Cancer Through the Eyes of a Student

By Ophelia Smith

Imagine a dull room, the buzz of doctors surrounding you. Most students have never experienced this, but for Izze Fahl, a freshman at Loy Norrix High School, this was the reality over a period of four months.

In 2016, at the age of 13, Izze found out she has stage 2B Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a type of cancer that forms in the lymphatic system. She spent those months in the children’s ward at Bronson Hospital in downtown Kalamazoo.

Being a long term patient at the hospital, Izze remembers having mainly one person to talk to, her mother.

“I remember sitting together with my mom on the hospital bed, crying and talking about if some new found strength in me would grow or weaken under my frail bones,” said Izze.

Not only did she form that bond but she also got to know three different oncologists who rotated in and out during her stay in the children’s ward, along with the few nurses that she could relate to, unlike the young children on her floor.

“I had no one to relate to, everyone there were too young to relate to,” said Izze.

According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America the disease causes lymphatic tissues to enlarge and put pressure on nearby organs and systems. Since all lymphatic tissues are connected, it allows for the cancer to spread from one portion of your body to another rapidly.

For Izze, treatment consisted of a long cycle of being on a chemo drip. Radiation was an option, but with the effects of the chemo, her body was frail and too weak to make it through that as well.

“The harsh chemo had caused my bones to be weak, and they were so brittle that I wasn’t able to walk for months. Chemo did not only take the cancerous cells but also the good cells you need,” said Izze.

Not only was she fighting cancer but she was fighting depression. Izze struggled with depression before and after her diagnosis.

“I was in so much pain most of the time, I felt it wasn’t worth fighting anymore,” Izze said softly.

During her time in the hospital, Izze’s little brother Elliot, who was 9 at the time, didn’t know exactly how to handle it.

“He would sit in front of the computer and play video games to try to subside his anxiety of the situation,” said Izze.

To Izze, the only person she had was her mom. Most of her friends left when they found out about the cancer. Not many of her current friends know what she went through, all they know is that she was sick.

“I feel as though there is no reason to bring it up since it is no longer prominent in my life,” said Izze.

It has been a long sixteen months for Izze as she has been in remission. Every three months she has to go in for blood work to check her progress. Then once a year she will go to get a scan done to check and make sure that no masses of cancer have developed in her body. But never once has she let it define who she is.

“It was a long haul, but the experience changed me for the better. I found myself in the darkest of times,” Izze continued. “Although I had to beat the highest amount of pain physically and emotionally I’ll ever experience, I won’t let cancer define me.”

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