Two-Time Cancer Survivor from Brick Shares Story [SERIES]
In Part IV of our series "Winning the War on Cancer", we hear the story of a 22-year-old woman who has survived cancer not once, but twice.
When Katie Lowery-Graziano was 11 years old, she had just returned from a family vacation to Disney World and her neck was swollen. Her parents took her to the doctor to rule out strep throat or something else. Little did they know, it was much worse. Katie was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She was cancer free for 10 years before being diagnosed again, with thyroid cancer. Now 22, Katie is once again cancer free and looking forward to the rest of her life.
"When I received my first diagnosis, I was 11 years old. I had a four inch tumor in my chest. I had to have a biopsy to make sure it didn't spread, which it didn't. I was treated at The Valerie Fund Children's Center for about six months during which I received chemotherapy and radiation," said Lowery-Graziano. "At the time, I didn't even really know what cancer was. I knew that older people got it and usually died from it. But, it felt like my doctors really knew what they were talking about. They made my parents comfortable and that made me comfortable so I wasn't fearful."
Getting diagnosed as an adult was a little different. "I was told that the thyroid cancer was a result of the treatment I received for the Hodgkin's lymphoma. The whole process was very quick. They took the thyroid out and told me I was going to be fine, which they did and I am. But, it was much different as an adult. It wasn't as comfortable. No one was holding my hand and making me feel comfortable through the process. I was also a little more frightened because I knew what the disease was and what it could do. As a child they take you step-by-step through the process. As an adult, that wasn't the case which made it a little more dark for me. At the same time, I knew that once they took the thyroid out, I would be fine."
Katie just graduated college and is working to become an environmental writer. How has surviving cancer twice changed her outlook on life?
"I would say it has affected me. Life is short, it's important to do what you want and to do what makes you happy. You shouldn't think about the struggles you have, you should learn from them," she said.
Each year, The Valerie Fund hosts a 5K walk in an effort to raise funds for the continued care for children with cancer and blood disorders. This year's event will take place on Saturday, June 15, 2013 at Verona Park in Verona, New Jersey. There is also an online component for those who want to raise money virtually by running or walking from any participating Retro Fitness location in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. For more information, visit TheValerieFund.org.