Kicking Cancer’s Kass


Bryce Buscher

Kassandra Longoria featured image.

Bryce Buscher, Staff Writer

Imagine what it would be like to spend day after day, month after month, in a hospital bed. Some days unable to walk, some days unable to even move. For Sage Creek senior Kassandra Longoria, this is not just an imagination, this is a reality.

To say that Kassandra has been through a lot would be an understatement. In 2011, Kassandra was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a life-threatening immunodeficiency. Three months of chemotherapy prevailed in this first go around, helping Kassandra beat cancer for a first time. Two years later in 2013, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma– a cancer that develops from lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). After eight months of chemotherapy, a bone-marrow transplant on June 6, 2014, helped Kassandra defeat cancer for what she thought was the last time. “The stellar support of my friends and family, and seeing people go through things that are even worse than what I am going through makes me feel like I am the lucky one,” Kassandra responded when asked how she deals with all the pain.

Going away party for Kassandra Longoria.

After a seemingly flawless recovery, everything was looking better for Kassandra. Then tragedy struck in June 2016. During the last couple weeks of her junior year, Kassandra began experiencing spontaneous nose bleeds throughout the day. Upon visiting the doctor she received devastating news. The nosebleeds were due to a formation of Leukemia (a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow), and Kassandra’s life took a complete 180. “I remember the doctor walking in and telling me that 12 percent of my blood cells were cancerous,” said Kassandra. “The moment he said that my heart sank. I wanted to give up. I didn’t know if I had the strength in me to fight anymore.”

Well that mind-set did not last for long. In a few days Kassandra was back on her feet, ready to go round after round with yet another deadly disease. As summer started, treatment started. Throughout the summer Kassandra was constantly in and out of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego receiving low-maintenance chemo. Kassandra was consistently supported by her friends and family– primarily her best friend, Sage Creek senior Sterling Southerland. “The best thing about Kassandra is that she always has a positive attitude, and always wants to be active and do things even when she is in pain,” Sterling stated when speaking about some of Kassandra’s best qualities.

Sterling Southerland with Kassandra Longoria in the hospital

Having her friends around to keep her mind off the negatives is what keeps Kassandra going strong. That is why the hardest part of this battle did not even begin until September 12, the day that Kassandra left for Washington. “Leaving home is the hardest for me because I don’t have the in-person support of my friends and I can’t help but feeling isolated and alone,” Kassandra revealed.

Kassandra was sent up to Rady Children’s Hospital in Washington to be part of a clinical trial in receiving “T-cell therapy.” This treatment consists of doctors removing cancerous blood cells from your body, cleaning them, and then injecting them back into your body to attack and hopefully overwhelm the cancerous cells still inside. After living next door to Kassandra during everything that she’s been through, Sage Creek senior Keegan Canfield is positive that she can overcome any odds. “Kassandra has a positive outlook on everything and I am certain that she will be able to beat whatever she is up against,” Keegan asserted.

Kassandra does not plan on quitting now or ever. Assuming the treatment in Washington goes as planned, she could be back in California as soon as late October, and will be en route to defeating cancer for a third time.

“Everything I have been through will only have a positive effect on my future,” Kassandra declared. “I plan on attending college and working to become a nurse so that one day I can help people that were in the same situation as me.”