Liz Dufour reports:
“Mom, I can get extra credit for bringing in hand sanitizer to my math class.”
That was my introduction to Liz Lothrop, a Mason teenager being treated for leukemia in 2008. My son, Andrew, had her father as a math teacher at Sycamore High School. Thus started five years of following Liz’s journey – and then Joel Brown’s – through their blog and care page that updated on their progress.
Care pages are both wonderful and scary. You want to read the updates immediately, but at the same time, hold your breath. Over the past few years, Amanda Rossmann (Davidson) was the main photographer covering events, including when Joel relapsed and underwent a bone marrow transplant in February 2011.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood that progresses rapidly without treatment. – from Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
- Photos: Liz and Joel bond through cancer
Liz and Joel, the same age and both from Mason, met when Liz was diagnosed in October 2008 and was admitted to Children’s Hospital. Joel had been diagnosed in June 2008. Not only did they become fast friends during their treatment, their families connected. “There’s not many people who are the same age can say, ‘I’m going through cancer with you,’ and that just set up our friendship, and we said that we were going to fight this together and make it through,” said Liz.
Sunday, Liz and Joel took part in the third annual Blazin With Love 5K, an event their families started. There were other fundraisers, like Light the Night and Layups for Leukemia, and both Sycamore High School and Mason High School held events to support the teens.
“I always have someone coming up to me and saying hi, and I’ll ask them, ‘Do I know you?’ but they know me, and it’s kind of nice to know that there are people out there that know your story and they want to help,” said Joel.
The treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia involves three phases that usually take between 2½ to 3½ years to complete. – from Mayo Clinic
Today, Liz and Joel are both freshman in college. She’s at the University of Cincinnati in psychology and Joel is at Bowling Green in nursing. Both are studying disciplines that will allow them to give back to others. Liz and Joel have just entered the long-term survival group at Children’s Medical Center.
Leukemia is the most common form of cancer in childhood. It affects approximately 3,000 children each year in the U.S., accounting for about 30 percent of childhood cancers. – from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
For more information, http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/service/l/leukemia-lymphoma