Different forms of blood cancer are responsible for claiming the third most lives out of all the types of cancer. Additionally, there are currently no known preventative treatments for blood cancers, and the disease also impacts children and young people more than any other form of cancer.
When it comes to discussions about different forms of blood cancers – leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma – the prospects often seem pretty bleak. Although the fight against blood cancers has been fraught, and although there is still plenty of work left to be done in this arena, there’s certainly still hope.
We’ve compiled a collection of four different stories about individuals who have been inspirational in their fight against blood cancer.
Maybe it’s a combination of hard work and the positive attitude embedded in her name, but cancer survivor Sarah Happy has recently completed the most daunting physical challenge of her life so far, her first half marathon. While some individuals have certainly run farther and faster than Sarah did in the recent Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, her accomplishment is nothing to balk at, especially considering that Sarah has survived cancer not only once, but twice.
Sarah was originally diagnosed with lymphoma shortly after she’d finished college. She could feel a lump on her arm, and after further investigation, physicians discovered that the lump was lymphoma. Sarah underwent six months of chemotherapy and two months of radiation, and at the end of her treatment, Sarah was cancer-free. That is, until a routine pap-test a year later revealed that Sarah now had cervical cancer. Following two more successful operations, Sarah was again cancer free. Running a half marathon was never part of Sarah’s plan. Originally, she was just hitting the gym in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But after some prodding from her trainer, Sarah decided to pursue running more seriously and eventually also became a Runner for Research, a program that allows race participants to raise money for the American Association of Cancer Research. Thankfully, cancer is behind Sarah now, as is her first half marathon, but it certainly looks like her future will be bright.
Read a more in-depth interview with Sarah Happy at 6ABC.com.
At the age of only 16, Maddi Delaney was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia shortly after returning from representing New South Wales in volleyball. Being diagnosed with cancer can drastically change anybody’s life, but it can be especially difficult to cope with during the already tumultuous years of adolescence. While it could have been easy to fall into despair, Maddi put up a fight. Maddi was diagnosed with leukemia after seeing a doctor due to tonsillitis-like symptoms. Although she appeared fine and didn’t present with many of the normal symptoms such as bruising, a hematologist discovered the abnormality in her blood. An oncologist quickly confirmed Maddi’s diagnosis and she began chemotherapy five days later. Following a year of intensive treatment, Maddi is now free of cancer.
For Maddi, ridding her body of cancer wasn’t enough. Maddi has spoken publicly about her fight against leukemia in an attempt to raise awareness and funding for additional research into the disease. Most recently, Maddi shared her story at the Sony Foundation’s Wharf4Ward and helped raise over 1.3 million dollars for cancer patients between the age of 15-25. Maddi is still on track to complete her education and plans on pursuing a career as a journalist.
Read more about Maddi’s battle with leukemia at The Daily Telegraph.
Kathleen’s battle with blood cancer began with some fortunate circumstances; doctors were able to catch and then diagnose her cancer fairly early. Aside from that, there wasn’t much else for the senior lacrosse player to celebrate. Kathleen was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma which is an incredibly rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma; only about 1% of NHL patients develop the disease. The diagnosis was difficult for Kathleen. She was a very healthy individual and a committed and hardworking member of Villanova’s lacrosse team. Kathleen actually realized something was wrong during practice and conditioning. She began experiencing incredible pain in her arm and limited ability to move it followed by swelling of a lymph node shortly after. These initial signs led her to seek the treatment that produced her diagnosis.
Following her diagnosis, Kathleen announced to her team that she would be sitting out for that year’s season. Her teammates were obviously devastated, as Kathleen is a beloved and central member of the team. Rather than embarking in typical treatment, Kathleen participated in a clinical trial at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that required her to undergo intense bouts of chemotherapy and then remain in-patient at the facility for a five-day period. Because Kathleen was young and in excellent physical condition, she was a prime candidate for this treatment. Kathleen was able to return to Villanova for classes and practices in the winter of 2017, only a few months after beginning her aggressive treatment regime. Although she was cancer-free, her body was incredibly weakened.
Kathleen continued with her studies and began an intense training program to get back into shape. By the time the next season rolled around, Captain Kathleen O’Connor was ready to take the field as a member of Villanova’s defense. In addition to fighting cancer and returning to her status as a Division I athlete, Kathleen was also awarded the Nicholas E. Colleluori award at the seventh annual HEADstrong Lime Light Gala in Philadelphia. Kathleen’s story is certainly inspirational, not only because of her successful treatment, but also because of the persistence she demonstrated throughout the process.
Check out more information about Kathleen’s battle with lymphoma at US Lacrosse Magazine.
When she was only 2 years old, Montana Brown was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. She recovered from the cancer and was healthy for nearly 13 years. But then, when Montana was 15, she experienced a remission of the disease and had to undergo treatment again. Montana and her family had just moved and she was already dealing with the difficulties of adjusting to a new school. On top of that, she was also told she would have to stop cheerleading in order to undergo treatment. Although her situation was bleak, Montana recounts fondly the great treatment she received at Aflac Cancer Center.
Now, nearly 9 years later, Montana Brown is back at Aflac Cancer Center, but this time she’s working as an oncology nurse and gratefully cancer-free. Montana’s experience both with the staff at Aflac and as a cancer survivor inspired her to study nursing in college. Montana knew that she wanted an opportunity to give back to other individuals who were experiencing the same challenges she had. After successfully completing a degree in nursing studies from Augusta University, Montana began working at Aflac Cancer Center. In a delightful turn of events, some of the staff members who had helped treat Montana work at Aflac still, and she’s been glad to have the chance to join their team.
You can read more about Montana Brown at Today.com.
Although blood cancer certainly presents a whole range of challenges that have yet to be overcome, the situation isn’t without hope. Sarah, Maddi, Kathleen, and Montana are only four stories out of countless individuals who had successful treatment against the disease and have gone on to become powerful advocates. Even when situations look grim, stories like these remind us that there is always hope.