Freshmen seek support for classmate

by Jodi Priselac | 5/24/96 5:00am

Two Dartmouth freshmen are spearheading a campaign to raise money for Kyle Roderick '99, their classmate who has been diagnosed with large-cell follicular lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system.

Nana Ashong '99 and Rex Morey '99 are raising money for Roderick, who needs funds for a possible trip to Omaha, Neb., where he will undergo seven days of chemotherapy, followed by a bone-marrow transplant and six weeks of recuperation.

Roderick needs a bone marrow transplant because the chemotherapy will destroy his own bone marrow. Roderick's first cousin, whose marrow matches Roderick's, will donate his marrow.

Roderick was diagnosed with lymphoma during his senior year of high school around Christmas-time.

"I guess I was in remission all year," he said. "I was rediagnosed the Friday before we were supposed to go back to school for Spring term."

Roderick said he is trying to remain positive and hopes to return to campus in the fall.

Roderick has spent Spring term at home in Wareham, Mass., undergoing tests and treatment for his condition.

"More realistically, I'll be back in the winter," he said.

He said it is not always easy to deal with the reality of the risk.

"I've already had to grow up a lot faster than I thought I would have to," he said.

Ashong said she and Morey are exploring a constellation of fundraising opportunities.

"At this point, we're looking into several different alumni resources," she said.

"We're writing letters to some key people," Ashong said. "We might want to hold some fundraising events on campus."

Though doctors have found a donor, Ashong and Morey still plan to conduct a bone marrow drive, to type people for bone marrow transplants, to help other sufferers of cancer.

There will be two separate campaigns in the fall, one to raise funds for Roderick's medical expenses and another for the bone marrow drive, Ashong said.

Roderick said his family and friends are also trying to raise money at his home.

Delta Sigma Theta sorority started the drive to raise money for Roderick's treatment by accepting money at a fashion show earlier this month.

"We raised over $250 for Kyle," Delta Sigma Theta sister Tiffany West '97 said.

Throughout this term, Roderick has remained in contact with College President James Freedman, who can relate to Roderick's situation after his own experience with lymphoma.

Freedman "has helped out by giving me encouragement and telling me about his similar experiences," Roderick said.

"Everyone has been really helpful and really supportive," he added.

Freedman called Roderick "a brave and courageous young man," and said, "I am just very impressed with his courage."

He also expressed support for a bone marrow drive on campus.

"The people who take part in the drive are registered nationwide for bone marrow types," he said.

Roderick said he is looking forward to his return to the College when he is ready.

"President Freedman and [Dean of First Year Students] Peter Goldsmith have made it clear that there is still a place for me at school."

Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary defines predominantly large cell follicular lymphoma as "a rare type of follicular lymphoma with large cells that are either cleaved or non-cleaved."

"It has a poorer prognosis than other follicular lymphomas," the dictionary states.

The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology states, "More than half the cases of intermediate and high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are potentially curable."

One problem Roderick must contend with is an immune deficiency.

The deficiency "makes [the procedure] a lot riskier," he said.

Chemotherapy "destroys your own bone marrow, which produces the white blood cells in your immune system," Roderick said. "If you have an immune deficiency, it puts you at a higher risk of getting an infection when the bone marrow is killed."

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