HOPEWELL, Va. – Casey Arbogast is rehearsing the speech of her life. The graduating senior at West End Christian School in Hopewell never thought she would be living, let alone graduating.
“Nothing even matters except love,” she says. “Who you loved and how deeply.”
The kind-hearted student is a fierce competitor in the classroom and on the court, which serves her well when fighting life-threatening challenges. In 2014, Casey was diagnosed with anorexia.
“It was an obsession. I just had to keep losing weight,” says Casey. “I became very insecure about myself.”
She was starving herself to death. Then depression set in; Casey’s mom says the challenge was daunting.
“I watched my beautiful healthy girl not think she was beautiful,” says Casey’s mother, Julie Arborgast. “She thought she needed to be perfect. She didn’t realize she already was.”
Casey sought help, but this winter a doctor delivered some devastating news; a diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma. Several rounds of chemotherapy were scheduled.
“On March the seventh, our world caved in. Our world dropped,” says Julie.
“My first thought is ‘I’m going to lose my hair,’” says Casey.
Casey’s life was hanging in the balance. But her faith, family, friends, faculty and faith are helping her cope.
“This school is like a family to me,” says Casey. “I love learning. I really do.”
“She is a soldier. Casey Arborgast. When I heard the name I heard courage. Fighter, warrior and that is the way she played her sports,” says Casey’s basketball coach Jamar Fleming.
Several weeks ago, doctors delivered a miracle diagnosis. Casey was cured of cancer.
“It was the news that I needed,” Casey says.
“I have been blessed to see my daughter blossom,” says Julie.
Principal Amy Griggs says the shining senior is an inspiration.
“Casey is going to be very successful because she is very driven,” says Mrs. Griggs. “She showed them it is ok to be diagnosed with something so serious but it is even better when you fight back and don’t give up.”
“I feel the greatest I have felt in a long time,” says Casey.
Casey’s last high school assignment is to deliver a heartfelt salutatorian speech at graduation. In her speech she will thank those who never left her side.
“You have been the best brothers and sisters I could have asked for and I love all of you. And I expect to see amazing things on my Facebook feed in the future thank you.”
If you know of someone who I should feature in my “Heroes Among Us” segment email CBS 6 Reporter Greg McQuade.