Sam Bell’s life is most likely different from yours. There are days when hanging out with her friends is just not an option. On the days she can she has to sit and watch movies; otherwise she’ll get too tired to be able to have a good time. Sam has people constantly asking her if she’s capable of doing things. Sam is a teenager, but for the past three months Sam has been living with cancer.
Sam has some advice for any other kids in high school that are trying to deal with living with cancer and school at the same time, “Just keep positive, it’s only temporary.”
She found a lump on her neck-something that many of us might just ignore, something that changed her life. The lump kept getting bigger, and she and her parents decided to go to the doctor. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Cancer.
But was Sam scared when she found out? No. She was nervous, but her parents ended up being more upset than she was. Her positive attitude soon changed their feelings and showed them that they could be positive about it too.
“It didn’t really hit me until I started my treatments,” Sam recalled.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph nodes. According to PDR health (Physicians’ Desktop Reference), this type of cancer accounts for less than 1% of all cancer cases in the U.S.
School has been different this year for Sam, not only in the educational aspect, but in the extra curricular area as well. Sam is in the Ag program at school, and this year she hasn’t gotten the chance to go to any of the meetings.
Sam is also on the school’s swim team, but this year she only had the opportunity to get into the water once. This year would have been her fourth varsity letter; however she can’t achieve that goal because of her absence from practices.
She’s been swimming since she was four years old.
“I wanted to finish my senior year strong, swimming,” said Samantha. Being two tenths of a second away from a district 200 individual medley last year, she had every reason to want to swim through her senior year.
The doctors found the cancer in her neck and her chest, for which she has been undergoing treatment. Her treatment consists of four different rounds, each 21 days. During the first three days of these treatments, Sam has to get chemotherapy, on the other days she gets different types of medicine through IV’s. After the chemo treatments, Sam normally feels sick and tired.
The hardest part is the fact that she can’t hang out with her friends without feeling really tired.
“When you’re seventeen, it’s kind of hard because you know you’re supposed to be out with your friends having fun,” Sam said.
When Sam found out that she had cancer she began her treatment knowing that she would be losing something that is very precious to every teenage girl: her hair.
“I was freaking out,” Sam said, and she almost started “bawling”.
After the first two weeks of treatment Sam said that her hair began to fall out in the shower in huge clumps. At first she said this really bothered her plus the idea of soon having no hair left at all. After she accepted it, she realized that it would be much easier to just shave it all off.
A simple hat, bandana, or wig can easily cover up this small part of having cancer, she said. However Sam doesn’t really care that she’s been sporting a new hair style, she just goes with it.
“It’s actually kind of easier, not having hair,” Sam said.
Easier, until the day a teacher asked her to take off her hat because hats, hoods, and any type of head scarf are in violation of the dress code. That day Sam said she had been in a bad mood and she thought all the teachers had been informed about why she was wearing her hats, because of three e-mails that had been sent out to the teachers in the high school. However when the teacher asked her to take off her hat she said very bluntly, “I have cancer.” And that was that.
“If it wasn’t so cold outside, I wouldn’t even wear a hat,” Sam said.
The teachers and students at Penn Manor have been showing Sam a lot of support, and helping her to get through this difficult situation. Sam says that people are constantly asking her how she’s feeling and if she can do the things that she’s trying to do. She says that sometimes it can get annoying to be asked so many times if she can do something that she’s attempting, but she loves that people care.
“I wouldn’t do something if I couldn’t handle it,” Sam said.
Her last treatment was Jan. 4, and she’ll have to wait just two weeks for a PET scan (a process that will make the cancer cells show up in a 3-D image scan) that will tell her if all the cancer cells are gone.
Getting My Life Back
“Now I can have my life back. I can be a kid again.”
Sam’s test results came back, and as Facebook showed all of her friends, she’s “a cancer free happy freakin’ girl”.
Sam’s parents are relieved, and Sam is feeling very positive that her cancer will not come back. And her doctors are feeling quite the same.
She will still have to go back for scans every three months for the next year, but that’s not nearly as many doctor visits as she could be having.
And that’s not the only way Sam’s life is getting better.
Sam was able to swim in the meet against McCaskey last Tuesday.
“It was awesome. It was the greatest feeling ever, I missed it so much,” Sam said.
Sam swam in the 200 free relay as her team’s anchor, and they won. She swam in the 100 backstroke and came in third place. And she topped off her winnings with the 400 free relay.
Sam’s life is finally turning a positive corner and she’s getting back to the life that she loves.
By: Abby Wilson