Archive for Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cancer patient lived to bring new life into world

When Sara Griffith was being treated for stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2006, there was concern that her illness might prevent her from bearing children. Here she is shown with her second child, Chloe, born Nov. 21, 2009.

When Sara Griffith was being treated for stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2006, there was concern that her illness might prevent her from bearing children. Here she is shown with her second child, Chloe, born Nov. 21, 2009.

April 18, 2010

Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of stories about area residents who are surviving cancer. These articles were produced by members of the Kansas University School of Architecture, Design and Planning PhotoMedia program.

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Sara White Griffith

Sara White Griffith discusses her diagnosis and her life since then. Enlarge video

Sara Griffith is shown with her husband, Lance, and son, Julian, 2, in their Lawrence home.

Sara Griffith is shown with her husband, Lance, and son, Julian, 2, in their Lawrence home.

A family snapshot shows Sara wearing her bald spot under a yellow bandanna during chemotherapy in 2006.

A family snapshot shows Sara wearing her bald spot under a yellow bandanna during chemotherapy in 2006.

At 22 years old, Sara White Griffith was living a fairly normal life.

She had just graduated from Kansas University and was about to embark on life after college. She’d landed a job as a corrections officer at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center in Lawrence.

Although everything seemed fine on the outside, one small thing was consistently bothering Griffith. During training sessions at the gym, she experienced severe chest pain. For a time, she attributed it to specific exercises.

It wasn’t until she went to a doctor that she found out the pain was caused by a tumor in her chest — Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

When she heard that news in December 2005, Griffith was “absolutely shocked.” She and her family wondered, “How could something like this happen to someone so young?” Despite her initial devastation, she soon regrouped and began receiving chemotherapy treatments and radiation.

After just eight of 12 planned chemotherapy treatments, doctors told her she would probably be fine. But to be safe, she received the full round of treatments.

Griffith explained that her body tolerated the chemo very well, and she even had enough strength to keep working full-time at the detention center.

“I guess I had a positive attitude,” she said. “They told me that there was a 90 percent cure rate, and based on that information, I was pretty positive that they would be able to cure it with chemotherapy.”

Griffith has been fortunate enough to have strong support system from friends, family and the Lawrence Memorial Hospital oncology staff. Her then-boyfriend, now her husband, Lance, whom she met at KU, has been with her through the entire process.

He took her to work on days she didn’t feel up to driving. He did laundry. He cooked.

“He was there, the whole time, supporting me,” she said.

Her mother took off work and went with her to each treatment — every two weeks on a Monday.

Perhaps the most amazing thing to come of Griffith’s battle with cancer was something she found out six months after her last chemotherapy treatment. Doctors had warned the chemo might render her infertile. But to her and her husband’s surprise, Griffith was pregnant, and nine months later gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy, Julian, now 2. And five months ago, Griffith gave birth to her second child, a healthy baby girl, Chloe.

Her mother, Sally White, says that during her treatments and follow-up tests at the hospital Griffith developed “great relationships” with LMH oncology nurses. She thinks that’s partially responsible for Griffith’s recent applications to nursing schools at three area universities.

Griffith, now 27, has absolutely no regrets about her illness, and she even says she is grateful that it happened to her instead of someone else. She said having Hodgkin’s made her step back and remember to be grateful for life.

“I just knew that being as young as I was, it was a hurdle that I had to overcome,” she said. “And it wasn’t something that was going to stop me. I took it one day at a time, and I continued living my life as I had been in the past.

“I just didn’t close down and have a woe-is-me attitude.”

Comments

childhoodsurvivor 5 years, 2 months ago

Sara- When I was 14, I was diagnosed with Stage IIA Hodgkins Disease. I am also 27 now. I have wondered about the possibility of not being able to get pregnant as well, but I havent tried yet. As silly as it is, my sweetie works for the Douglas County corrections. I just thought it was interesting how similar our lives are. Glad you are doing well.

BigPrune 5 years, 2 months ago

How about "Cancer patient lives to bring new life into world"?

angelmom 5 years, 2 months ago

Sara and Lance, I am so happy for the two of you, I know Lance and he is a great guy and a wonderful father. I hope you two have a long and healthy, happy life together. You have beautiful childern.

sourpuss 5 years, 2 months ago

Congrats. My own cancer at 30 was within my pelvic region, so the radiation treatments made me sterile. However, my partner and I were able to free nine embryos, so hopefully with the help of a surrogate, we may have our own child one day. I'm so happy for you that you could make a recovery and still live your dreams.

Sharon Aikins 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm so happy for you. May you all have long and happy lives together.

EarthaKitt 5 years, 2 months ago

Big Prune - YES! I was dreading a much different conclusion.

Danielle Brunin 5 years, 2 months ago

I almost didn't read the article because I thought she died and I didn't feel like crying. I'm relieved that she's doing well and has two beautiful children. What a beautiful family!

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm happy for Sara, but regretful that the prognosis for a dear friend and also for my father is not so good.

Life is short, we need to enjoy it while we can.

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