Being a member of the Auburn Family is no gimmick and each member can explain how special it makes this university. Auburn student Lindsey Wintzinger’s experience in finding out what it truly means to have the encouragement of the Auburn family is a testament to the honesty of the phrase.
Wintzinger enjoyed her freshman year. The majority of her time was spent playing on the volleyball team, which gave her the opportunity to rejoin her older sister, Chelsea, and make new friends.
Exactly one week before she was planning to move back for her sophomore year at Auburn, Wintzinger visited her doctor in hopes of relieving a sore throat that had been bothering her for a few weeks prior. Wintzinger’s doctor diagnosed her with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects immature blood cell growth.
“Right then and there, on August 9, 2013, my whole world pretty much stopped,” Wintzinger said, “I was immediately admitted to the hospital and then transported to St. Jude's the next day.”
Wintzinger stayed at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for one week and then she, along with her family, decided to return home. In Huntsville, she continued treatment at Clearview Cancer Institute. Wintzinger endured six months of trips in and out of the hospital and six rounds of chemotherapy before being cleared into remission.
“During those six months, my immune system was knocked down by the chemo, so, in fear of catching an illness I was rarely allowed to see anyone apart from my family,” Wintzinger said.
In February of 2014, Wintzinger completed her final round of chemotherapy. Immediately following, she continued to go for regular checkups, but has recently progressed to once every three months.
“Before being diagnosed, I was beyond excited to return to Auburn and it was hard to think about all of my friends' lives continuing on at Auburn while mine was being put on hold for a year,” Wintzinger said, “I missed Auburn, my friends, game days, and, believe it or not, studying.”
The athletic teams and administration immediately showed their support after Wintzinger’s diagnosis. The volleyball team wore yellow sweatbands on their arms and ankles in Wintzinger’s honor and kept in touch with her constantly. The Auburn soccer team also sent her a card and wore yellow bands during games. Apart from the Auburn athletics, numerous sororities reached out while Wintzinger was in the hospital.
“I actually attended a volleyball game in October 2013 and surprised them all. It was a pretty emotional day,” Wintzinger said, “the support system that Auburn provided me during my setback made me feel a part of the ‘family’ more than ever before.”
Wintzinger recalls how difficult those six months were, but she credits the Auburn Family for significantly helping her to fight through it. Upon returning to Auburn in August of 2014, Wintzinger described being welcomed back with open arms and offered accommodations in any area in which she needed them.
“All in all, I’m lucky to be where I am today and I wouldn’t trade my past for anything. When you have people praying for you and holding your hand through the journey it truly determines the outcome,” Wintzinger said, “I wasn’t the only one fighting cancer, the whole Auburn Family was.”
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