An update from Katherine Frega

When & How I was diagnosed

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma stage II B on May 17, 2010. I have already shared my story of hope on Headstrong’s website, but my struggle with cancer has come a lot farther than I mentioned in my previous story. In my last story, I had finished up the original four rounds of chemotherapy that were prescribed. After I was finished, I had my scans done and I was ready to move on to radiation. I was already tatooed for radiation when the oncologist called after reviewing the scans, the lymphoma was still active and I needed more chemotherapy. This was truly heartbreaking news for me and my family.

The next two rounds of chemo required me to stay overnight on the hospital’s pediatric oncology wing, because it was  a continuous infusion for a week. The days were long, lonely, and tiring in the hospital, but once I got home, I felt a lot better. I was ready to start my senior year and play field hockey with my high school team, but unfortunately my blood counts were not stable enough to be in school and I could not play due to my apheresis catheter.

While my blood counts were recovering from the second round of treatment, I had a stem cell apheresis. In which, they harvested my stem cells and would freeze them just in case I would need them in the future. Then I had more scans done. After my oncologist reviewed these scans, there was still activity in the mass. I kept my faith, and prayed that it was just an inaccurate scan. I had a biopsy done that required an invasive surgery in which my right lung had to be deflated so that a video camera could see the mass while they were performing the biopsy. The oncologist called this morning and said that there was no sign of Hodgkin’s in the mass, and I would be moving on to radiation. Sure enough, my hope and positive mental attitude rid my body of the disease.

My experiences with treatment

When you go through chemotherapy, the worst part is not being able to being around the ones you love. I really missed my family and friends when I had to stay at the hospital, and the side effects you get from chemo (nausea, fatigue) only make it worse. However, I was able to bounce back after every round of chemo because I felt the need to be happy despite all the bad news. I never needed a blood transfusion in all of my treatment of lymphoma.

What I have learned

I have learned that keeping a positive mental attitude in the face of a conflict causes other people to be inspired. Many of my friends on multiple occasions have been amazed by the hope I had throughout my experience with cancer. It caused them to start appreciating all that they have in life, instead of worrying about all the little problems.

How I am feeling now

I am feeling great. Even better than I did at this time last year. I am keeping my chin up and maintaining a positive attitude.

How I got involved

I had initially seen an advertisement in Inside Lacrosse Magazine. Since then, I have laced up many of the teams that I am involved in. The Central NY Empires team sported the lime green “relentless laces” as well as my field hockey team. The lacrosse teams at my high school are looking forward to supporting HEADstrong this spring.

My thoughts

I appreciate every life has to offer, and I live everyday to its fullest potential.