After a childhood bout with cancer, Casey Nordstrom is ready for new challenges

Published 6:40 am Sunday, July 30, 2000

By By Michael S. Hill
Advance Staff Writer
Dennis and Hazel Nordstrom's daughter Casey recently signed a scholarship to play softball for Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. She platooned as a pitcher and a first baseman for the Leon High School Lady Lions in Tallahassee, Fla. She helped the Lady Lions to a regional championship and a final four appearance in the Florida 6A State Championships.
Right about now, you're probably thinking, "Well, good for her."
Good? How about unbelievable?
You see, Casey was diagnosed with leukemia in 1988 when she was 6 years old. She spent the next two years undergoing chemotherapy. She "practically lived at the hospital" for three years, forever giving blood samples and being tested.
She remembers first hearing about her disease.
But her parents knew exactly what the prognosis meant. Hazel, a graduate of Escambia County High School, said she was terrified by the news.
Dennis, who graduated from Ernest Ward before its high school was moved, echoed his wife's sentiments.
Dennis said it was important to try to keep Casey's life as normal as possible.
Casey continued her chemotherapy after leaving the hospital. She said sometimes the treatment was nearly unbearable.
But Casey made it through that ordeal. The next obstacle for Caseyschool.
We've all heard the oft-used "kids can be so cruel" comment. But with a little help from her best friends and her school guidance counselor, Casey's school days were normal … at least as normal as a little girl without hair might expect.
Hazel said throughout her battle with the disease, Casey kept her chin up and continued to play softball despite the weakness normally associated with chemotherapy.
And then finally in 1990, good news. The leukemia was in remission, and Casey was going to be okay. Hazel recalled how she felt at the news.
Dennis also gives praise to a higher power.
The Nordstroms also gave thanks to the staff at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, in particular Casey's doctor, Thomas Jenkins.
Casey, now 18 and the proud owner of long, dark hair, is set to start college in the fall. But she's bound to miss her parents.
Casey said she's considering studying to become a sports psychologist or an athletic trainer for a sports team. She plans to transfer to the University of Alabama after junior college. She said she's undecided about playing softball in Tuscaloosa, but there is definitely one more team she'd like to play on.
And what's to stop her? There's nothing holding Casey back now. Her advice to people suffering from leukemia is a testament to her own willpower.
Listen to Casey. She should know.

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