My name is Nicolas Hambalek. I was born on May 25, 2007. My first ten years were filled with all the lively activities anyone could imagine for an energetic ten-year old boy. I played baseball, loved school, books, and most of all, spending time with my family. But in January of 2018, all of that changed. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Life was forever transformed like a rug yanked from under me. No more school, no more baseball, and worst of all, almost complete isolation. I immediately started my treatment plan including repeated hospitalizations for chemotherapy and radiation immediately following. My school rallied with their Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Pennies for Patients campaign in my honor, but the day of the big reveal I was so sick, I couldn’t even FaceTime into the student assembly.
The side effects from my treatments seemed unbearable, mostly mouth sores, jaw pain, and lower limb paralysis. And, I stopped growing. (GASP!) Most days I would wake up with aching pains everywhere and I wanted to cry. The only thing harder than actually going through this experience was watching my parents see me go through this. Their faces during those times remind me that the whole family fights the battle against cancer. I prayed every day for all the people in our lives that helped and supported us. The day that I rang the bell at Valley Children’s Hospital in June of 2018 signified my beating cancer. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I rang that bell not only for me, but also for my family, and our friends, and of course for the caregivers who saved me.
I am now 12 years old; I’m in 7th grade at Baird Middle School; I play baseball; and, I still love school. Although fighting cancer was a defining event in my life, it does not define me. During the past year of remission, I have personally thanked the doctors, nurses, social workers, and LVNs at the hospital and the Oncology department. And now I can thank LLS for all they do to help beat cancer. To all the volunteers at LLS, thank you for your support. I am like any other kid, and then, I know that I am not: I am a survivor. Thanks to LLS, because like me, so many others also survive and get the opportunity to live out their dreams. I am blessed to be an Honored Hero for LLS.
My name is Nicolas Hambalek and I beat cancer.