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Woman invests in her future

BYRON — Recovering from cancer, the most recent in a long series of medical setbacks, Sara Segner was offered a chance to choose a wish from Make-A-Wish Foundation.

She chose her future.

The Byron High School senior, who is attending Rochester Community Technical College, didn't even think about a big trip or a shopping spree.

At first, she said she wanted to give the money to Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, where she has spent many weeks. When she found she couldn't do that, she chose to have the $12,000 go for her college education.

"I didn't want to just blow it," she said. "I wanted it to be an investment in my future education."


Before all her medical problems, she said she wasn't sure what she wanted to do with her life. Now, she's thinking medical school.

Her medical problems began in 2008 when she was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, a digestive disorder. "Back then, it was kind of a big deal," she said. Then she felt weak and doctors at first though mononucleosis. It worsened, and she found she had hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare blood disorder that causes white blood cells to multiply uncontrollably.

She got chemotherapy for that.

In February, she began to get headaches and was so weak she could barely walk. "I felt like my body was shutting down," said the daughter of Angela and Robert Segner. It was so bad that she had to drop two high school classes. The weakness turned out to be non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Each round of chemo made her feel better. "It was a step up from where I was, I think," she said.

She continued to work on her studies instead of saying she had cancer and had to take off time. "Why not?" Segner said. "I lived through it. What's the point in giving up now? I fought all that time."

Her cancer is now in remission, and she's back to being a full-time student.

When she was in the hospital last spring, a social worker told her about Make-A-Wish. "I didn't really want to do it first," she said. "I didn't feel I did anything to deserve some big grand gift of some sort."


She did accept it, however, and wished for the scholarship.

Something extravagant never entered her mind, Segner said. "I felt it was so out of my character to just blow some opportunity like that," she said.

If the cancer comes back and she didn't have that big trip, she wouldn't feel bad, she said. "If it happened, so be it," she said. "But I'm not planning on that, you know. … (Dying) doesn't scare me. I don't think dying has crossed my mind."

She said she's taken that philosophy with her when she visits young cancer patients at Saint Marys to help them work their way through treatment, but mostly to be there to listen.

She doesn't believe her medical battles and Make-A-Wish choice makes her some kind of hero. "I'm just an average girl who had mountainous circumstances to go through," she said.

She's made it through with support of family, friends and doctors and now has a nice chunk of money for her future.

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