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At just 13 years old, Sydnee is already woman enough to be Alicia Keys's inspiration. Sydnee was just your average 10-year-old from Savannah, Georgia, when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin's disease—the most advanced stage of the deadly cancer.

When Alicia met Sydnee backstage after a concert, she was immediately struck by Sydnee's positivity. "From this young girl, I learned about bravery, fortitude and a positive attitude," Alicia says.

Like Alicia, Sydnee uses the power of poetry to express her feelings and guide her along the road to recovery. Throughout eight months of intense chemotherapy, Sydnee chronicled her life in a poem book. Towards the end of her treatment, Sydnee wrote a poem called "If Tomorrow Starts Without Me" that said, "If tomorrow starts without me, I want you all to see that I am still here watching over you as you watched over me."

As a sixth grader, Sydnee wrote her first book, The Small But Big Pain, which begins the first day that she discovered she had Hodgkin's. Nurses have used Sydnee's book as a teaching tool for other children recently diagnosed with cancer.

"I want to tell kids about my story with cancer to let them know they're not the only ones that are going through it," Sydnee says.

Sydnee has been in remission for a year and a half, and she says she would like to be an anesthesiologist when she grows up. 
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FROM: Eight Women Oprah Wants You to Know
Published on October 17, 2005

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