As a National Youth Affiliate for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Sigma Alpha Lambda Chapters all over the country raise thousands of dollars every year to make a difference in the fight against cancer. Why do we Relay? Its for people like Cashea, a SAL member and student at Northern Arizona University. This is her story:
“I was in my sophomore year of college at Northern Arizona University and I felt like I couldn’t concentrate. I kept having night sweats and fevers. Then I started losing weight without reason and having this barking cough. I went to doctor after doctor and because I was an otherwise healthy 20 year old, they put it off as a cold or flu. It took almost 7 months of my health
getting worse until I finally started getting answers. I went back to my original family doctor and she ordered a simple chest x-ray. When she came back to talk to me about the results, she was white as a ghost. She said I had a 12×13 mass in my chest. She had no clue what it was, but from her
experience, she sent me for a biopsy. I knew when I was done with the procedure that it was cancer. Nobody physically told me, but the look in their eyes said it all.
“A few days later, the official results came back as Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. They had to run more tests including an incredibly painful bone marrow biopsy, PET scans, ultrasounds, tons of blood work, and x-rays. On November 13, 2009, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Primary Mediastinal Diffuse Large B Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
“I went through a battery of tests and started chemo the day before my 21st birthday. I went through 8 rounds of chemo that lasted until June 2010. Once I finished treatment, I was ready to get my life back together. I had to get my classes back on track. My hair started growing back. My brain seemed less fogged and I was back to work full time. Then in August 2010, I went for my
first follow-up scan, just 3 months after finishing chemo, and my cancer had returned. I had to go through the battery of tests again. Bone marrow biopsy, scans, bloodwork, etc. This time I was to go through another 8 rounds of chemo, except they would be done inpatient. I was stuck in the
hospital for a week during chemo. Just as soon as I was let out, the fevers from infection would strike again and put me back in the hospital for another 2-3 days.
“It was a tough fight since it was a harsher chemo but I finally finished and have been in remission since Dec 13, 2010. I continue to go for my scans every 3 months and even though I am still recovering mentally and physically from cancer and it’s long term side effects, I’m now moving on to awareness.
“Until you go through something so hard as fighting cancer, or losing a loved one to this horrible disease, you don’t have a true understanding of how this disease affects everyone. I lost friends because they didn’t know how to support me. I lost family because the struggle of being sick was too much to handle. But I continue to keep moving forward. This is why I participate in Relay for Life. I have met some amazing friends at these events and continue to help raise money because of I know the challenge of going through cancer as a young adult. You don’t know me. You might not ever know me. But now you know my story and I hope that I can challenge you to Relay. The best feeling in the world is knowing that there are complete strangers who participate to make a difference. It’s an ever better feeling knowing that you could participate in honor of one of your own. That is why I Relay.”
Visit Cashea’s Team in Training page here to follow her story.
Join your Chapter’s Relay team! Click here to find your Chapter and register today. If you do not see your chapter listed, contact your Chapter President to see if they are planning to participate.