Sammy Loch began experiencing debilitating headaches in 2009. She was a sophomore in high school at the time. When she went to see her primary care provider, they diagnosed her with migraines and prescribed medication to help dull the pain. When her migraines persisted, her doctor recommended Loch get an MRI to rule out anything more insidious.

Days before the MRI, Loch got dressed in a beautiful purple gown, her curly hair bounding in tight curls just at her shoulders. She had been looking forward to the homecoming dance for weeks. She was all smiles, but the throbbing pain in her head was still there. She powered through the dance, determined to have fun. She was completely unaware her world would soon be turned upside down as she danced in the high school gym surrounded by her friends.

On Tuesday, Oct 27, 2009, Loch went in for an MRI.

“The technician was so bubbly and nice,” Loch said. “She told me about the elaborate costume she was working on because Halloween was only a few days away. I remember everything about her demeanor changed when she came back in the room after my scan. My heart sank. I knew something was seriously wrong.”

That night around 8 p.m., her family got a call. Her mother answered, repeating aloud what the voice on the other end of the line was saying. “There’s a mass. You need to go to Seattle Children’s as soon as possible.”

Everything seemed to stop as those words hung heavy in the air.

“It’s cancer,” Loch said. “I just knew it.”

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