“I’m going to state,” Lidia Frias said with a smile on her face.
A similar smile can be found on the faces of many state track qualifiers, but Frias’ story is different.
The Iola-Scandinavia High School sophomore recalled being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 12.
“We were on our very first vacation to Florida and I got painful blisters all over my stomach,” said Frias, who will compete Friday and Saturday, June 3-4, in the Division 3 girls’ long jump event at the State Track and Field Meet in La Crosse.
“We went to the ER there and they told me I had shingles,” she said. “It was really weird.”
“It’s unusual for kids to get that, so we knew there was something going on,” said her mother, Cara Frias. “She had been sick a lot that year.”
Once home, the family sought out a doctor in Wisconsin. At that time, they founding some swelling in her neck and more tests were ordered. Nodules were found on her thyroid and Frias underwent a biopsy.
“It was scary,” Cara said. “You’re reclining in chair and they come at you with a huge needle.”
“I think that is the only time that I have ever cried throughout all of this,” said Frias, who also competes in volleyball and basketball.
Lidia was scheduled to have her thyroid removed shortly there after. During the procedure, they also removed some of the surrounding lymph nodes as well. Radiation treatments followed, along with medication that Lidia will have to remain on for the rest of her life.
She goes back to the doctor on a regular basis for body scans and blood work to make sure that all is well. The summer after her surgery, additional radiation treatments were also done. After getting the clean bill of health, Frias was able to fore go treatments for two years.
During a routine exam in January, doctors noticed that her thyroglobin level was up, a sign that there is thyroid hormone present. A scan followed and four nodules of thyroid tissue showed up on one side of her lung and five on the other. The doctors had various opinions on what to do next. Since thyroid cancer is slow growing, they had some time to decide.
“I had to sit out of the second half of my basketball season,” Lidia said. “It was hard thing to do, but I was dealing with so much stress, I had to. There was a part of me that wanted to start radiation treatments right then and there just to get it over with.”
As a family, they decided to wait until summer to start the next round of treatment. Lidia will once again go through radiation June 23 in Marshfield.
“I have to stop taking my thyroid replacement medication in preparation of the radiation treatment,” Lidia said. “It makes me feel weak without it. I also have to be on an iodine-free diet for two weeks, so my body can more readily absorb the radiation treatment.
“For two days, I am not allowed to be within 6 feet of anyone,” she added. “I have to have my own towels and utensils. It makes you feel horrible. There are times that it’s hard for me to even walk up and down the stairs, it makes me feel so weak.”
It is expected that Lidia will not be feeling the best for at least a week after the treatment. The family believes that once this treatment is done, she will again be back in good health.
When asked who inspires her the most when it comes to athletics, Lidia didn’t hesitate.
“I would have to say my coaches because they believe in me so much,” she said. “They all know what I am dealing with and well, they don’t bring it up on a regular basis. They allow me to just be me and know that I know my limitations. I want my life to be the same even though I have this. I am still the same Lidia.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” she said. “I don’t have to have chemo. I don’t have to go to the hospital all the time. Out of all the cancers to get, this is the easiest one to cure. I know there are a lot of people that have it 10 times worse.”
“Lidia is a very strong person with a great attitude,” Cara said. “She does not let a lot get her down and she is totally looking at the future and what she wants to do.
“I concentrate on the good times,” Lidia said. “That might be tough right now, but there are good times ahead. My faith is not something that I usually like to talk about, but I have learned to rely on it.”
Lidia is excited about qualifying for the state meet for the first time and would eventually like to make it to state in the triple jump, her favorite event.
“I don’t plan on getting a medal at state this year, but I am very excited that I made it,” she said.
No matter what the outcome at state, Lidia Frias is already a champion.