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Surviving cancer, high school

On Thanksgiving during his fifth grade year, Adam Bradfield was rushed to the emergency room at Rogue Valley Medical Center for flu-like symptoms.

A blood test that night revealed he had leukemia.

The discovery began a five-year on-and-off battle with cancer, including chemotherapy, a hip replacement and the removal of part of Bradfield's lung.

With the cancer now in remission for nearly two years, Bradfield, 18, will graduate June 7 from Phoenix High School, another victory in his fight to survive.

"The third time I got cancer I didn't think I was going to make it because it kept coming back," Bradfield said. "I did it, got through everything and am still going to graduate."

He plans to attend Southern Oregon University next year and then transfer to Oregon State University, where he wants to study something related to agriculture.

His interest in agriculture was born out of the hardships he faced fighting cancer.

He underwent chemotherapy for three years before the leukemia went into remission.

High school was a new start. He joined the basketball, baseball and football teams and played with gusto.

Halfway though his freshman year, his vacation from cancer came to an end.

While attending a camp for cancer survivors at the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer in Ribera, N.M., Bradfield noticed a pain in his left knee.

When he returned home to Oregon, he went to Portland for a biopsy and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a malignant cancer, in his left thigh bone.

"It was shocking because I had already gone through leukemia, and I had to go through this again," Bradfield said.

Doctors ordered six months of chemotherapy for the cancer, followed by a hip replacement and another six-month regimen of chemotherapy.

The treatment put an end to his participation on the athletic teams.

He was tutored at home for a full year while he received treatment because his immune system was compromised, and he felt nauseous.

"When I had a tutor it was good because she made me do my work, but my senior year, it kind of went downhill," he said.

Right after the surgery, Bradfield couldn't walk.

"I didn't like that very much," he said. "I had to go to physical therapy, and I still go because the bone they inserted hasn't fully fused with my bone."

When he returned to school, his friends and teammates welcomed him back.

He watched his friends play basketball and baseball with envy.

"They prayed for me before every game," he said. "It was pretty cool because they were so supportive."

This year, the Phoenix baseball and basketball teams went to the state competition. He was happy for them but wished he could have been a part of it.

His teacher, Rachel Kostman, presented a way to help fill the void from not being able to play sports.

She was the adviser for the high school's Future Farmers of America and encouraged him to give it a try.

"I raised a market pig my sophomore year, and my junior year, I became more involved in the competitions and became the Phoenix High FFA representative for student government," he said.

This year, he won the Star Chapter Farmer Award for projects including building new pens at his grandparents' farm and building stalls for the high school agriculture buildings.

"It's fun, and after you're done, you've accomplished building a big structure," he said. "There is a lot of responsibility feeding and washing the animals. When you show them you get a ribbon. How well you did usually has to do with how much time you spent with them."

Just when he had entered a routine of normalcy, a routine CAT scan the summer before his junior year showed he had a cancerous tumor on his lung, which is common after other kinds of osteosarcoma.

"I had already maxed out the amount of chemotherapy you can have in lifespan without affecting your organs," he said. The doctors, instead, removed the part of the lung with the tumor.

His cancer has been in remission since summer 2006.

His classmates chose him as the school's "Sparrow" for the Sparrow Club that year, which raises money for child in need. The proceeds went to Bradfield's medical expenses.

Bradfield is uncertain of what he wants to do as a profession, but he's thinking about something related to agriculture. He also would like to try out living somewhere else in Oregon.

Even with all his hardships in high school and a strong case of senioritus, he's earned a GPA of 3.2.

He won a $300 college scholarship from the Phoenix FFA.

He plans to live with his mother, Robin Bradfield, during his first year of college and move to the dorms when he transfers to Oregon State.

His eyes brighten when he talks about graduation.

"I'm looking forward to the (graduation) ceremony and then, graduating," he said. "High school was a hard time."

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

Phoenix High School senior Adam Bradfield has faced some big hurdles heading into graduation and stood out despite numerous setbacks. Jim Craven 5/21/2008 - Jim Craven