Business sophomore Paige Hackenberger is not one to back down from a challenge.
After beating a battle with cancer, she’s now taking on the challenge of leading a team of 44 cyclists on a 100-mile ride in Mackinaw City, Mich. to raise thousands of dollars for cancer research.
Hackenberger is participating in a Team in Training program sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The programs involve endurance training and physical activity to raise money for cancer research.
Though the bike ride on June 14 is Hackenberger’s first TNT event, she has been involved with LLS since she was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at nine years old.
When she was in the fourth grade, Hackenberger went to the doctor’s office to have a peculiar lump on her neck examined. She later discovered she had a cantaloupe-sized tumor growing in her chest, moving her heart to the center of her body and her trachea to the side.
“I think my exact quote was, ‘You’re wrong. Cancer is only something grandpas and grandmas get, and then they die,’ ” she said.
Throughout her experience with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hackenberger said the LLS became a stalwart for her family and friends.
The LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency that supports patients and their families suffering from blood cancer and provides funding for potentially life-saving research. The agency was founded in New York in 1949 and currently has 63 chapters nationwide. So far, the organization has invested over $1 billion in blood cancer research.
While Hackenberger was going through chemotherapy, volunteers from the LLS contacted her parents and informed the family on what to expect during treatment and in recovery. She and her family came to rely on the organization during Hackenberger’s treatment for both information and support.
“I know (my parents) feel like without this organization, my experience would’ve been more scary and a lot less guided,” she said.
After successfully concluding treatment, Hackenberger immediately became involved with the LLS. In high school she helped organize fundraisers such as Pennies for Patients, a program where LLS representatives visit elementary schools around the state to educate students about blood cancer. In turn, students collected spare change to donate to research.
Hackenberger said her involvement with the LLS is a way to express gratitude for the volunteers who helped her and her family as she struggled with the disease. She said it was no coincidence that she survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma and sees it as her opportunity to give back to others walking in the same shoes.
“I just find it incredibly fulfilling to be able to say that I’m here today because of what people have done in the past and that I’m going to maybe give someone through my hard work and the hard work of so many other people, the opportunity to be with their family for the rest of their life,” she said.