Lake Forest College senior Kayla Griffith, an All-American defenseman on the Forester women's hockey team, was diagnosed on March 22 with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, an aggressive but curable form of cancer.
Kayla learned of her condition shortly after the season thanks in part to her acceptance into a doctoral of physical therapy program. A heart murmur discovered during a routine physical exam for graduate school led to a blood test, which revealed her platelets and red blood cell counts were low. She checked into the emergency room at Lake Forest Hospital and, the next day, was informed she had leukemia and needed to start treatment right away. Her parents immediately left their home in Woodbury, Minnesota, drove six hours to Lake Forest to pick her up, and turned right around to make the drive back to the University of Minnesota Medical Center. They arrived at 1:00 a.m. and, after the AML diagnosis was confirmed the next afternoon, she began chemotherapy a few hours later.
"Kayla is an extremely strong player on the ice and person off of it," noted Lake Forest College Head Women's Hockey Coach Carisa Wahlig. "Her positivity and maturity continue to amaze me and I know she is going to fight through this."
While the preliminary round of chemo was effective in killing the cancer cells and Kayla's blood counts are on the rise, she will need a bone marrow transplant. In support of Kayla and others requiring the same procedure, Lake Forest College Athletics, Forester Hockey, and the Health and Wellness Center are co-sponsoring a month-long Be The Match® campaign from April 19 to May 19 (Kayla wore #19 for the Foresters and "No Stopping 19" is the initiative's motto). Be The Match® is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP) and is the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. Since doctors request donors between 18 and 44 years of age more than 95 percent of the time, the organization focuses its recruiting efforts on that age group.
"Kayla has been an inspiration to our entire team, both as a player and a person," began close friend and fellow Forester hockey player Caroline Campbell. "We are determined to do everything we can to help her and others in similar situations and hope others will join us."
We are calling on the Lake Forest College and hockey communities to show their support for Kayla and all of those in need of a bone marrow transplant by joining the Be The Match® bone marrow registry. The process is quick and easy and involves registering your contact information, providing a brief medical history, and submitting an oral swab. This can be done in one of two ways: Online (once you register, you will be mailed a swab with instructions and a return envelope) or in person at an on-campus event on Tuesday, April 24 (11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. at Middle Campus Quad, 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. in Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse).
More information about Kayla's journey can be found by visiting her CaringBridge website.
As a player Kayla finished her collegiate career ranked tied-for-seventh in school history with 83 points on 28 goals and 55 assists. She earned All-Northern Collegiate Hockey Association honors after each of her four seasons and was named a West All-American for the third consecutive year by the American Hockey Coaches Association last month. Lake Forest's 75 victories over the last four seasons are the most of any four-year span in program history and she played in a team record 110 games. Successful in the classroom as well, the biology major earned NCHA All-Academic Team honors all three years she was eligible for the award.
Thank you in advance for your support! If you have any questions, please contact Coach Wahlig at firstname.lastname@example.org, Assistant Athletic Trainer Megan Hutchins at email@example.com, or Caroline Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.