Finding Good in the Bad

Casidie Gil interviewing Sofia Lavdiotis

Sitting across from me was a beautiful young woman with a gleaming smile and genuine eyes. You couldn’t detect that she had gone through the unthinkable. As a cancer survivor at age 20, the only evidence I had from her appearance was her shiny blonde hair, which was just starting to grow back.

Sofia Lavdiotis was born in Piedmont, California. She attended an all women's college for the first year at a university. She then decided to transfer to the University of Nevada, Reno after her previous college dropped the major she was aspiring to graduate with. Sofia is studying as a secondary health education major, striving to become a sexual education teacher in the future. She is also a writer for The Odyssey, a popular platform for authors to publish articles about what is important to them.

“It was a really nice outlet to be able to just say what was on my mind and it’s really cool to be able to write about anything that you want,” Sofia explains.

Sofia explained that being able to write allowed her to have a place where she could talk about her experience with cancer and relate it to other issues.

As she began to discuss how she found the cancer, her bubbly and outgoing personality still shined. She explained that she noticed a mass at the base of her neck, which was obviously concerning. After many doctors appointments, she had a CAT scan and found that the results were not good. She had Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Because of her positive outlook on things, she decided to focus on taking the next step, versus dwelling on the fact that she had cancer.

The next step was to alert her teachers, family, and friends of the news. She took a leave of absence from school, and had to decide what the best way to let the members of her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, know the bad news.

“It was really hard because I knew I was going to cry about it, and that was the first time I had cried about it, when I had to tell 200 of the people I love the most, at a chapter meeting is how I did it,” said Sofia.

She explained how telling her sisters was one of the hardest parts of actually having cancer. She said that before this moment, she hadn’t cried about it, or even really accepted the fact that she had cancer.

“Everyone was really supportive, like hey if you need something let me know,” Sofia recalled.

She explained how her friends were almost a better support system than her family, because they were her same age and knew the right way to comfort and encourage her. Sofia said that her sisters were always there for her, even girls who she wouldn’t have expected to be.

“I’ve had a really great support system, I think it’s a different support system then I had expected, but in the best way possible,” Sofia said.

Sofia found comfort in her friends who drove her to her doctors appointments, who made her laugh and reminded her that it would all be okay. And here she is today, done with chemotherapy, her cancer in remission, and her blonde baby hair growing back.

Although she is set back a year, she looks forward to learning and finally getting her degree, and later being able to fulfill her goal of being a sexual education teacher.

“You can plan your life out all you want, but you really have no idea about where it’s actually going to go,” Sofia says.

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