Although Turlock High School’s school colors are blue and gold, Joe Debely Stadium was undeniably purple on Friday as a tribute to senior Patrick Shields, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma earlier this year.
Shields was not only recognized by his peers and the community with purple balloons and purple clothing throughout the stands, but he was also named the honorary captain of the THS football team.
“Friday night was amazing,” said Shields. “Seeing the love and support that my school and community have not only for me, but for everyone was truly inspiring.”
“I could not have asked for a better community to grow up in and call home,” continued Shields.
Shields was diagnosed in June with Stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which according to the American Cancer Society is a “a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part o the immune system.” As a cancer most commonly found in early and late adulthood, ACS estimated that there will be approximately 9,050 new cases of Hodgkin disease in the United States this year.
The “B” in Shields’ diagnosis of Stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma means that he was exhibiting certain symptoms, such as loss of more than 10 percent of his body weight over the past six months without dieting, fever of 100.4 degrees or greater for an unknown reason, and drenching night sweats.
Shields just completed his fourth and final round of chemotherapy and is slated to start radiation treatments at the end of the month. During the football game on Friday, Associated Student Body president Andy Orozco said that Shields is responding well to treatments and is hoping to be healthy enough to return to school.
“He has had a great attitude and outlook throughout the entire process,” said Orozco. “He is looking forward to his senior year of school and attending college next fall.”
Following Friday night’s game, Shields expressed his appreciation for THS’ caring staff and administration throughout the entire process. Shields especially thanked ASB coordinator Jennifer Cullum for being a “huge light in my life over these past few months.”
“Cancer can destroy so much if you let it, but when you have so many caring people it truly does make fighting so worth it,” said Shields.