- Associated Press - Monday, October 31, 2016

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - When Sydney Senior was diagnosed with Stage 3 Burkitt’s non-Hodgkins lymphoma, her oncologist recalls the first words out of the 12-year-old’s mouth were, in jest, “who’s going to lose your hair with me?”

Although she put on a brave face at the time of her diagnosis, Sydney’s grapefruit-sized tumor was doubling every 48 hours, the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/2eQ5UAZ ) reported. She was rushed to Minnesota where she received surgery and her first round of aggressive chemotherapy - one side effect was the elimination her immune system.

“At first I just thought I was going to fight it but then I got an infection (Clostridium difficile) right in the beginning,” she said. “In that time period, I thought I was going to die.”

The treatment was often administered up to eight straight days, which progressively weakened her during her 110-day hospital stay. Her mother remained steadfast by her side while she fought on and her father looked after her siblings in North Dakota.

“I wished that I could take her place,” her mother Deanna Senior said. She remembered sitting at Sydney’s bedside just watching her breathe while she slept. “Now she will never have a relapse because I took that from her.”

One year to the day of Sydney’s diagnosis, the doctor had the same conversation with her mother. A small mass was found confirming breast cancer.

“The fear of Sydney’s relapse was almost paralyzing, it was all encompassing,” Deanna Senior recalled. “For a whole year it was constant, it was all I thought about. When I was diagnosed my worry went away. I thought, ‘She’ll never have cancer again.’”

There was laughter and tears as the two bounced stories between them in an attempt to alleviate the heaviness of the room.

Deanna Senior began radiation treatment following the removal of the cancerous mass. She’s now been eight weeks cancer-free, 14 months for Sydney who now boasts short, wavy red hair.

They travel together to Minnesota for checkups, bonded in their defiance of cancer. Sydney has become the face of resilience and an ambassador for multiple cancer foundations.

“You never realize how strong you are or how strong your children are until you go through something like this,” Deanna Senior said. “She had more strength than I could have expected.”

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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