Former CV student beats cancer after months of grueling treatment


By Jolene Martinez –

The View –  

Even now, when Madi Conley is hundreds of miles away, she is still part of Castle View High School.

A little over a year ago, Conley, then a CV freshman, was diagnosed with leukemia. She underwent several months of chemotherapy and several bone marrow transplants at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver.

She left the hospital May 8 and considers herself a cancer survivor.

“I had a horrible fear of going back to the hospital,” Conley said in an email from her new home in Texas, “but I’m better now.”

Because of her precautions for her health, Conley is taking online classes this year. She takes medication everyday and cannot eat anything someone has touched. Meats must be well cooked because without fully cooked meat certain chemicals can get back into her DNA.

But other than watching her health carefully, Conley has been shopping, attending doctors appointments and volunteering at a bone marrow drive with an organization named Love Hope Strength. She enjoys being home with family, hanging out with friends and neighbors, and watching Netflix.

Online school is a challenge, Conley said.

“I have pretty severe chemo brain, so school is a very big challenge,” Conley said, referring to how chemotherapy affected her memory, processing speed and attention span.

The Conleys recently moved to Houston when her dad received a big promotion and transfer there. The moved saddened her best friend, CV sophomore Emily Smaldone.

But “even though we’re exactly 977 miles apart, we’ll still be best friends until the end,” said Smaldone, who made bonfires and toasted marshmallows with Conley.

Although the experience changed Conley’s life, she said she wouldn’t change it for anything.

“I would be lying if I said that I don’t still get angry and upset at the fact I got sick,” Conley said. “But I wouldn’t have gotten to meet any of my amazing doctors and nurses and other kids who had cancer.”

Now, she has a completely different outlook on life. She said she will never complain about her hair again or take for granted sleeping in her own bed.

“It’s a gift to be alive,” she said, “and I wish everyone knew that.”