Lauren Badua’s fight against cancer continues


By Beth Taylor

Displaying strength and fortitude beyond her 17 years, Lauren Badua is intent on keeping her senior year of high school “normal” as she bravely battles cancer for the second time.

“We want Lauren to keep doing all the things she would be doing to enjoy her senior year,” said her mother, Heather Badua.

Last year, during her junior year at Fishers High School, Lauren’s fight began. Doctors discovered a cancerous tumor pushing against her heart and lungs. Within days of her initial diagnosis of stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma, Lauren started chemotherapy.

As she endured chemo, she was given a choice. Either she could be homeschooled or she could return to high school, wearing a mask to help protect against illnesses that could further deplete a chemo-weakened immune system. Characteristically, she chose to return to school. Her classmates carried her backpack and books. As expected, she maintained her place on the academic honor roll.

Lauren credits her faith in God and the love and the support of family and friends for keeping her spirits up. “I believe that God gives those with the strongest shoulders the toughest battles,” she said.

Lauren was declared cancer free in the spring, but at a checkup a few weeks ago, a nodule was found in her lung. The cancer had returned. “She had the nodule removed as well as part of the middle lobe of her lung and is continuing to receive chemo,” Heather said.

Lauren attends classes and participates in as many activities as she can. Like her classmates, she’s taking college entrance exams and deciding on a major. She’s also gearing up for Fishers High School’s wrestling season. She looks forward to her role as team manager.

“I just keep score and help the coaches. I don’t have to do laundry or anything like that,” explained Lauren.

Lauren works hard to keep up with her classwork. “I like science classes best. Pre-calculus is not my favorite!” said Lauren. She plans to major in nursing, saying. “I’ve been inspired by the nurses who have helped me. I’d like to do pediatric oncology nursing.”

She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, especially her 7-year-old sister, Elizabeth, with whom she is especially close. “My little sister is my biggest supporter,” said Lauren. During her treatment at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, she and Elizabeth often watched Disney movies from Lauren’s bed.

As her treatment continues, the financial costs are increasing. The outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous. Lauren’s family initially felt uncomfortable accepting help. “I’ve been used to helping, not being helped,” explained Heather. “I’m just so thankful that so many people care about Lauren.”

A recent event was held on Oct. 25. Lauren’s friend, Sylvia Peshel, and her mother, Ann Peshel, hosted the Badua Bash fundraiser at their home. “I envisioned it as a fun bonfire for the students and families,” said Ann Peshel. The event featured live music, food trucks and a blood drive.

“I didn’t think twice. I knew that I was supposed to host this event to raise money for Lauren and her family. I’m so inspired by Lauren, she is an incredible young lady,” Ann said.

Heather credits the staff at Fishers High School with helping keep Lauren focused on her future. “Everyone at Fishers High School has been wonderful; the teachers, nurses and all her friends. There’s just no better place for her to be. Everyone is helping her to do what she wants, which is to stay caught up with her classwork.”

Lauren’s chemotherapy is continuing. In December, Lauren will have a stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant. “She was a little down about being in the hospital over Christmas and having visitor restrictions given the time of year (flu season), but she understands it’s for her health.” Heather said.

As Lauren’s caregiver, Heather also finds comfort and strength in her belief that God is in control and has a plan for Lauren’s life. “It’s hard for me to be sad when I see how Lauren is handling everything,” Heather said. “She’s faith-filled and positive. And she’s determined to not let cancer define her.”

The bone marrow transplant will harvest Lauren’s own stem cells. “Luckily, this is more successful than having to use a donor,” said Heather.

Lauren and Heather take each day as it comes.

“I trust in God and I focus on each day’s blessings,” said Heather. “I used to be concerned that I didn’t plan things well enough ahead of time. Now I see that (flaw) as a strength, because I do just take things as they come.”

Hodgkin lymphoma facts

Most commonly strikes ages 15-40

More often diagnosed in men

Most cases found in United States, Canada and northern Europe

About 9,190 new cases reported in 2014

Survival rate: over 90% in some cases

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