By: Melissa Carrick
Sarah Ludinich “Soon to be cancer survivor”
Jan. 9 brought the beginning of a new semester for UF students. Most students dread returning to classes, but Sarah Ludinich, junior physical therapy major at the University of Findlay would have given anything to be in class with her peers that Monday morning.
“Monday night I was sitting down crocheting and I realized that my only goal right now was to finish this blanket and that was a really hard moment because just a few months ago I was on my way to being a doctor,” said Ludinich.
Instead of starting school, Ludinich started the day with her first round of chemotherapy.
“I should be having my first day of classes, instead I’m having my first day of chemo. Don’t worry I’m still Oily,” shared Ludinich via Twitter.
Ludinich was diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer on Nov. 18, just a day after her 21st birthday.
“It was totally blindsiding and brought a whole whirl wind of decisions I had to make right away. The decisions I thought I would be making at 21 completely changed,” said Ludinich.
Last semester Ludinich was working out and laid on her stomach to do an exercise when she felt something in her stomach. After consulting with a friend she decided she better get it checked out.
“So that’s when we went to The James (Cancer Hospital) in Columbus,” said Ludinich.
The lump in her stomach ended up being a basketball sized tumor attached to her left ovary. The medical staff informed Ludinich she may have to have a hysterectomy. Her main concern was whether or not she would be able to have children one day.
After surgery to remove the tumor, Ludinich was informed that she would be able to have children.
“The only thing I’ve wanted to be in life is a mom,” Ludinich said. “When I got out of surgery I wanted to know right away if I could have kids and apparently when I found out I could that was all I talked about.”
Ludinich is now completing nine weeks of chemo ending March 6, the first day of UF’s spring break. Because of the intensity of the chemo Ludinich has taken off the semester and will return to classes during the summer.
“Chemo is a lot harder than I thought it would be, I pictured myself still going to work and working out and it’s not like that at all,” Ludinich said. “It’s straining, so a lot of the times I spend my days on the couch and most of my calls are from doctors so It’s the topic of a lot of conversations.”
That doesn’t keep her away from Findlay though. Ludinich was able to come to Findlay on Jan. 18 to watch her boyfriend, Trey, wrestle.
“I was excited because I had chemo the day before so I didn’t know how I would feel,” said Ludinich.
Thanks to UF faculty, Ludinich was able to finish fall semester’s classes online since she had already completed 13 of the 16 week semester.
“All of my professors were super supportive. Dr. Peck got me in contact with everyone I needed to and told me to go home and not worry about school and it was really comforting to have that kind of support from professors,” said Ludinich.
The Oiler Success Center is also a great resource for students with any kind of health issue, whether it be cancer, an athletic injury or a death in the family. Kathleen Koch, director of the Oiler Success Center, notifies instructors and advisors for a student in the case of an upcoming surgery or an emergency.
“My job is to give students options and I do the leg work for it. Whatever it may be, the last thing you want to do is contact everybody, so our goal is to simplify it for the student and make it as easy of a transition as possible,” said Koch.
According to Koch, in Ludinich’s case faculty were able to work with her to give her additional time and options in completing the semester because no student wants to put all of that effort into a class and then have to start over.
Ludinich has remained positive throughout this process with the help of her support system and everything she has to look forward to after chemo.
“I’m going to come back to school and I’ll finish my degree and live life normally once this is all over,” said Ludinich.
Ludinich encourages women to get checked out, especially if they feel something is wrong.
“If you think something is wrong go do something about it, I had a basketball sized tumor and it didn’t grow there overnight,” said Ludinich.
According to Julia Yingling, director of Cosiano Health Services and advisor for Colleges against Cancer, anyone who is 18 years old should have a yearly exam, especially if they are sexually active.
“A female exam is so key for our female students,” said Yingling.
The Cosiano Health Center has a Womankind Clinic that provides confidential and caring services to the University community. Shirley D. Cole, CNM, MS, provides physical exams for women and many other services including birth control, breast exams, counseling and more. Cole is in on Wednesday’s from 1-4 p.m.
Yingling also mentioned the popular Relay for Life event that will take place in April and teams can sign up in honor of Ludinich Ludinich.
“We relay in honor of people who are fighting and won and to remember people who fought the battle and lost, and we relay in hope of a cure,” said Yingling.