Upon entering the doctor’s office, one of the last things a person wants to hear is that they have been diagnosed with cancer.
Evan Arbogast, a senior industrial and systems engineering major, received this unfortunate news last August. Like many cancer patients, he was forced to face a strange disease he didn’t know much about in a matter of days.
Evan had just been backpacking in China and working as an intern before realizing anything was wrong. It wasn’t until he arrived in the United States that his lengthy journey with cancer began.
“I got back, and I got off the airplane, and my girlfriend was waiting for me at the airport,” Evan said. “She noticed that the left side of my neck was really large and swollen. I figured I had pulled a muscle or picked up a virus.”
Knowing something was wrong, but unaware of the severity of his condition, he made an appointment with his doctor in search of an answer. After being examined for what seemed like a short period of time, he was surprised when his doctor moved quickly to begin tests.
“(The doctor) told me that they needed to get me a chest X-ray right away — and this was around 7 or 8 o’clock at night,” Evan said. “The X-ray department was actually closed, and he called over and basically followed me to the hospital (even though it wasn’t open at the time).”
Evan quickly understood that the small bump on his neck was no virus.
“I started realizing this must be serious for them to be opening up the hospital to get me this X-ray,” he said.
After a week of undergoing numerous tests, Evan learned that he had Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood and lymphatic system.
“Your lymph nodes are where your white blood cells go to die or dispose of bacteria. They learn how to fight. The type (of cancer) I have is basically a glitch of the lymph node,” he said. “It pro
duces mutant white blood cells so they don’t die. They fill up the lymph nodes and create a block of too many mutant white blood cells basically.”
Although he initially thought his neck was the only problem area in his body, Evan later found out that he had a large tumor in the center of his chest. The tumor was less noticeable because of its location in his chest cavity, but luckily, it was found before it spread.
In the wake of his diagnosis, Evan’s friends and family came together to support their overwhelmed and stressed loved one.
His sister Jessica Arbogast, a junior business management major, remembers the moment she found out about her brother’s diagnosis — the information was difficult to swallow, as she is close with her sibling.
“He was diagnosed Aug. 9, 2011. It didn’t set in for a really long time until I went to one of his chemo treatments with him. It really hit me,” Jessica said. “All of the odds are for him, and the type of cancer he had had a very good survival rate, but I thought something could go wrong.”
Recently, after undergoing six months of radiation and chemotherapy, Evan was declared cancer-free. However, he is still recovering from the grueling treatment.
Even in this stage, Evan’s fight against cancer remains a prominent part of his life, and he has always known that he wanted to help others beat the odds like he did. He decided to do this by raising money for cancer research.
“Evan’s fraternity and my sorority have both donated a lot of money, and our church at home held a spaghetti dinner,” Jessica said.