Logan was one of Naya’s best friends. They had birthdays within days of each other, always laughed together and loved to hangout. Logan’s support during Naya’s illness helped Naya feel normal even though things were not normal. Six months after Naya passed away, Logan was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma (cancer). Here’s Logan’s story.
Hi my name is Logan and on April 15, 2015, I was diagnosed with Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma. This is my story.
THE LOSS OF ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS
It was early November 2014 when my mom told me that one of my best friends, Naya Summy, would not make it. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that God would somehow spare her life, and I tried my best to believe that she would be okay. I cried, I prayed, I hoped. But unfortunately my prayers weren't answered. On November 5, 2014 one of my best friends didn't make it. Why her? She was so kind, smart, and strong. Millions of thoughts were running through my head, leaving me so confused. What did she do to deserve this? I knew that at some point I had to accept Naya’s death. But I just didn't want to.
One month passed since Naya died and the lymph node on my neck had grown, leaving the left side of my neck swollen.
It was when things started to change. My neck was bothering me. I was trying to take notes in class but I couldn't concentrate. Not only that, my classmates would poke my neck when I wasn't paying attention.
I was tired of the lump. It was there all my life, swelling up when I was sick and then shrinking when I was better. But every time we went to the doctor, they all said the same thing: “it's benign”, “it's harmless”, “I don't see any need for surgery.” But I knew that something wasn't right this time; it was reacting differently. My mom brought it to the attention of my pediatrician at my annual check-up. She measured it, then circled it and asked my mom to keep an eye on it. I kept getting sick. I just was not feeling like my usual self, so my mom took me back to see my pediatrician in September and October. She again dismissed the lump. She said it did not fit the description of cancer. The node moved and it felt soft so not to worry. “Let’s keep watching it,” she said.
Again in late November, I called my mom from school to pick me up. I asked her again to take me to see the doctor and reluctantly she did. My mom was ready to ask to see a different doctor this time, but it turned out that fate already took care of it. We explained what was going on and that we had been in a few times before. The doctor immediately ordered blood tests. The next day he called and said that one of the tests came back abnormal. He asked my mom to wait a week to see if I was feeling better before taking me back to the lab to repeat the test. The follow up test came back normal and we were so relieved. However, we decided that we should go ahead and have the lump removed.
MY FIRST SURGERY: REMOVING THE LYMPH NODE
The process took forever with 2 blood tests, weeks of waiting, and even more weeks to see a doctor. But when we finally got to the end, I was disappointed that he suggested waiting another 2 weeks to take the lump out. “No,” I said. “We want it out as soon as possible.” My parents tried to argue with me because they didn't want me to have unnecessary surgery. I told them, “This is my body and I know something is not right. I really want it out as soon as possible.” On April 2, 2015, the lump was finally removed.
As I was recovering from surgery I could feel even more lumps (dozens) around the wound. “It’s just because of the surgery,” my mom said. But I knew what it was. I wouldn't dare let the words come from my mouth knowing about Naya’s death. I waited for news on the lymph node. I knew what was up but I didn't want to worry my parents.
I was told two weeks after my surgery that I needed to go to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for a “check-up.” When my parents and I arrived, we took the elevator to the Oncology floor. I don't think my parents knew that I knew what “Oncology” meant. They thought I was just being impatient because the doctors were making us wait.
I could see all the other kids around me and I really did not want to hear what they would tell me. When the doctor finally called us in after a long speech, he turned to me and said that I had nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - cancer. Even though I expected it, I was still shocked. I still didn't want to hear it and I didn't know how to react. There were so many thoughts, worries, memories going through my head. I was so overwhelmed I didn't know what to do. I was only 12. I was so young. But I didn't cry; I laughed. I didn't know how to react. I didn't want to go through this. I didn't want to miss camp, or sit out of lacrosse, or fall behind in school. Right when those thoughts hit me, that's when I cried. I sobbed thinking about Naya, missing camp, chemo, radiation, medication, pills, hospital visits, surgeries, pain, the unknown. But I knew I had to be strong. I knew that Naya was there fighting with me.
I held my head up high and got through my first 4 rounds of chemo. I was extremely sensitive to the medication. The way the chemo made me feel as it entered my body, the nausea, lack of balance, memory loss, etc. made me feel like crap. But I got through it.
During treatment, I got to meet the most amazing actress, Bailee Madison. She hung out with me and helped me get through my sickness. I was so thankful to her for being there. She always had such a good spirit and was one of the people who kept me going.
My doctors hoped after the first 4 rounds I would be done, so I mentally prepared myself for 4 rounds and remained optimistic and hopeful. Unfortunately, my doctors said that the chemo had not worked like they had hoped. So, I either had to do 2 more rounds of a more aggressive combination of meds, or go directly to radiation and wait and see what happens. Even though I didn't want to go through more rounds of chemo, I knew that I had to pick the safer option which made my choice easy.
The first treatment of the two additional rounds was torture. I begged my mom not to have me go through the second of the two treatments. She reminded me that I needed to Fight Like A Girl. She reminded me that Naya fought and never gave up. I felt terrible, sick and I was craving the weirdest foods. But I stayed strong and I got through it.
We were relieved to hear that the 2 additional rounds worked. So, I was ready to take on my 14 rounds of radiation. I wasn't excited for the radiation at all because I didn't feel comfortable with the mask holding my face down to the table. But with the help of Taylor Swift's album “1989” I managed to be strong. I was tired all the time and I felt like my body wasn't keeping up with my mind. I was getting dark spots where the radiation was applied, and I still felt sick. But I didn't let that slow me down, or stop me.
I was ready to be okay and have the assurance that I was not sick anymore. But all I could do was get tests and wait. Wait for hopefully good news. Luckily for me I was okay! On November 11,2015, I was told that I didn’t have cancer anymore. I was more than sure that Naya was there fighting with me. I was positive that she helped me through it. Not a day went by where I hadn’t thought of Naya, or felt her strength to keep me going.
And here I am today, healthier than I have ever been. Not taking my life for granted, not wishing for more knowing that my life was spared. And I will always stay strong after conquering cancer.
So for whoever is reading this, whenever you feel down sick, upset, different, or less than everyone else, always know that I am fighting with you. And that you are not alone, because NO ONE Fights Alone. And for all the kids out there going through sickness or heartache, Fight Like A Girl! You can do it!