Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Heartwarming Story for the Holidays...A Teenage Star Soccer Player Beats Her Toughest Opponent...Hodgkin's Lymphoma

We'd like to introduce you to Lauren. She is someone who has been in our hearts and prayers over the last year. Lauren is every parent's dream come true. She is wholesome, athletic, intelligent, beautiful and motivated in life. A year ago, Lauren seemed to have a clear path to realizing all her hopes and dreams for the future. For Lauren, those dreams included being part of an exciting soccer season, thinking about college and enjoying her senior year at St. Francis High School in Sacramento, CA.

Nearing the end of Lauren's Junior year of high school, she felt a lump near her collar bone. Her parents took her to the doctor to have it checked out. An ultrasound was ordered and then they waited for the results. I am sure they were thinking there was some simple explanation for the lump, hoping it would be nothing serious. On April 15th, 2010, two days after Lauren's 17th birthday, they received the call that changed their lives. They were told that Lauren had Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Lauren's cancer was found to exist in her lungs, spleen and bones. While this seemed like devastating news, Lauren and her family were told by their oncologist that this cancer was very treatable. Lauren, always trying to keep a good sense of humor and remain strong stated, "Basically my cancer has spread everywhere but my brain and as you may recall from last night's update....I do have a brain."

This was a tough diagnosis for Lauren and her family. It meant that a year which should have been one filled with so much excitement and anticipation would be something very different. Lauren's life would become a maze of doctor appointments, lab tests, chemo infusions and hospital stays. Her days would be full of emotional and physical highs and lows.

Much of Lauren's joy in life had revolved around the sport of soccer. Lauren was the goalie for St. Francis Varsity soccer team as well as a competitive soccer team. Having lymphoma meant that Lauren would surrender her positions and miss her Junior year in soccer, a year when many college coaches scout for the future players. It meant she would give up a part of her independence, something that is so important for teenagers. Having lymphoma meant that the beautiful hair, that framed her face in her senior portraits, would be something that she would lose in the weeks following the beginning of her treatments. Having lymphoma would mean that she took her college SAT exam on a day that she did not feel well. Having lymphoma meant that although she planned and shopped for that perfect dress for the junior prom, when the big day came, she was too sick to attend the event that is the highlight of most girls' junior year. The amazing thing is that, with so many negatives on this list, Lauren decided she was going to fight this battle, hold her head up and BEAT CANCER! "I'm fine" became Lauren's mantra, and, in the end, Lauren has maintained her honor roll status and she is hoping to be able to compete on her beloved soccer teams this year. As for being "just fine".......Lauren truly is...FINE!!!.

In Lauren's own words, "This summer I lost my social life, hair and spot on the team - but I gain so much more." This was her opening statement for her college essay and how amazing is that!!

We were able to follow Lauren on her journey through the beautiful and amazing blog that her mother, Dawn, wrote using "Care Pages". The blog is the story of Lauren, but it is also the story of the faith, love, sorrow and courage of Dawn. Through this blog a community came forward to rally around Lauren and her family and extend to them their prayers, well wishes and also many other tangible demonstrations of their love. You are invited to read Lauren's story. It is an inspiring one, and as you know.....It is always good to read a story with a happy ending!


Jesuit High School Friends Getting Ready to Shave Their Heads in Support of Lauren

The Post Shave Look and Lauren is All Smiles!!

Throughout her battle, Lauren wore an Annie and Isabel gown at times and in these last pictures Lauren wears her gown on a hospital visit that marked the official end of her chemotherapy infusions. She is preparing here for the removal of the line that provided access for these infusions. Her mother, Dawn, jotted down her reflections on having a personal hospital gown and wrote in her Care Page blog:


"Lauren sported her Annie & Isabel gown for the "big day" which stirred up a lot of talk among the nurses and surgeon. I joked that the gown got more attention than Lauren. I tried to capture all the comments while I reflected on how much hospital gowns seem to irritate the medical staff. Funny, this whole time I thought it was just the patients who disliked the scratchy, drab green, see-through-thin, and stained hospital attire. Some of the comments I did manage to capture were 'Wow, so soft.' , 'Ties that stay tied.' , 'It snaps on top, brilliant.', 'A pocket, how perfect.' , 'What a great gift.', and my personal favorite........'These gals are really smart!"

"As a parent I loved the gown because you know it's clean, soft and its appearance brightens a very difficult time. Not to mention the patient feels so special!"

Lauren's last chemotherapy infusion was October 18th, 2010 and her latest PET scan shows that she is cancer free!!!

I want to share with you Lauren's words just prior to her last chemo treatment. It is a true testament to Lauren's strength during this process:

"Dear Chemo,

This relationship has gone on far too long. Six months too long. It's been real. But it's over. Tomorrow is the last time we will see each other. Drop my hair off on the porch..."

Lauren, you have been a true inspiration to so many around you. Your strength and positive attitude throughout this journey have been amazing. We continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers as you begin your adjustment back to being a normal senior high school student. We can't wait to see what the future holds for you as it can only be as great as you already are!!

1 comment:

  1. omg....what an inspiration. I just bawled my eyes out though!!!
    thanks for sharing! Go Lauren!

    ReplyDelete