Alisa Kleybanova is spending her 22nd birthday in Italy receiving treatment for cancer.
The Russian tennis player, who reached a peak of No. 20 in the WTA rankings earlier this year, revealed in a letter written to her fans that she's battling Hodgkin's lymphoma. Despite her ongoing treatment and uncertain prognosis, Kleybanova strikes an uplifting, hopeful tone in her note.
Hello everyone :)
It's my birthday today and I want to thank all of you for the wonderful messages. I haven't written anything for a long time about why I haven't been on tour, so that's why I'm writing this today.
It's not an easy time for me right now. I've been a bit unlucky with my health. I have Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer. I've been having treatment in Italy and it has been going well, but it takes lots of patience and I've had to be really strong to go through this. The good news is after I do treatment for a few more months, if I feel well, there's a chance I'll be able to play tennis again. I really miss playing - I miss seeing fans and friends around the world, I miss hitting the ball, I miss everything. Tennis has been my life for the last 15 years.
There are a few reasons I'm undergoing treatment in Italy. First, I have a training base and many close friends here, so it's like home. Second, they have a really great hospital here that specializes in this problem; I've been going there since the problem started, so the doctors know me well. It's the best place for me to be - the surroundings help me stay strong.
I am a strong person. I've shown it before. Obviously this is different than anything I've ever experienced, but after this is over my life will be even better than before. This is the toughest time in my life, and I hope it always stays the toughest time in my life. I'm sure I'll be able to overcome this - it's just a matter of patience and time.
When this is over, everything will be even better than before.
Of course, even though I'm in treatment, I hope I'll have a fun birthday today :) I'm really happy I have the best and most important people with me here today. My family and best friends are all here. They're here all of these days and weeks helping me get through this.
Anyway, I wanted to write to you all because it has been a long time... I won't be on tour for a little while, but I will see you all again soon :)
We should all hope to be so strong during such difficult times.
Don't be sad for Alisa Kleybanova because she isn't sad for herself. Be hopeful, wish her well and plan on keeping her at her word. We'll see her again soon.