Lampson took the news with a teenager’s instincts: He jumped on the internet to research his disease.
“I never dwelled on the possibility of death. So I think ultimately that helped me because my immediate response was, ‘What do I do to beat it?’ ” Lampson said. “I never really grasped the gravity of having a cancer diagnosis.”
Even after learning the cancer had spread through his chest — years later he found out such cases had about a 65 percent five-year survival rate — Lampson still made the trip from his Hilliard, Ohio, home to Iowa for his club soccer team’s regional tournament. The next day, he began an aggressive chemotherapy regimen, which is no longer used, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
The drugs attacked the cancer, and the experience sapped Lampson’s youthful innocence.
“It took an incredibly large toll on me as a person,” said Lampson, who had to put college on hold. “Obviously at 17 years old, everybody graduates high school. Everybody else goes on with their lives. So you find out who really loves you very quickly. … I got incredibly cynical. I started to hate everything.”.
Diane Slape now serves as director of Gold Star families for a national nonprofit called Burn Pits 360, a subgroup of the nonprofit that advocates on behalf of family members who lost a loved one through illnesses caused by exposure to burn pits and other airborne hazards while deployed to Southwest Asia.