Katherine Frega

When & How I was diagnosed

In January of 2010, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. I was put on a number of medications to attempt to relieve my excessive joint pain. Months passed, and nothing seemed to be working. I also was playing lacrosse with my club and high school teams throughout my struggle with the pain. It continued to get worse, I wasn’t sleeping at night, I lost a lot of weight, and I had a horrible cold that never seemed to go away. Finally in May, I was scheduled for a CT scan and X ray. It was then that the radiologist found the mass in my chest. The next day I was rushed to the oncologist. There, I had a bone marrow aspiration and chest biopsy done. On May 17, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma stage 2B in my chest.

My experiences with treatment

My initial reaction to being diagnosed with lymphoma was fear. Fear about the future of my life, and fear of cancer. It took a few weeks for me to finally accept that I had cancer, and I realized that my goal was to beat it. I visualized my treatment like a lacrosse game, I had four cycles of chemotherapy, and a lacrosse game has four quarters. However I was at a disadvantage at the beginning of the fight because the lymphoma had been taking hits at my body for so long. It was now my time to fight back, and the fight would not be easy. The first day after chemo I was beat, I felt sick and tired, and I had to be wheeled out of the clinic in a wheelchair. But as each day and each treatment passed I became stronger. I soon was able to walk without pain, and the swelling in my hands disappeared. My doctors were amazed at my positive attitude, and my recovery. It was expected that I was going to need blood products for when my blood counts were down during t  he end of my cycles. But right now I have finished my third cycle and I still have not needed any blood. I believe this is do to my inner strength and my faith. Nobody wants to have to go through chemo, but I figured I would make the most of my treatment and stay positive.

What I have learned

I learned about all the people who are affected by cancer. When I went to my clinic, there were plenty of children there who were going through chemo, and unfortunately some have a worse prognosis. I learned how to value the important things in my life, such as my family and faith. The most important thing to me used to be playing lacrosse, and because I was diagnosed with cancer I was missing my rising senior summer season in order to be recruited. However, after battling with cancer and not being able to play for a while, I realize that while lacrosse is a “healing game”  there is also much more to life.

How I am feeling now

I am just about to begin my fourth and final cycle of chemotherapy, and I feel better than I have in months. I feel my strength coming back everyday, and I am back to my normal weight again. I sleep soundly at night, and I have virtually no pain in my joints.

How I got involved

I read lacrosse magazine and found an advertisement for the HEADstrong foundation, and I wanted to share my story.

My thoughts

I have much more empathy for people who are battling any health problem.  I don’t let the little things bother me. I have so much to be thankful for just waking up and seeing the blue sky everyday.  I have grown as a person, learned the true meaning of perseverance, and have strong faith in God.