all of that on hold, and for a while I wasn't able to enjoy any of the simple pleasures of being a kid. Being sick, pale, losing weight, vomiting, having to be driven and physically carried around doesn't do much for teen girl's confidence either. Having so much taken away from me really lit a fire inside me — I was always determined to beat the odds and enjoy life again.
ACT: On top of battling cancer, you became a professional wakeboarder. When did you decide that was something you wanted to pursue?
ALEXA: I grew up on a beautiful lake in Minnesota (Green Lake in Spicer, Minn.), so I've always loved being on the water no matter what the activity — swimming, fishing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, etc. At 14 or 15, I started focusing more on just wakeboarding and began setting goals. When I first got really sick I set a long-term goal of recovering and moving to Orlando to be on the water year-round. It was a crazy goal for a sick cancer patient from a small town in Minnesota in the dead of winter, but that's why I wanted to pursue it and why it was so rewarding when my hard work paid off. But it was always more about just being on the water than "going pro."
Photo: (Jason Lee )
ACT: We have to ask, how are you doing health-wise now?
ALEXA: I feel really good, which is the most important thing. I still have Leukemia, but it is at a controlled level at this time. I take an oral chemotherapy treatment every day, which comes with a number of side effects, but my quality of life is higher than anything I could ask for. The plan is to take this medication for the rest of my life and hope the cancer never becomes resistant to the drug. Just ridin' the wave!
ACT: Now that you've fought cancer and have gone pro in your sport, what's next for you?
ALEXA: My first priority has always been to enjoy life and spend time with the people I love, so I will definitely continue doing that. Since graduation, I've been doing a lot of soul-searching and am still trying to figure out the right career path — and the search continues! But in the meantime I'm really looking forward to doing as much as I can for cancer survivors and their families and just loving life. If you need me, I'll be fishing.
Photo: (Jason Lee)
ACT: For our readers who have friends going through treatment for cancer, what's the best thing they can do to support their friends?
ALEXA: I'd say the most important and helpful thing a friend can do is make sure their friend being treated knows they are emotionally there to support them. I truly believe a healthy and positive mind is the most important element of any recovery, so support and love from friends and family can make all the difference. I gained so much strength knowing I had a family and community that were going to support and stand by me throughout my journey.
If Alexa’s story inspired you to take a stand against cancer, you can find more ways to get involved by checking out the action widgets below.