Recent Farmington High School graduate Maddie Muelken is well known for her dominance on the softball field, helping the Tigers' softball team to a 4A state championship this past season, however she may have just won her most important victory yet: beating cancer. Just a little more than five months after being diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma, Muelken received the fantastic news in August that she was cancer free.
Muelken said she and her family thought she may have beaten the cancer when they went in for the appointment, but it was still overwhelming.
"It was a breathtaking experience," she said. "My mom, dad and two sisters came for the appointment because we had the feeling that I had done it. My nurses came in and gave me lots of hugs and it was hard to hold back tears of joy. It was a relief and I was excited to be on track Muelken was diagnosed on March 14, right as softball was starting. Looking back on it now, she said that the diagnosis was a wake-up call for her.
"Before I was diagnosed, I was kind of just walking through life, having fun playing softball, but not taking it all in," Muelken explained. "After I was diagnosed I started to open my eyes and realize that things can be taken away in a blink of an eye. Luckily for me, they weren't taken away. I played softball with a bigger heart than I did before and appreciated what I had and all the amazing support. I used softball not just for a sport, but a way to get away from everything. The support helped a lot through the whole thing and always kept positive thoughts coming my way."
That support she received came from all over, but started right at home with her family and friends first.
"My family was my biggest supporter," she said. "They made all the trips with me to my treatments and always gave me positive thoughts and helped me through the hard times. My friends also helped me through it, many of them were always there for me when I needed them as well. One of my good friends, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and another family friend lost her battle, they both helped me get through everything, giving me tips and advice. The Farmington community put on a benefit for me and showed their support every step of the way, wishing me luck, telling me I got this when they saw me out and about. The surrounding communities as well, I got many cards from high school softball teams, one school wore purple on the day we played them and many wore purple ribbons in their hair."
Cancer free, Muelken can now give her full attention to her future at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse where she will play softball. While she was able to continue playing for FHS after her diagnosis, Muelken said that the treatments have had an effect on her, which she said she will continue to bounce back from while at UWL.
"My reflexes in my legs went away during treatment and they said it would take awhile for them to come back, but so far I haven't noticed a setback," she said. "I'm not as strong as I was prior to my diagnosis, but the coaches and trainers have been so understanding and they work with me to get me back to where I was."
"For now I'll be staying active and on a healthy diet, trying to stay away from colds and the flu," Muelken continued. "I will talk more about lifestyle at my next oncologist appointment and have regular checks start, first every three months, eventually every six and then annual ones after that."
A little over a month into her first semester at UWL, Maddie said she is excited for what the future will bring.
"I've been super busy with school and softball, but have made a lot of good friends," she finished. "I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year has in store if this is only the beginning."