College hunting, student celebrations and time with her siblings is what Kyleigh Sanders’ day to day activities entailed. An exciting time in her life, she was in her senior year of high school and looking forward to her graduation in the coming months.
Feeling tired and worn out, Kyleigh thought nothing of it as she was in the midst of applying to colleges, volunteering and in school full time. Going about her day to day, she continued partaking in all the senior year activities.
As the weeks progressed, the swelling of her lymph nodes became more apparent. However, she and her mother continued brushing it off as a possible cold or added stress. “I felt ok, I really did,” said Kyleigh. “There are always things going around at school, and it didn’t faze me one bit.”
Kyleigh’s swelling progressed rapidly and her glands became visible on her neck. With her mom by her side, Kyleigh went in for a standard visit to ensure she was healthy. Their world was quickly turned upside down. On Dec. 22, 2015, Kyleigh was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“I couldn’t believe it. I had no family history, I was a senior in high school. How could this be happening to me?” she said. “It was so surreal, I could not grasp it all.”
In the following days, Kyleigh immediately began her treatment at Tallahassee Memorial’s Cancer Center, and was referred to Amit Jain, MD, MPH, hematologist/oncologist, and Raj Bendre, MD, radiation oncologist. Together they came up with a comprehensive radiation and chemotherapy treatment plan to tackle this disease.
“Both physicians and their teams were wonderful. They treated me as an adult,” she proudly stated. “Their team kept me informed of every step in my treatment, while compassionately caring for me.”
Each time Kyleigh returned for treatment, her confidence in the treatment plan grew. In fact, she recalls going to the treatments by herself. “I knew the support my family had was unmeasurable. However, I was an adult and I wanted to conquer this as best I could without hindering my family. I remember driving myself, and walking into treatments by myself, because I could. This gave me strength to conquer it even more.”
Kyleigh remained in school full time, while maintaining a rigorous treatment schedule. Unfortunately, she was unable to graduate with her high school class, instead receiving her diploma online. Missing this milestone was disappointing, however, Kyleigh did not miss a beat. She took this life changing event and turned it into inspiration for her future.
As of January 2018, Kyleigh is completely cancer free and is studying Radiation Therapy and Technology at Keiser University. More specifically, she has chosen her internship to be at the Cancer Center, where she works three days a week. She finds herself shadowing the team that had helped her, learning every in and out that goes into treatment plans she once received.
“As I was going through my treatments, I knew this profession was for me,” explained Kyleigh. “Forming relationships with patients every day, and allowing them to know I was in their shoes and relating to every last detail is special as I walked these halls as a patient three years ago. I so look forward to what the future holds for me.”