BEN TOWLES

When I was 16 my entire life changed with one phone call. I had been sick for a while in the fall of 2010 but when an x-ray of my chest was finally taken on January 24, 2011, a call from my pediatrician gave us an idea of just how sick I was. I had a massive tumor in my left chest. I was immediately sent to Golisano Children’s Hospital where my treatment for Large B-cell Lymphoma began. Shortly after arriving an echo determined that I had a dangerous amount of fluid surrounding my heart and I went in for my first surgery. From day one, it seemed that if it could go wrong, it did for me.

Much of 2011 was spent at Golisano where I received excellent care. The people there are amazing and I came to feel very comfortable there. In the fall I became sick again and on January 5, 2012, I went to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where I had a lung resection. It was a surgery that I almost didn’t survive, and the news that followed was devastating. I had cancer, again. I spent most of 2012 admitted at CHOP where my pattern of things not exactly going well continued. Following stem cell transplant I developed a double gram-negative infection and went into septic shock. I spent two weeks in ICU and was told I was very lucky to have survived. I then had over a month of radiation and finally got to come home the end of September.

On September 24, 2012, my mom and I turned off Rt. 81 to drive the last mile to our house. Even though it was very late and very cold outside, my road was lined with people welcoming me home. I have learned that the support of your family, friends and community makes all the difference. I continue to receive treatment at Golisano and CHOP. My cancer experience has not been easy but I am now back in school, determined to graduate and go on to college.

UPDATE: I have been doing well and reached a few milestones and personal goals this past year. I was able graduate from high school and have one semester of college under my belt. I also passed my one year remission anniversary. I got my license and enjoy driving my 1998 Camaro. This allows me some independence I have not had the past couple of years. A personal goal I set when I was diagnosed was to someday skydive. That dream came true on August 23, 2013, when I jumped out of a plane (can’t wait to do it again!) I also took a long overdue family vacation and cruised to the Bahamas. Medically, I am doing well and am slowly gaining back strength, concentration and my immune system. Life is good!

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