By Shawn Gunarich
In the case of Red Lion sophomore Trevor Vitz, his wish would come true. But, it came with a price.
In Trevor’s eighth grade year during a routine dental checkup, a large mass was found in his cheek. The doctors were deciding between a swollen salivary gland or cancer as the diagnosis.
A parent’s nightmare was about to come true as the results came back as cancer, and for the next year-and-a-half Trevor would fight for his life as he would undergo a major removal surgery on his face and a skin graft on his wrist and thigh. Next came 35 rounds of radiation therapy.
Trevor would never be the same; the skin on his wrist and thigh would always be scarred and Trevor has an increased risk of a thyroid condition.
“I was never afraid of dying. It never crossed my mind,” Trevor said in a recent interview. “[It] happens to people everyday.”
As for Trevor’s parents, Teresa and Barry Vitz, Trevor’s cancer would not be so easy to cast aside. During Trevor’s major removal surgery, his parents waited and waited until they lost track of time.
When the doctors brought Trevor out from the operation, Teresa said “It was not my son. He looked like he was in a car accident”. She went on to describe how Trevor’s face was badly bruised, a large hole and drain rod in his cheek along with large bandage on his arm and thigh.
A month went by until Trevor would undergo his radiation, and just as Trevor was starting to get back on his feet, he was bounced back down.
“Trevor could not eat due to swelling and weakness” said Barry. “He was not himself”
After all of pain and hardship subsided, Trevor would finally get to have some fun.
“It was all worth it,” said Trevor when he told Leonid reporters about his journey to Atlanta. Trevor got the opportunity to meet his favorite NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons.
Trevor would spend two days in Atlanta watching the Falcons in a pre-season game, and even though the Falcons lost Trevor said, “It was awesome.” Trevor also met the quarterback Matt Ryan.
During a recent interview Trevor said that his favorite player to meet was Matt Bosher the punter. “ He took the time to talk to me the most,” said Trevor. “He connected with me more than you would have expected.”
Trevor underwent many obstacles with his cancer, radiation and a major surgery this will stick with him for the rest of his life.
But he did not give up. Even after this life-threatening illness he stuck with it and considers himself cancer free.
Trevor still continues to run three miles every day for cross country and is now fully recovered from his cancer. He is a living testament of a cancer survivor.
By Ashlee Galloway
“What do you tell your nine year old when they ask you if they are going to die,” said Karen Foller. For most parents, this question is one they will never have to answer. For Karen, this question was only the beginning of a lifelong journey.
Autumn Foller was a third grader at Mazie Gable Elementary School when she suddenly developed a bad cough. Autumn’s parents took her to the doctor for what they thought was a case of pneumonia. On August 7, 2012, Autumn and her family went to see her doctor for a diagnosis.
After scanning Autumn’s chest, doctors called her and her family into a private room to deliver the news. What they thought was a mild case of pneumonia was actually cancer.
Autumn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a form of blood cancer that causes the body’s bone marrow to produce an excessive amount of white blood cells. Autumn’s doctors sent her to Hershey Children’s Hospital to be treated.
Autumn was admitted and began treatment on August 8, 2012. Over the next few days, a broviac port was implanted in her chest to administer medication and receive blood.
Autumn was soon classed as a “slow responder” to her chemo, and her body refused to accept the treatment. Doctors changed the treatment plan and she was placed on a new set of medications that worked for her.
Seven weeks total were spent in the hospital receiving rigorous chemotherapy treatments. After the third week, Autum began to lose her hair.
“The nurses at Hershey always kept Autumn in great spirits,” remembers Karen Foller, Autumn’s mother. “She never showed signs of giving up or stopping fighting.. Today Autumn is well and you can’t really tell of the journey we have been through.”
In May 2013, Autumn had the opportunity for her wish to be granted by the Make-A-Wish foundation. She chose to go to Philadephia to meet Monday night RAW wrestler John Cena.
Penn State York’s THON group sponsors Autumn, along with other children and their families. She and her family have attended THON in Penn State the past two years, and she’s even had the chance to be on main stage several times. The Foller family also went to Red Lion’s Mini-THON in 2013 and 2014.
Mini-THON 2015 will be dedicated to Autumn’s battle. Red Lion is sponsoring her and her family in the fight against childhood cancer. “Autumn is determined to beat Leukemia,” says her mother. “She wants to continue to give back to families and show that they’re not alone in their fight.”
Today, Autumn is eleven years old and in fifth grade. She continues to receive treatment at Hershey Medical Center, but will be officially declared cancer-free in May 2015.
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