Cancer survivor travelling to Spain for a soccer game
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 12:19

Orchard Drive resident Sandra Frangos, a sophomore at Patapsco High, is in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Due to her work helping children with cancer, she is being sent to Spain to watch her favorite soccer team, Real Madrid.
photo by Bill Gates


PHS student to see Real Madrid play in person

by Bill Gates

    Sandra Frangos could not understand why her mother was crying.
    The General John Stricker middle school student and her mother, Charlene, had just been told by a doctor the lump under Sandra’s left arm was caused by Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
    Hence, the crying. But not from Sandra.
    “But I have the cancer; it doesn’t have me,” Sandra told her mother. “And it’s better I have it than someone who can’t handle it.”
    Sandra was 12 years old at the time.
    “When they told me I had cancer, I wasn’t worried about anything but losing my hair,” Sandra said last week. “I wasn’t worried about anything else happening down the line.”
    Sandra is now 15 and a sophomore at Patapsco High; her cancer has been in remission for well over a year.
    Her hair has grown back, and she was able to play field hockey as a freshman.
    And later this month, she’ll be flying to Spain to watch a soccer game featuring her favorite team, Real Madrid.
    See, Sandra is passionate about soccer. She’s been playing soccer since she was four years old and intended to play soccer all her life. She can tell you how many days until the start of the next World Cup tournament.
    And the Hodgkin’s lymphoma took it from her. She beat the cancer, but the chemotherapy and radiation treatments left her hip and leg bones too weak for her to resume playing soccer.
    While lying in bed, recovering from the treatments, Sandra would watch Real Madrid play on television.
    Which is likely the only way she would continue to see Real Madrid, until Sandra came to the attention of The Craig Wil-linger Fund.
    Formed in 2009, The Craig Willinger Fund seeks to improve the lives of children and young adults stricken with cancer by providing them with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience world-class soccer.
    Sandra hadn’t been sitting around waiting to be helped. After she beat cancer, she started working with different foundations, donating time to speak with children afflicted with the disease.
    “She would encourage them, tell them what it means to go through it,” Charlene said.
    While speaking at a
fundraiser for the Children’s Cancer Foundation, Frangos talked about her love for soccer.
    “A woman came up to me, said my speech was fantastic,” Sandra said. “She told me about the We Believe Foundation, asked me if I would speak for them.”
    The We Believe Foundation is a Maryland-based organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing financial support for young cancer patients.
    “They called me, told me they were very impressed with Sandra,” Charlene said. “[We Believe Foundation] called The Craig Willinger Fund, told them what Sandra did, speaking for cancer patients, and felt she was a good candidate for giving something back to her.”
    That something is the trip to Madrid, Spain.
    Sandra and Charlene will leave for the week-long trip on September 26.
    They’ll watch Real Madrid face off against rival Atletico Madrid on Sept. 29.
    When asked why Real Madrid is her favorite team, Sandra said: “Everything about it. I love the players, love the fact everyone said they would be horrible this year but they’re perfectly fine. They’re not a team, they’re a family, and you can tell that by watching them on television.”
    Oh, and there’s the little matter of star player Cristiano Ronaldo being “hot!”
    In addition to the Craig Willinger Fund and the We Believe Foundation, Sandra’s trip is being assisted by a donation from Bolton Partners, an independent employee benefits consulting firm headquartered in Baltimore.
    Sandra first became aware of her cancer when she had “a weird pain” under her arm and found a lump.
    Doctors kept telling her family it was nothing, an infection or an ingrown hair follicle, until finally discovering it was Stage 2B Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
    Sandra spent her seventh-grade year undergoing four months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation treatments.
    While it is in remission, there is a 40 percent chance it will return.
    “The treatment also leaves me more prone to other cancers,” Sandra said.
    She undergoes a breast cancer screening every two months.
    A former playground rat who spent her free time playing soccer at the North Point Government Center and who pictured herself as the next Mia Hamm, Sandra hasn’t given up on one day returning to “the beautiful game.”
    But, right now, her leg and hip bones can’t take the pounding.
    “I’ve missed so much time; it’s hard to get back into it,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll be walking and get so weak I can’t stay on my feet.”
    The Orchard Drive resident has a sister, Marie. Her father is Tony.
    In addition to watching Real Madrid, there’s also a possibility Sandra will get to visit the Real Madrid training center and meet the players.
    Emily Agueda, the Craig Willinger Fund chairperson, told Sandra she might get the opportunity to sit and speak with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
    “No, I won’t,” Sandra said she told Agueda. “Because I will be passed out on the floor.”