By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(May 3, 2019) After all the support she received while battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, April Eichelberger wanted to give back.
She will co-host a fundraiser this Friday at Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon on 28th Street in Ocean City, beginning at 8 p.m.
Eichelberger was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in April 2018. The second grade teacher at Buckingham Elementary School is now in remission, and she hopes the event will serve as a reminder of her courageous battle and help others in their fight with the disease.
“It’s because of the research that they’re doing that myself and other people in my position have a chance,” Eichelberger said.
Eichelberger said a portion of food and drink sales would benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is dedicated to finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease and myeloma.
The organization also works to “improve the quality of life of patients and their families.”
Prior to her diagnosis, Eichelberger began experiencing skin rashes, allergies and felt tired. She later found out they “were precursors to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” she said.
She started exercising more as a way to get healthier and even participated in the St. Patrick’s Day 5K race last year.
In the days leading up to her diagnosis, she said she often “had to sit down to teach” because she was tired.
Eichelberger reflected on the day she, her husband and son were driving to his lacrosse game.
“I had pain down my arm, in my chest, trouble breathing, I was hot, nauseous and in tears,” Eichelberger said in her fundraising post. “I told my husband, Jeff, I thought I was having a heart attack and he took me straight to the closet hospital, Beebe Healthcare in Delaware.”
A doctor told Eichelberger she had a 10-centimeter mass on her heart.
Eichelberger said she started R-CHOP, a standard of care and was treated in Baltimore with six rounds of chemotherapy between May 8 and Aug. 21, 2018.
During her health journey, Eichelberger said faith and religion was paramount.
“We have prayed throughout the entire process,” she said.
She learned she was in remission in September 2018, and “everything seemed fine.” A few months later, in December, she said she had a pet scan that “lit up,” and there was “99 percent certainty [that] it was back.”
This prompted doctors to do a biopsy, which Eichelberger said came back inconclusive. She then had a second biopsy done, and she said her doctors told her, “‘OK you’re in the 1 percent. It’s not there. We can’t explain it, but it’s not there.’”
She was overjoyed.
“I feel like it’s a blessing, and I’m just grateful, and we’ll call it a miracle, and I’m totally fine with that,” Eichelberger said.
Eichelberger, 43, said she is grateful for the work being done to treat the diseases like hers, and referenced a clinical trial called CAR T-cell therapy for lymphoma, that has a success rate of more than 80 percent, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
“If it weren’t for the new science that is taking place right now, and it had come back, it would have been a very grim outlook,” she said.
Eichelberger said she took a leave of absence from her teaching job for eight weeks from January to March, and has been back at school for about a month.
Eichelberger and her husband created an online fundraising campaign, and she said she is “hoping to grow the fundraiser.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the site has raised $725. The goal is $10,000. Six people have contributed over the last eight days.
To donate, visit crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/attack-cancer-with-ape?utm_campaign=oc&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=crowdrise&fbclid=IwAR363WZ7SojGdsIgZWnbAMpRBr7guajDcxi-7o4uB0pcgd5Fn9ybVBBz64g.