Team Sabrina Against Lymphoma

My name is Sabrina Santos, and I am a 19 year old college student from Newark, New Jersey. As I started my second semester of my freshman year, I finally felt like I had a grasp on how to go about my college experience (not stressed) and was looking forward to opportunities that would further launch my future endeavors in pursuing my career. Unfortunately, February 22, 2018, changed all of that for me. Before being diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - Bulky Disease, I noticed an unusual lump on my neck mid-February. Sharing this discovery with my mother pushed us in the direction of multiple blood tests that eventually sent us to the ER. Upon being in the ER, more blood work was done and ultrasound of my neck to examine the lump; at first our hopes were high because it was misdiagnosed as an infection. However, after doing an x-ray of my chest, the doctor came back with the news that there was an abnormal mass in my chest which he described as Lymphoma. Upon hearing the news with my mother beside me, not understanding what it was at first, I knew I had to make the decision right there and then of how I was going to approach this experience. As the doctor briefly spoke about our next steps, I remained strong for my mother who was completely devastated when she realized he was saying I had cancer. From there I was sent to a Oncology/Hematology Unit at another hospital the next day, and so far I have been blessed with an amazing team of oncology/hematology physicians who are helping me fight this all. After multiple scans and a biopsy, it was confirmed that my diagnosis was Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - Bulky Disease.

As a result of the expected treatment for my cancer, 5 cycles of chemotherapy, and fingers crossed minimal to no radiation, it has made being a college student more difficult. Not only have I had to drop one of my courses, but at the moment school seems to be a total loss. Discovering this medical condition very early in the Spring semester (4-5th week), I was told I would not be reimbursed for any of the tuition my parents paid. The most frustrating part of all of this is that my parents spent my whole life saving for me to go to college, and the fact that a medical condition such as mine can’t salvage a bit of that tuition, makes me feel all the more angry. It’s as if the school makes it seem like I planned for this to happen.

Since my immune system will gradually be vulnerable from the chemo, I am prone to infection, therefore being present for classes and clubs I am passionate about is a BIG NO. Being diagnosed with Lymphoma two weeks before my Medical/Public Health Brigade hurt me the most as I was looking forward to getting more insight on my intended major, Public Health. Additionally, I was looking forward to volunteering in a local hospital’s pediatric unit, keeping company to children with chronic diseases. Healthcare is something I’m really passionate about and having to deal with Lymphoma definitely is a setback but not an event I will allow to define my goals.

Ultimately, the goal of my GoFundMe Page is to help my parents with unexpected finances. But, whatever kind donations are not used on our behalf, I am promising to donate all proceeds to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Valerie Fund - Children’s Center. The reason for my decision to donate the rest of the proceeds to these two organizations is because 1. I’d like to help further the research on blood cancers, so better treatment will be available to others in future, and 2. I am so grateful for the Valerie Fund and all the support it has given patients, including myself, over the years. Their mission to help families in need to have better access to care and treatment deserves the donations.

Under no circumstances am I allowing Hodgkin's Lymphoma to get the better of me. I have decided since February 22, 2018 that I was going to fight this cancer with all I got and I am not backing down from that decision. I am a FIGHTER and I will not let Lymphoma win!

To my family and friends, the emotional support, prayers, and positive thoughts only motivates me further to get this over with, thank you for the encouragement! For those who are kind enough to find it in their heart to donate, thank you & GOD BLESS!

-Sabrina Santos
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Sabrina Santos 
Newark, NJ
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