Student continues remission after long battle with Leukemia


Photo By: Des Cutter

Junior Savannah Zenz

Des Cutter, Opinion Editor

    After five months of being sick consistently with zero explanations, Junior Savannah Zenz constantly questioned why she was always ill. In April of 2019, during her eighth-grade year, her questions were answered. 

   Out of all the doctors Zenz saw, not one could figure out her diagnosis. She was eventually sent to the emergency room for a blood draw to run even more tests. After talking to the oncology team, her doctors had concluded that she had leukemia.

They asked her if she knew what it was, and from there she was sent to Motts Children’s Hospital for her official diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

   “I was in pure shock,” said Zenz. “I was scared and upset, and I wasn’t able to go to school or even see my friends.”

   Leukemia and its treatments affected her life more than she had expected. Zenz had a lot of neuropathy pain, lost a total of 43 pounds in about two months, and lost her hair, which was a significant loss to her. 

   “I wish my hair hadn’t fallen out because that was one of the hardest parts. Every part of having cancer is hard, but my hair was one of my favorite traits about myself, and losing that just broke me,” said Zenz.

   Cancer affected her physically, but it also worsened her anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It caused epilepsy and due to the almost three and a half years of regular doctor appointments, blood tests, and port accesses, it caused Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).  

   “I still get nauseous every time I’m on my way to an appointment or even just thinking about the hospital,” said Zenz.

   When friends and family found out about Zenz’s leukemia, everything continued to go downhill. 

   “Everyone reacted in my least favorite way possible. Everyone wanted to coddle me, apologize, and tell me how unfair it was,” said Zenz, “I got all pity with no reassurance. I just wanted people to listen to me when I talked about being in pain.”

   Friendships ended and family issues only got worse. 

   Since May 2019, Zenz has been in remission and finished chemo on August 15, 2021, but the fight is not over. Remission for ALL is 5 years after diagnosis, but a relapse can happen at any time, and Zenz will have to see an oncologist for the rest of her life. 

   “There’s a chance I won’t be able to have kids, and I’m honestly okay with that,” said Zenz.

   There is also a sliver of a chance of her having another seizure even though she is no longer epileptic. Zenz will always have to worry about the risk of illness and infection, and she will always have a large scar on her chest from her port to serve as a reminder, although she is getting it out December 10.