To the average onlooker, Lindsay Payne is a regular 17-year-old. She just graduated from Jeffersonville High School this May and is looking forward to attending Indiana University Southeast this fall. Talking to her, you would never guess that the young lady standing before you once waged a tumultuous battle with cancer.
Payneâ€™s cancer journey began at a young age. â€œWhen I was 2, I was first diagnosed with leukemia, and it relapsed when I was 5,â€ she explains. â€œI had radiation and chemo and a blood transplant â€“ the whole nine yards!â€ As she approaches her 12th anniversary of remission â€“ coming up on July 31 â€“ Payne is looking forward to celebrating it at one of her favorite places: Indian Summer Camp.
â€œIndian summer camp is a weeklong camp for kids with cancer, ages 6 to 18,â€ Payne says. â€œYouâ€™re in cabins with different boys and girls your age and different counselors. And the whole week you have different activities like swimming and arts and crafts, and they feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner. You just have a schedule of events each day.â€
Payne sees Indian Summer Camp, which is offered by Kids Cancer Alliance, as much more than just a weekend getaway for kids. â€œWith camp, they get to come and just be a kid!â€ Payne exclaims. â€œThey donâ€™t have to worry about people making fun of them for not having hair or having a central line or having a prosthetic leg. Weâ€™re all the same and we help each other get through the week at camp.â€
Although Payne has many positive memories of Indian Summer Camp, she also has some that bring tears to her eyes. â€œI meet a lot of friends there and last year, a month before camp, my friend Laura had passed away from cancer,â€ Payne recalls. â€œSo it was really hard for me because she wasnâ€™t there.â€ With her background, she understands all too well the atrocities of cancer and therefore is determined to change the world.
At IUS, sheâ€™ll study nursing and hopes to be a pediatric oncology nurse some day. But in the meantime, sheâ€™s already making strides toward making a difference. As a cancer survivor, complacency simply isnâ€™t an option. â€œI always try to find some way to get the awareness out there and raise money,â€ she asserts.
This proactive trait often manifests itself in her volunteering for Kids Cancer Alliance, the company that hosts Indian Summer Camp. Kids Cancer Alliance is a Louisville-based organization devoted to providing recreational and support programs for pediatric cancer patients and their families to enhance their quality of life.
Payne enjoys doing whatever she can for Kids Cancer Alliance and frequently goes into the office to help in the preparation of camp as well as other programs. She also looks forward to the day she may apply to become an intern for the company.
Thanks to her dedication to the cause, she recently was a recipient of Kids Cancer Allianceâ€™s Childhood Cancer Survivorship Scholarship, which will help pay for tuition as she starts college this fall. Whether sheâ€™s there at IUS studying nursing, at Indian Summer Camp helpingÂ fellow campers figure out their way around, or at the Kids Cancer Alliance office assisting with filing, Payne is not giving up her personal mission.
â€œWhen I was at Kosair, the nurses were always there for me and getting me what I needed,â€ she recounts. â€œAnd I want to do the same thing. Since I have a background of having cancer, if Iâ€™m a nurse with a patient, I can help them since I do really know what theyâ€™re going through.â€ VT
For more information visit www.kidscanceralliance.org