ACTC student perseveres despite diagnosis
October 18, 2022
ASHLAND, Ky. – Corissa Conley’s journey as a student in the cosmetology program hasn’t been an easy one, but she will be the first to tell you that it’s been the love and support of her peers in the program that has helped her make it through.
This past May, Conley was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. According to Mayo Clinic’s website, Hodgkin's lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the body's germ-fighting immune system. In Hodgkin's lymphoma, white blood cells called lymphocytes grow out of control, causing swollen lymph nodes and growths throughout the body.
“I had symptoms for a while, like loss of appetite, night sweats, but I didn’t think anything of it. For a while we only knew the type of cancer it was,” Conley said. “I got a pet scan at Kings Daughters, and about a week later, we were referred to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The first week I was admitted they started my first treatment of chemo.”
In July, she received a second pet scan to see if the treatments were working. While the results showed that her tumor was shrinking, the cancer itself remained.
“They decided to up my chemo, so I did two three-day admissions for intensive chemo,” she said.
After that round of treatment, another pet scan was performed, which showed positive results.
“There was a very bright spot right on my chest. They couldn’t decide whether the spot was cancer or an infection, so we did another biopsy. This biopsy showed it was only an infection, which was great news,” Conley said.
About a month ago, Conley underwent a proton radiation consult, and she will begin radiation treatments soon.
She hopes to be in remission by the end of 2022.
Conley says she is so thankful for the support she has received from her “family” in the cosmetology program.
“I always knew I wanted to do cosmetology,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in hair and makeup. I chose ACTC because I knew I would be treated like family here. And they did just that.”
She added, “Over the summer, I made sure everyone was up to date with me and my treatment. My instructors have shown me nothing but the upmost support. I truly cannot thank them enough.”
In August, the cosmetology program began selling #TeamRissa bracelets in the salon to help offset some of Coney’s expenses. They all also purchased shirts to show their support.
“I didn’t even know they were selling t-shirts and bracelets until they surprised me on the first day,” said Conley. “It brought me to tears. Over the past couple of months, I haven’t gotten to feel normal, but I knew coming back to school, the girls in my class would make me feel the most normal. ACTC has treated me so well and I can’t thank them enough. It shows you how much a community really has your back.”
Conley is expected to graduate in May.
“Corissa is such a wonderful part of our cosmetology family, and we are so proud of her for everything she has overcome in the last several months,” said Mourine Smith, cosmetology program coordinator. “When getting a diagnosis like she received, many would give up, but not Corissa. She has remained dedicated to her class work and seeing it through. She has been so appreciative of all the support she has received. We can’t wait to see what all she accomplishes.”
The cosmetology program is still selling bracelets to support Conley. Those can be purchased at the salon, located at the corner of Oakview Road and Ramey Street.