IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Warrior completes chemo; Looks forward to continuing college

October 15, 2019

Abigail “Abbi” Sarabyn hopes to become a pediatric neurosurgeon. She says her recent lymphoma diagnosis has made her more determined and more compassionate toward others.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

With her best friend at her side, Abigail “Abbi” Sarabyn recently rang the bell at IU Health Simon Cancer Center signaling the end of her chemotherapy.

It was what she hopes is the end to a long and unexpected interruption in her life as a college student – planning on a career in medicine.

A 2016 graduate of Pike High School Sarabyn, 22, played volleyball most of her life. Her parents James and Kim Sarabyn said she was always healthy. They describe her as a “warrior” on the volleyball court – often coached by her father.

So it was no surprise to them when she came out fighting after a diagnosis of Diffuse Large Cell B-Cell Lymphoma (DLCBL). The cancer starts in the white blood cells and usually grows in lymph nodes- the pea-sized glands in the neck, groin, armpits and other parts of the immune system. It can grow fast but three out of four people are reportedly disease free after treatment.

At IU Health Simon Cancer Center, in the care of oncologist Dr. Jose Azar, Sarabyn learned she had fluid around her heart and tumors on each kidney, her adrenal gland and small intestine. During her weekend hospitalization her small bowel erupted and she was taken into emergency surgery.

In May she started chemotherapy – and learned that the treatment was working to reduce the mass. After a semester off of classes, she hopes to get back to IUPUI and continue working toward a career as a pediatric neurosurgeon.

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Cancer

Cancer care includes a variety of treatments, systematic therapies, surgery and clinical trials.

Lymphoma

A disease in which specialized white blood cells that normally fight infection become abnormal and reproduce.