TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – “Imagine being 9 years old and finding out you have cancer. That was the reality for Evan Adams in 2012. He recalled what it was like after hearing the diagnosis. “First I was very fatigued then I started getting swollen lymph nodes and that’s whenever we realized that something wasn’t right so we went and got my blood tested and they found that I had leukemia in my blood. Honestly didn’t know if I was going to survive that’s what I was mostly scared of,” he said.
Evan was treated for leukemia at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis where he underwent 24 hour chemo therapy sessions on Fridays. But that was only the beginning of the fight. “A couple days after I got diagnosed I had to have surgery and get a port in my chest and then I woke up with a needle in my chest and IV’s in my arms and it was just extremely terrifying,” he said.
Nearly everyone knows somebody who’s been touched by cancer. But not everyone knows what the symptoms feels like. Here’s what Evan was experiencing during his battle with leukemia. “Well it makes you extremely tired and it makes you sick and it can really ruin your appetite,” he said.
Evan endured four years of treatment. The side effects of chemo cause more harm to children than adults. To help deal with the symptoms Evan turned to his life long love of running. He started in the 6th grade while still undergoing chemo. Despite being sick and throwing up in every race, he never quit. His doctors told him his physical activity was beneficial to his treatment. So he kept running.
“I heard about Coach Poole’s team and I wanted to join and it just turned my life around because it really made my immune system a lot stronger and everyone on the team was so like motivating and encouraging toward me even though I would come in last in every race I still wanted to be there with everyone that was so encouraging,” he said.
Coach Brent Poole has been a source of support ever since meeting Evan in middle school and was impressed with his strength. “He would go to a meet and he would know when he took 14 pills and chemo therapy the night before and then he would turn around and race at 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning on Saturday after going to therapy on Friday and it was an eye opener to the other athletes on the team they did not realize he was going through chemo,” Poole said.
Coach Poole was even there when he rang the bell for his final treatment on April 14th 2017. “I mean I’ve never experienced anything like that you know you hear about cancer you hear about the struggles that people go through but I kind of equate that to probably the biggest race he’ll ever run I mean that bell is probably like the finish line to ring that bell and see him finish you know the biggest race that he’s probably going to go through,” he said.
In addition to being a cancer survivor Evan can add future college athlete to his list of accomplishments. The Terre Haute North senior earned a scholarship to Saint Mary of the Woods College and will run along side his brother Anthony. Evan is the first recruit for Coach Zach Whitkanack’s 2022 class.
“You know at that age all you want to do is hang out with friends and play and stuff and at that age I think I was complaining if I had to take a test or something on a Friday so to go through what he did every weekend is pretty inspiring and I think it will inspire our team next year when he joins,” Whitkanack said.
We asked Evan what he hopes people will take away from his story. “If you’re going to do something you may as well try to do your best at to be the best that you can be for yourself,” he said. Look for Evan at a cross country meet this fall.