Two adults look into each others eyes

Community Spotlight: A Conversation with Molly Gorczyca

Editors note: Recently, Blood-Cancer.com had the opportunity to sit down with Molly Gorczyca, a senior at Rowan University who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at age 19.

Molly Gorczyca, a 19-year-old Rowan University sophomore field hockey player, received a call from her doctor in April 2019 that would turn life as she knew it upside down.

After noticing that she was becoming more fatigued while playing field hockey, falling behind during running drills, and losing her appetite, Molly went to her doctor who recommended some routine blood tests. Although she knew something wasn’t right, she pressed on and went back to school to get ready for an upcoming exam.

The phone call that changed her life

While she was walking to her exam she received a phone call from her doctor. He was firm and urged Molly to get to an emergency room immediately for more tests, so she dropped everything and headed to Cooper Medical Center.

Her medical team at Cooper was able to diagnose her with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) on the spot and got her in an ambulance to head straight to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Molly began chemotherapy the next day. Her treatments were no walk in the park as she ended up in the ICU due to a sinus infection.

One day, Molly was scrolling through social media and happened to come across a post that mentioned a “Warrior Battling Cancer”. She noticed that the warrior was a local boy named Ryan who was battling the exact same cancer she was, AML.

At this point, Molly had been through chemotherapy, a transplant, hair loss, and everything else that comes with a cancer diagnosis, and decided to reach out and offer her support to the fellow cancer warrior. Ryan was a student-athlete himself, a basketball player at East Stroudsburg University.

Ryan welcomed Molly’s support and they quickly became friends, messaging back and forth and keeping each other company. “It was so nice to have someone who knew what each other was going though. We might not have had the exact same experience, but we understood each other.”

More in common than just blood cancer

Ryan and Molly each told their parents about their new friend and the families ended up visiting and connecting with each other! Ryan and his family came to visit Molly a second time when she was staying in the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia and invited her to watch a basketball game at West Chester University. Molly and Ryan started to realize that this relationship might be more than just a supportive friend.

They continued to stay in contact and began talking more frequently while they were going through treatment. The two officially became a couple in March 2020, right before Ryan’s transplant in April. Molly was a huge source of support for Ryan during this time as she had been through a transplant the year before. Their parents also kept in contact and realized as parents and as caregivers for their children battling cancer, they have a lot in common too!

Ryan and Molly continue to support each other through their cancer journey, but their relationship is much deeper than each having the same diagnosis. They are both the same age, from the same area, both are student-athletes, and their dads even have the same first name!

They are both currently in remission and Molly’s 1-year post-transplant anniversary is coming up on October 30, 2020.

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