Every year the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life hosts a “Survivor Speaker,” or someone who has personally dealt with a form of cancer. For this year, the Survivor Speaker was Horizon High School soccer player Megan Oleno, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in April 2009.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also known as “Hodgkin’s disease,” is a type of cancer that initiates from a person’s white blood cells called lymphocytes and spreads from an individual lymph node group in the body to other lymph node groups. Oleno’s particular version of Hodgkin’s took place in her bone marrow, and her family made the choice of doing both chemo and radiation to treat it.
She endured several rounds of chemotherapy and 14 treatments of radiation. After her treatments, she returned to her school’s soccer team and played without ever missing a game or practice.
In the Class 5A-II state championship against Desert Mountain High School, she played the whole game, even going into double overtime.
Now in remission, Oleno goes in every three months for blood and other related tests but is feeling otherwise happy and energized to be playing soccer again.
“I’m excited to be back on the field,” Oleno said .
At her speech early this month at Phoenix Country Day School, Oleno shared her story of how she was diagnosed and the immediate days following.
“It was incredibly moving, bringing tears to many eyes in the audience,” said Relay for Life Event organizer Pam Kirby. “Many of them could relate to Megan’s story.”
Oleno said she was glad to have friends and family around to support her through her procedures, as well as her boyfriend, who was with her before her treatment and is still with her now. She was able to go to her school prom during that time.
“She has been very brave through her treatment, and she has given inspiration to others,” said her mother, Andee Oleno.