Local student works to raise money and awareness to help end blood cancers
Nataleigh Hartman is a cancer survivor and the valedictorian at Otsego High School.
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Blood cancers are more common than not.
In fact, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reports that someone in the United States is diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma every three minutes.
The organization has a program that gets high school students involved with the effort to help find a cure for blood cancers. The Student Visionaries of the Year program is expansive, and there are teams in northwest Ohio raising money and awareness for this year’s campaign.
17-year-old Nataleigh Hartman is a senior at Otsego High School. She was diagnosed with cancer not long after her first birthday.
“When I was 16 months old, I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, which is a type of blood cancer,” Nataleigh said.
Janell Hartman, Nataleigh’s mother, said it’s been quite a journey for the family.
“She was given 8-9 chemotherapies. Some were pills that we put in chocolate syrup. Some shots went in her muscle. Others were given through an IV.”
Janell said pictures tell the story of Nataleigh’s long battle.
“What surprised me the most is that we were handed a binder for treatment plan that was for years. Not for weeks or even months. Her treatment lasted two years, two months, and six days,” Janell said.
Fortunately, for the Hartman family, the treatment worked. Nataleigh has been cancer free for more than a decade. She plays soccer and basketball, and she’s valedictorian of her class.
“I have always watched my parents raise money for LLS. We know firsthand the effect the diseases have on families, and you don’t really know who it will affect next. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through,” Nataleigh said.
Janell and her husband Doug are proud of Nataleigh’s accomplishments.
“During treatment, she developed a love of books. So we piled loads of books on the couch, and she would read, and read and read. She’s always had a love of learning,” Janell said.
Most of Natalie’s LLS fundraising team is made up of classmates at Otsego. The money they raise is under the pillar of research.
“She has a whole group of friends supporting her, wanting to give back. Hopefully, next generation parents have shorter treatments with less side effects. So they are working toward more research and better treatment options,” said Janell.
Nataleigh has made it her mission to change the world for other patients and families facing the same diagnosis she did.
“I would encourage you to donate even if it is not to my team because ultimately we all have the same goal and that’s to end blood cancers,” Nataleigh said.
Nataleigh graduates in May. She plans to attend Ohio Northern University. The LLS Student Visionaries of the Year campaign runs through March 3rd.
Natalie’s team is called Nat’s Cancer Crushing Crew.
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