Champion resident overcomes rare cancer; stays strong against late effects

Barbara Hilija Spiessl, Champion resident and a fifth-degree in black belt in Taekwon-Do, was was diagnosed with subcutaneous panniculitislike T-cell lymphoma, a rare subtype that accounts for less than 1 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

During her treatment and recovery at the University of Michigan Health System, Spiessl called upon her Taekwon-Do training to find the strength and resilience to manage the long-term side effects from treatment.

In the nearly four years Spiessl’s cancer has been in remission, she has regained most of her strength and stamina. Her recipe for coping with cancer’s late effects: a commitment to physical fitness, the mind-body discipline of Taekwon-Do, and the resilience that comes from staying connected to a loving, supportive family and community.

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