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Senior overcomes cancer to graduate in May

Economics senior Orry Night is graduating this May from the W.P. Carey School of Business. Night battled Hodgkin's lymphoma and went into remission last year. "I have grown exponentially from my experiences," he said. (Photo by Jessie Wardarski)
Economics senior Orry Night is graduating this May from the W.P. Carey School of Business. Night battled Hodgkin's lymphoma and went into remission last year. "I have grown exponentially from my experiences," he said. (Photo by Jessie Wardarski)

Orry Night was focused on one goal after battling with cancer in 2010 — graduating from college.

The economics senior came to ASU in 2007 and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere.

The school provided Night the opportunity to meet friends, have a fun social life and attend a university with great athletic programs, he said.

During his sophomore year Night started experiencing chest pains, difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Doctors attributed his symptoms to afflictions such as acid reflex and heartburn.

After living with these symptoms for about a year, Night was determined to see as many doctors as possible so he could finally find an answer.

“I went into the doctor’s office on a Thursday, I will never forget hearing the doctor’s words when he said I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma ,” he said.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer originating in the immune system. This type of cancer is most prominent in young adults or in adults more than 55 years old, according to the American Cancer Society.

“I wanted to say everything that was on my mind to describe how I was feeling, but words wouldn’t come out,” he said.

Night weighed his treatment options for two weeks and decided to see a pediatric hematologist recommended by a family friend.

He was admitted into surgery a week after meeting his doctor and received a bone marrow biopsy, a lymph node biopsy and an implantable port to receive chemotherapy.

Night received rounds of chemotherapy from February to May 2010. He also underwent radiation treatments in June and July 2010.

“It was just another obstacle for me,” Night said. “I was so determined to get back to school for fall semester.”

The cancer officially went into remission on August 13, 2010, and Night started the fall semester only five days later.

“It was surreal,” he said. “I had to stop and take a breath to realize the magnitude of what was happening.”

Friends and family were the most important factor to help Night keep a positive attitude through his disease, Night said.

“I was blessed to have really great people in my life to get any dark thoughts out of my head,” Night said.

One friend from high school, Juan Torres, supported Night through his battle with cancer.

“I knew he needed someone there, and I was happy to be that person,” Torres said.

Despite a positive start to his remission, Night was hospitalized five weeks after the semester began because he caught pneumonia.

“My spirits were crushed after working so hard to get back,” Night said.

Night spent two weeks in a Scottsdale hospital, and the pneumonia was attributed to complications from radiation treatments.

His mom came to ASU, packed up her son’s things and waited for him to be released from the hospital.

Night was disappointed and felt defeated to return home to Fullerton, Calif., in October 2010.

“I had no intentions of coming back to ASU because I didn’t want to set myself up for failure again,” Night said.

Night had a change of heart in May 2011 after a friend convinced him to “finish what (he) started” and go back to ASU.

He returned to ASU with the help of his academic adviser, though the word “graduate” seemed so far away, Night said.

Night, now healthy, is on track to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in economics after eight semesters at ASU.

Because of his plight, Night volunteers at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society hoping to help the First Connections Program.

The First Connections Program pairs newly diagnosed patients with people who overcame a similar disease around the same age.

“Orry is extremely committed to the cause to find a cure for blood cancers,” said Jeff Zetino, patient services manager at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a nonprofit organization that aims to cure blood cancer through research, patient services and financial assistance.

Night said he was blessed to have the support through his cancer and is thankful that programs such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also provide help.

“If my story is able to help one person, than it is well worth it,” he said.


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