It is quite an honor for a student to be accepted into the Governor’s Honors Program (or GHP) in Georgia. The GHP is a four-week, summer educational program designed for intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students. Rising juniors and seniors are nominated by their teachers and are screened through a rigorous round of essays, auditions, and interviews. The overall acceptance rate of the program is around 3%.
Those who know Loren Bass-Sanford and have heard her play probably were not surprised when they learned of her acceptance into the GHP as a jazz pianist. What might surprise them are the obstacles she overcame to get to there.
A persistent cough and what seemed to be regular cold symptoms escalated until she stopped walking and talking. Just before her third birthday, she became so weak that she could only lay in bed staring blankly at the ceiling. Her mother’s intuition drove them to the hospital where Loren needed a blood transfusion to make it through the night and was soon diagnosed with leukemia.
“I have some vivid memories of life during treatment,” Loren said. “Once when I was in pre-k, one of my little friends asked me about the bump in my chest. I tried to explain about the port, but I’m sure she didn’t understand.”
The standard treatment for pediatric leukemia lasts between two and three years for most children. Loren was cancer-free and considered a survivor at five. When she was ten, a long, six-hour appointment marked the end of her five-year remission period. She will continue to go to survivor’s visits every year until she reaches the age of 21.
One of the chemotherapies administered to Loren during her treatment was vincristine, which can cause numbness, tingling, and fine motor skill issues in the hands and feet. Sometimes, these side effects occur during treatment and sometimes they appear long treatment is complete. When Loren began experiencing such issues in her hands, she turned to the piano as a form of therapy. Her aptitude quickly revealed itself and the level at which she can now play is truly astonishing when the side effects she deals with are taken into consideration!
Loren is often complimented on her talent. Humbly she replied, “I just love playing piano. It was an honor to be at GHP; I learned so much.”
This rising senior at Lovett School doesn’t take her health for granted. She is on the Student Service Board and has joined the fight against childhood cancer. Last year, she led an effort for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Students of the Year project. This year, she is leading Lovett’s Gold Out game during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
“Lovett has a long history of partnering with CURE in fight against childhood cancer and it is incredibly special to have a childhood cancer survivor lead the charge this year,” said CURE’s Executive Director, Kristin Connor.
In addition to the Lovett School, many high schools are holding Gold Out games in September. If you’d like to host a gold out game at your school, visit www.gogold4CURE.com where you can download everything you need to plan your event. If you have any questions, please contact Mark Myers at [email protected].