Nolte staying #NikiStrong ahead of bone marrow transplant
Kutztown grad, Penn St. freshman remaining positive in the face of 2nd cancer diagnosis
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.