SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Childhood cancer is an issue that affects many families. But in honor of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, a Sioux Falls girl is telling her cancer story to raise awareness for others facing their battles with cancer.
In January of this year, 15-year-old Rowan Friske and her mom noticed a lump on her neck. After multiple tests, doctors diagnosed her with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“This is scary, like nobody prepares you to hear the words your child has cancer,” Tawnya Friske, mother.
“I remember one of the first things she said ‘I didn’t come this far to come this far, I’m not going to die of cancer.’ And I said ‘Nice.’ Like, that’s my girl,” Tawnya said.
Rowan was in and out of Sanford’s Children’s Hospital for the next few months. There she says she worked through her body image issues with hair loss and her shunt.
“Over time, I hated it less and less. Instead of seeing it as like, some ugly metal thing just inside of me. Instead, it was like, something that helped to keep me alive. And like, especially at the end of treatment, I was definitely like, more grateful for it,” Rowan Friske, cancer survivor said.
Her mom Tawnya, says Rowan was persistent and optimistic throughout treatments, with the help of her new friend Fletchie.
“There were a lot of days that I drew my strength from Rowan. She is a very spunky kid but has what I refer to as an old soul. There’s just always been something very mature and positive about her outlook on life,” Tawnya said.
Rowan has been in remission since May. She now wants to tell her story to inspire others…
“Just like take things slow, you don’t have to do all the activities you did before treatment right away. Just kind of take it one step at a time and wait until you’re ready to do those things again,” Rowan said.
…and let them know they are not alone.
“The support is there. And whatever that looks like for everybody with fan friends, family support, whatever the case may be, but you do get through it,” Tawnya said.
Rowan has been back with the marching band at Lincoln High School. She performed with her classmates on Friday at the Lincoln versus O’Gorman game.