Out of the blue

by Lydia Wiggins, Reporter

On October 3, 2002, Abby Chapman and her family arrived at the St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois with an eerie concern–leaving their vacation in a hurry as her parents were frightened by how she turned blue in the hotel swimming pool.

Abby Kay Chapman is a Meridian cheerleader, FCS president, and secretary of SADD. Many people know her as Abby from Blue Mound, but she is so much more. She has been cheerleading throughout almost her entire Meridian career, along with taking dance and marching band.

Many of you might not know Chapman suffers from foot drop, a neurological muscular disorder. The condition can be caused by nerve injury or spinal cord disorders. Abby is a special case, her foot drop was caused by cancer. Chapman was diagnosed with liver cancer when she was only three years old.

“My parents were all upset, they actually noticed whenever I ate, my stomach got really hard.”

Abby doesn’t remember much from that time, but she does remember her doctors and child life specialist. She smiles as she recalls the specialist. “Before you’d go to surgeries, they would have flavored chapstick to put around the masks, so that’s what you smelled,” Abby says it helped her get through ten to twelve procedures at only three years old.

Chapman’s best friend Lauren Bafford says, “Abby having cancer has made her stronger, and it has made her the person she is today.” Abby has known Lauren for fourteen years and was already cancer free by the time they met in preschool.

Thankfully she only had cancer for six months and survived the scary disease, but she now has foot drop. It was caused by the cisplatin chemotherapy weakening her knees. That is why she took dance classes growing up to help strengthen her knee. She retired two years ago since her dance studio in Taylorville closed and she doesn’t want to drive to Springfield every week. She now participates in Meridian’s cheer squad to keep her knees strong and loves every second of it.

Abby wants future and present cancer patients to remember to, “Stay strong, let your family support you, and remember to keep your head up.”