My daughter, Olivia Vach (Liv) is 16 years old and a Junior at Patterson Mill High School in Bel Air, Maryland. She is a very high-spirited, kind and active teenager. As any normal teenager, Liv enjoys spending time with her friends. A big part of her extracurricular time is spent on the field hockey field as she plays for the Patterson Mill High School team. This past Spring, at the end of her sophomore year, she complained of significant pain in her shoulder, which we initially attributed to a possible injury sustained from playing field hockey. After a few days, her pain increased and we took her to the doctor. It was determined through a chest x-ray that she had a substantial mass in her upper chest just above the heart in her lung cavity. We were referred to the University of Maryland Medical System’s Oncology Unit where she underwent a biopsy on June 4th. The diagnosis was Hodgkins Lymphoma. The team of Doctors advised that she should undergo chemotherapy treatment, followed up by radiation therapy. This treatment was designed to reduce the mass and ultimately kill the cancer cells within the tumor. After careful consideration, we decided that we would proceed with the course of treatment that was recommended to us.
Olivia started chemotherapy on June 9th and continued with a total of four 21 day cycles that lasted throughout the summer. Once the chemotherapy was completed, in Mid-August, she took a 4 week break and then began radiation treatment on the 14th of September. Despite undergoing this treatment, she was able to begin her Junior year of high school. Her radiation was scheduled for Monday through Friday. She attended school every day followed by a trip to the hospital every evening for radiation.
She completed her radiation treatments on October 9th. A few weeks later, she had a follow up PET-CT scan which showed that the cancer was no longer active. An additional, unrelated finding from that scan showed a malrotation in her upper intestine that needed to be repaired. It was determined that the best course of action would be to make the repair to her intestine during the same procedure where they would be removing the port from her chest that was used to administer her chemotherapy.
On November 19th, Liv underwent surgery to reposition her intestine and colon and remove the port from her chest. This should mark the end of any major treatments or surgery for Olivia. There will be routine follow up visits and PET-CT scans to ensure that Olivia remains Cancer free.
Through this entire process, Liv was incredibly strong. At the very beginning, following the initial diagnosis, she showed tremendous strength and courage. Even when undergoing treatment and enduring all of the dreaded side effects (including the loss of her hair), she never complained. She never said, “this isn’t fair” or “why me”, which would be a very normal question to ask. She remained as optimistic as possible and carried on with as much activity as she could handle. She adjusted seamlessly into her Junior year of High School and achieved a 4.0 GPA during the first quarter, while still undergoing treatment. We have all learned so much from her courage, perseverance, tenacity and general love of life. We are very proud of Olivia.
We look forward to her complete recovery and to watch her live a healthy, happy and successful life as she moves forward into the future.
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