Nolte stay­ing #Nik­iStrong ahead of bone mar­row trans­plant

Kutz­town grad, Penn St. fresh­man re­main­ing pos­i­tive in the face of 2nd can­cer di­ag­no­sis

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - Cour­tesy Penn State ath­let­ics

Niko­lette Nolte con­tin­ues to fight the tough­est bat­tle of her life. One that has put her swim­ming and col­lege ca­reer on hold. But she’s never let that af­fect her at­ti­tude or the way she con­tin­ues to be a light and in­spi­ra­tion to those around her.

Nolte was di­ag­nosed with lym­phoma in April of 2017. Af­ter un­der­go­ing more than four months of chemo­ther­apy, she was de­clared can­cer­free in Au­gust of that year.

But just three months ago, on the cusp of a bud­ding col­le­giate swim­ming ca­reer, Nolte was di­ag­nosed with acute lym­phoblas­tic leukemia as a re­sult of her lym­phoma treat­ment and had to take a break from school to re­turn home for more chemo­ther­apy.

Up next for Nolte is a bone mar­row trans­plant, with her sis­ter Krys­tal be­ing the donor af­ter the fam­ily found out that her sis­ter was a match. As far as the surgery goes, it’s a sim­ple trans­fu­sion for Nolte while her sis­ter un­der­goes the op­er­a­tion.

“The ac­tual trans­plant, a lot of peo­ple think it’s a surgery. I thought it was go­ing to be a surgery. It’s not,” Nolte said. “My sis­ter has the surgery, and they take the bone mar­row from her pelvis, and they just put it in a bag, and it goes into me like a blood trans­fu­sion.”

Nolte says the fact that her sis­ter, a 2016 Kutz­town grad­u­ate who at­tends Le­banon Val­ley Col­lege, was will­ing to do this has strength­ened their bond so much, and their fam­ily is so blessed to have this op­por­tu­nity to bring even more unity dur­ing this chal­leng­ing time.

“It’ll prob­a­bly be in­cred­i­bly emo­tional, we’re all go­ing to cry,” Nolte said. “It’ll be a re­ally cool mo­ment and I know that it’s a mo­ment my fam­ily and I will cher­ish. It’s been very tough, and it’ll be re­ally cool to know that she was able to do this for me and I’ll be so grate­ful. This has brought us so much closer to­gether.”

The trans­plant was ini­tially sched­uled for De­cem­ber 27, a date Nolte re­ferred to as her “new birth­day” but has since been post­poned. None­the­less, Nolte has never let her pos­i­tiv­ity break even though her pa­tience has been tested, also tak­ing a cou­ple of pos­i­tives from her treat­ment.

“I def­i­nitely have a higher pain tol­er­ance than I thought,” Nolte said. “I used to be afraid of nee­dles and in­jec­tions, but now I get them all the time. I’ve learned pa­tience as well, and even in the tough­est of times, you can still keep a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. A lot of peo­ple say this can break you and this can break fam­i­lies, and I’ve un­for­tu­nately seen it. But me keep­ing that pos­i­tive mind­set has helped not only me and my treat­ment but also my fam­ily and friends know that we can all get through this to­gether.”

She con­tin­ues to re­ceive an out­pour­ing of en­cour­age­ment from the Penn State ath­let­ics com­mu­nity as well as the swim­ming com­mu­nity as a whole. The hash­tag #Nik­iStrong has spent time trend­ing on Twit­ter as swim­mers from around the coun­try con­tinue to show their love.

“I’m thank­ful for the sup­port, es­pe­cially the me­dia sup­port to raise more aware­ness for pe­di­atric can­cer,” Nolte said.

The sup­port goes both ways, as Nolte has be­come an in­spi­ra­tion to young girls go­ing through the same ex­pe­ri­ences, es­pe­cially in one par­tic­u­lar area.

Nolte hopes to re­sume classes and to swim at some point dur­ing the spring, but un­til then, she’ll con­tinue to live her life with the pos­i­tiv­ity and per­se­ver­ance she has shown through­out this en­tire process.

Those look­ing to sup­port Nolte in her fight can do­nate to her at www.gofundme. com/nik­istrong. The pro­ceeds will go to Nolte’s can­cer treat­ment, with any ex­cess money raised go­ing to THON and the Jessie Rees Foun­da­tion, two or­ga­ni­za­tions that sup­port the fight against pe­di­atric can­cer.

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