Blood cancer has affected many factors of my life. It has affected me physically from the countless treatments I had to take which made my once athletic body very weak and my blood counts low. Cancer has had an emotional impact on me, while it made my body weaker, I feel that my I am much stronger mentally from fighting such a deadly opponent. It has affected me personally, my relationship that I have with my family and friends are much different than they were pre-diagnosis. It allowed me to see what was important in life, I have much more compassion for those who are sick or those who are in need of help. I also have much more faith in God, faith is what helped me out of my darkest days and helped me not give up, and I have faith in humanity,
because I see all the good that is done for people in need. When I was in the hospital receiving treatments, I always wanted to be back on the lacrosse field, but being in the hospital made me have a great respect for my medical team. I now aspire to be a doctor so that I can help people, and the fact that I might not be able to play lacrosse at a very competitive level no longer upsets me, because my strength is now focused on becoming a doctor. I’m not where I was physically before cancer, but I’m much stronger mentally, I’m a better person with a much greater appreciation for life.

My high school’s boys’ lacrosse team first was involved with the HEADstrong foundation my freshman year. I didn’t know very much about cancer or the lime-green laces, but it sparked my curiosity. When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the middle of my junior year lacrosse season, I went on to the foundation’s website to learn more. I also wrote my “Story of Hope” on the website a few weeks into my chemotherapy sessions. I became actively involved in the HEADstrong foundation during my senior year of high school.The CNY Empire games girls lacrosse team laced up, the Westfield Field Hockey program, and the Westfield lacrosse program. In the spring the lacrosse teams raised money through “Score for a Cure” and held a HEADstrong play day in April. Throughout the year I enjoy going to the events the foundation holds such as the Phillies game, the Nick Colleluori Classic, and the Limelight Gala.

The most memorable thing that the HEADstrong foundation did for me was visiting me during my stem cell transplant. I was scared about the upcoming procedure, and Mr. and Mrs. Colleluori surprised me with a visit, and shared some wonderful stories. They took eight hours out of their day to drive up in the middle of a snowstorm, it meant the world to me and really brightened my day. From having blood cancer I realize how important it is to have people there for emotional/ financial support. They also gave me a scholarship to help me towards my path to becoming a doctor. The impact that the HEADstrong foundation has made on my life has been extremely significant. I don’t want to give up in my fight because the foundation and people have helped me so much, it makes persevere so that I can give back and help others. Nick Colleluori’s whole life is inspiring to me, not just the time he spent
battling cancer. He was a unique and very special person with a huge heart. His vigor and attitude that he had for life was demonstrated on the lacrosse field at Ridley and Hofstra. He was truly a relentless player that I aimed to be. I was never a natural athlete, I had to work hard to gain my success on the lacrosse field. It was players like Nick that helped push me to work and gave me the drive to succeed. This also is true for the way he fought cancer. He was relentless throughout his entire battle, never once questioning why it was him, and played the cards he was dealt. I use his battle as
inspiration everyday, even now that I am cancer-free. Nick tells us to make use of the time that we have, and not to stress the little things in life. Nick must have been a special person because he has inspired his family members and others to help others in his memory.

Sincerely,
Katherine Frega

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