Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dallas Light The Night Honored Hero: Raina Stoescu

Raina Stroescu at the 2015 Dallas Light The Night Walk
The Light The Night Walk (LTN) to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) celebrates participants in all stages of a cancer battle - patients, survivors, caregivers, friends and family.  Each year the LTN team selects a couple honored heroes for each walk site to serve as inspiration.

Raina Stroescu is one of the 2016 honored heroes for the Dallas Mega Walk.  As you read her story, as told by her mother, you will see why she was chosen for this honor.  She is the embodiment of what an honored hero should be - determined, optimistic, dedicated, and selfless.

"Raina Elizabeth Stroescu was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma early stage 2A on July 30, 2015.  The following week, after undergoing a variety of tests and scans, the staging was confirmed and the course of treatment was set and presented to us by the assigned oncology team. She had her port implanted a few days after, giving herself the new name  “The Terminator”, never doubting that her cancer would be terminated.

And that’s exactly what she did with the help of her wonderful team of doctors and nurses.

In early August she began the difficult journey of healing, starting with two rounds of  chemotherapy,  infusions and prescriptions. While this journey was hard on her and us as parents, Raina nor we ever doubted that the outcome would be anything but positive.

Her first day entering a new high school where she was the “new “ girl was also the day she had to leave early to have her last chemotherapy session of her first round.  There were a lot of firsts and lasts that happened during that week.  Hair loss was a 50/50 possibility and by the end of that week it was evident that she would lose her hair. Again in this moment Raina overcame her fears and dealt with this challenge as she had with all of the diagnosis, in an amazingly positive and confident manner, even throwing in some of her great sense of humor, naming her new wig “Lizzie” …yes she named her wig.  She went to school with a new look, her head held up high and bearing her same familiar smile and positive attitude.

This  amazing attitude, mental toughness and her faith carried her all the way through the second round of chemotherapy.  She continued to go to school and practice with her club soccer team as much as possible on the days she felt good and had enough energy. She even tried out for her high school varsity soccer team as a freshman and ultimately made the team.

Our amazing daughter set an outstanding example for all those around her on how to manage challenges.  Her teammates and friends saw her without her long hair wearing only a Nike headband on her head and saw her JUST DO IT. Her classmates saw her attend class and stick with her projects as best she could.

In October after her chemotherapy ended she had her scans again to find out if the cancer was gone. The chemo worked and thankfully the scans showed no signs of cancer.  Her treatment protocol required follow up with low-dose localized radiation therapy to her neck and upper chest area to ensure that even the tiniest cancer cells that may have been missed by the recent scans after chemotherapy were completely “terminated”.  Radiation was not painful for her but rather time consuming and involved some long-term risks that had to be considered. However, all of us felt very confident in the competency and ability of our excellent medical team at UT Southwestern and getting over this final hurdle.  She completed the radiation treatment plan mid-November right after her 15th birthday and just in time for a great and very special Thanksgiving celebration.

Raina was asked by her former elementary school to be their honored hero to launch their Pasta for Pennies campaign for LLS. She presented a speech to the school, parents and faculty that day bringing tears to our eyes as she said to them,  “Don’t let your challenges control you. Take control of your challenges”.

Another awesome event was coordinated with her Sting Soccer club team and church youth group as they formed Team Raina to walk in the 2015 Light the Night Walk supporting LLS.
These events were definite highlights as they both raised awareness, especially among her peers, giving Raina the opportunity to share her story of hope.

We are extremely blessed and grateful Raina is cancer free today.  Neither her or us could have gone through this difficult time without great support from family and friends and a wonderfully compassionate medical team…making all the difference in our world.

Raina will be on a maintenance plan of doctor visits, scans and checkups for the next several years but she will keep on shining her loving light as she has since she was born."

Inspired by Raina?  Consider walking alongside her on Sunday, November 6th at the Dallas Mega Walk at Trinity Groves.  Registration is now open.

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