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College student recovering from bone marrow transplant

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

College student recovering from bone marrow transplant

When she discovered the mass two years ago, Mayra Rodriguez completed treatment at IU Health Simon Cancer Center. Now she’s back again.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

She has her sights set on a career with a focus on social justice and equality. And the sooner she recovers, the sooner she can get back on track as a student at IUPUI.

It was 2018 when Mayra Rodriguez found a mass under her right armpit. It didn’t hurt so she thought she might have an ingrown hair or something simple like acne. But when she eventually felt pain, her doctor biopsied the growth – about the size of softball. Rodriguez was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer that starts in the lymph nodes.

Under the care of IU Health oncologist/hematologist Dr. Sherif Farag she completed six rounds of chemotherapy.

“I was fully recovered but then after nine months, I had a relapse,” said Rodriguez, who turns 22 this month. She returned to IU Health and recently underwent a bone marrow transplant.

“I really like everyone at IU Health. It’s a very loving environment,” said Rodriguez. “The day I got here I had a bad reaction to the chemotherapy and one of the nurses spent a lot of time helping me calm down and focus on my breathing. They make a special effort to assure me it’s going to be all right. They are all very genuine.”

While she focuses on her health, Rodriguez is hopeful she will return to her college classes soon. As a student at Indiana Math and Science Academy she was co-captain of the volleyball team and served on the prom committee. She transferred to Ben Davis High School her senior year and after graduation enrolled in IUPUI as a Policy Studies major. The program prepares graduates to analyze and assess existing and proposed laws. She eventually hopes to use her major to focus on immigration practices.

“My grandparents and my parents are Salvadoran immigrants and they had it fairly easy once they got here and got their citizenship but I see so many other families who don’t have the resources to actually become an American citizen,” said Rodriguez. “My mom came when she was young and learned English quickly as opposed to others who cross and don’t know any English. I just see how fortunate my family is, how quickly they overcame obstacles and that has pushed me into a field that can do something that matters to others.” Her parents are Mayra and Douglas Rodriguez. She has one older and two younger siblings.

At IUPUI, Rodriguez is involved in a Latina sorority and says she strives to maintain positive relationships with people involved in her education.

“I believe in equality and it’s not something I take lightly,” said Rodriguez. “I think if I had a motto it would be: ‘The land is not ours as a nation. We came upon it but it wasn’t ours.’ We all need to work together to make this a better place to live.”

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