Whitney Bitner BS’18 started chemotherapy just three days before her senior year at the U. The math and statistics major had been diagnosed with nodular sclerosis classical Hodgkin lymphoma after she noticed a lump on her neck while vacationing with her family at Lake Powell.
“It was just like, ‘How can this have happened?’ ” says Bitner. Rather than postpone her schooling, she started treatment 10 days after diagnosis and finished her senior year while undergoing chemotherapy.
She says her professors and the outstanding doctors and staff at Huntsman Cancer Institute, where she received treatment, made it possible. Her professors were accommodating, and she was able to schedule treatment on days without class. Her colleagues at the Park Building, where she was a receptionist, sent her encouraging videos throughout her treatment and even threw her a surprise party on her last day of chemo.
While it was a difficult year, Bitner’s advice to anyone going through something similar is to just keep going—no matter how hard it gets. “Throughout my treatment, I was going to yoga, football games, and school,” she says. “I kept doing the things I love to do.”
A few months before graduation, Bitner received the good news that her cancer was in remission. This fall, she started graduate school at Columbia University in New York.
“My mom and I always joke that they only hire happy people [at the Huntsman Cancer Institute] because it does not feel like a hospital.”