Leukemia Survivor and Family Give Back by Volunteering
As most Leukemia patients are diagnosed early on in their life, Abby Sproch (22 years old), was among the small percentage of adults who are diagnosed in their early twenties.
As a recent college graduate, she was living on her own working at Geisinger Hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania. After complaints of persistent back pain, Abby’s mother took her to see a doctor.
“We thought it was just a pulled muscle or slipped disc,” Abby’s mom, Robin said, “and physical therapy would be able to heal it.” But unfortunately, for Abby, the MRI and testing revealed a tumor that was pushing on her spinal cord in her lower back, and that quickly, she was on her way to Penn State Health’s Emergency Room facing more blood work and the possibility of emergency surgery.
After several blood tests, it was confirmed that Abby had Leukemia and would require immediate surgery followed by 28 days of induction therapy; treatment that would successfully put Abby in remission. Later that year, she started what would end up being a year’s worth of weekly chemotherapy treatments to further battle Leukemia.
In December of 2018, Abby spiked a fever which brought her back to Penn State Health. This time, pneumonia would land her in Penn State Children’s Hospital for four consecutive months and the road to recovery would include treatment for pneumonia, having part of her lung removed, and being placed into isolation for her safety. Abby went septic three different times during her four-month stay and fought through every battle that she encountered.
One thing that kept Abby’s spirits up while she was being treated was the Ronald McDonald Hospitality Cart that travels on the third and fourth floor of Penn State Children’s Hospital.
“I was so sick,” Abby said. “and all I wanted to eat was Pop-Tarts.”
Robin and Abby started to notice that sometimes the cart was not available on the weekends. They made a pact that once Abby got better, they would volunteer at the cart on weekends together so it would be available every day of the week for families.
“We benefited so much from the Hospitality Cart,” Robin said. “Everyone was so kind to us and truly became our family while we were here.”
Abby valued the interactions with the volunteers and said that she hopes to pay it forward to future patients as she volunteers.
“There is power in small interactions,” Abby said. “When someone said something nice to me, it went a long way. I want to pay that forward to someone else.”
We are proud to welcome Abby and Robin as two of our newest volunteers with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central PA at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
You can help families like the Sproch Family by donating items to our Wish List to be placed on our Hospitality Cart over at Penn State Children’s Hospital or get involved like Abby and Robin by volunteering here.