Spike out cancer

January 11, 2018

“No School!”

For most students, those words are a dream come true. But missing school has been no stranger to sophomore Bridget Balcerak. For her, missing school means getting shots, getting blood drawn, and virtually injecting poison into her body.

High school students are busy. They have the task to juggle school, homework, sports, after school activities, and for some…even jobs, not to mention everyone trying their best to fit in with everyone else and hanging out with friends. But think about having to take a rain check from hanging out with friends because you are too weak to stand, have to shave all of your sandy blonde hair off, and have to face all the commentary of peers at school. High schoolers are busy anyway, but Balcerak has a whole list of additional problems that she has to face.

On June 2, 2017, Balcerak got the final diagnosis, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. So far, her plan is to have four rounds of chemotherapy with the possibility of having two additional rounds. She goes to Riley Hospital for Children. She says that they are all so nice and understanding.

“One of my nurses, her name is Krista, she helps all the little kids and stuff. She holds your hand when you get injections and IV’s” said Balcerak. They sent her a backpack full of games and items to keep her occupied during chemo in case she got bored. They sent her a Kindle Fire, puzzles, and games to lift her spirits. However, gifts are only a temporary distraction from all the pain and stress of cancer.

“I have learned what it truly means to be happy. I have also learned that if I can make it through this, I can make it through almost anything life throws at me.””

— Bridget Balcerak

Balcerak said that the chemo makes things a lot harder to understand, and that missing so many days, on top of being constantly nauseous, makes school a lot more of a challenge than it used to be. She said that her biggest challenge is trying to keep up with her daily life before cancer, and that she is determined to not let this disease stop her from being her.

Throughout all her struggles, Balcerak finds joy and relief in volleyball.  “My volleyball team is super helpful. They lifted me up at my lowest point, and they always take my feelings into consideration,“ said Balcerak. Sometimes, though, even volleyball can’t distract her from her disease. Sometimes she isn’t able to run as fast, and usually she feels really nauseous.

Balcerak said that she tries to find positivity in everything, especially cancer. She says having cancer is not all bad. “I have learned what it truly means to be happy. I have also learned that if I can make it through this, I can make it through almost anything life throws at me.  It teaches me not to take things for granted, and made me realize that tomorrow is not a given. Everyday I have to try to remember to make the most of it.”

If anything, she says that it has grown her faith a lot, and that it has taught her to count God’s blessings everyday. She really enjoys things such as drinking iced coffee and listening to music. It helps her relax when she feels stressed and gives her more energy.

Balcerak’s whole outlook on life has changed. Her life was nothing extraordinary before, but looking back, she is able to see all the many blessings she’s had. “I always have to remember that someone has it worse than me whatever the situation is. It is something that I never really considered before.”

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