On May 3, 2014, Shane Higgins was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and spent months at a time in the Nemours Children’s Hospital bone marrow transplant unit.
“Now, I’m all healthy and I want to give back to the community,” said Shane, 17, a senior at Appoquinimink High School. His family lives in Bear.
As part of his senior project, he has put together a Tailgate Cornhole Tournament to be held at 4:45 p.m. this afternoon, Sept. 28, outside the Appoquinimink High School football stadium, immediately before Appoquinimink’s special Thursday night home football game.
It’s a fundraiser where 25 percent of the registration fee will go to the winning team and 75 percent will go to buy games and puzzles and other things to entertain patients in the bone marrow transplant unit at Nemours/Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children.
Each team has two people and it’s $15 per person. Text 302-690-4999 to register or to ask questions. The tournament is limited to 16 teams.
Besides the cornhole tournament, Shane also has a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for the same purpose. That site is gofundme.com/shanehigginsbmtkids.
While in the bone marrow transplant unit, a patient is not allowed to leave his or her hospital room for at least a month and has minimal contact with the outside world. Any items brought into the room must be new and germ free and can’t be shared with other patients in the unit.
Last week, Shane and his family sat down for an interview about his successful fight with cancer.
In the summer before his freshman year, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent seven months of chemotherapy, which didn’t work. He couldn’t get rid of the cancer.
Then he underwent a bone marrow transplant in December of 2014, which put his cancer into remission. His sister, Kelsey Higgins, was a match and was the donator.
Despite missing his whole freshman year and leaving the hospital barely able to walk, he pushed himself both physically and mentally to regain a normal life. He found that playing baseball relieves stress, even if he just sits in the batter box.
Today, Shane maintains a 3.8 grade point average taking honors classes, plays for the Appoquinimink High School Baseball Team and works with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to help others still fighting.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society named him Student of the Year in 2016 after raising funds for research.
Shane remembers when he diagnosed with cancer. He was playing a baseball game when he noticed he was dizzy.
He and his mom, Lori, went to the Middletown Emergency Room, the staff did some blood work, and the doctor came back and said, “Dude, you have cancer.”
“It was very shocking,” said his mom
Shane didn’t have any of the usual symptoms of this type of cancer like bruising and nose bleeds.
After his diagnosis, he started the long fight with chemotherapy, biopsies, transfusions and, ultimately, a bone marrow transplant. His lost his hair, his face was swollen, and he was on steroids.
But he beat the cancer and he offers this advice for someone going through the same thing: “Focus on the positive things. Keep a sense of humor.”
He plans to attend college to become a nurse. “I wanted to go in the medical field and after three years in the hospital [for treatment]. I decided I wanted to be a nurse.”