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Lipscomb gives Dryden 'something to live for’ during battle with cancer

Pursuing a college education is a dream of many young people. But for some it means much more. It means life.

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Emma Dryden twirling on a beach.

Pursuing a college education at Lipscomb University motivated Emma Dryden during chemotherapy treatments.

For senior Emma Dryden attending Lipscomb University was a dream come true as the Zeeland, Michigan, native was set to move to Nashville to begin her freshman year at Lipscomb University in fall 2015. 

However, just one month before her high school graduation, Dryden was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a type of cancer in the lymphatic system.

Immediately after her diagnosis, Dryden began chemotherapy treatments in Michigan, with plans to begin college and complete her treatment in Nashville. Unfortunately, as the side effects of chemo set in, she soon realized college would have to wait.

The initial decision to postpone attending Lipscomb was difficult for Dryden. But getting healthy enough to pursue her dream was motivation during long hours of treatments.

“It gave me something to live for,” says Dryden.

'I love Lipscomb.'

Emma Dryden is a senior family relations major and a cancer survivor.

Even though the battle with cancer delayed the start of her freshman year, Dryden says she still felt a part of the Lipscomb family. She received a care package from the Lipscomb admissions team to show that they were thinking of her and that she was very much a part of the Lipscomb family.

“It was so special to receive the care package,” says Dryden. “I was hardly even enrolled at Lipscomb and they were still thinking about me. The box included Lipscomb gear and a little devotional book to help me feel better during treatment; it was so sweet.”

The purple Lipscomb blanket that was included in the care package was a comfort to Dryden during her chemo treatments.

After completing treatments in November 2015, Dryden spent the following spring and summer gaining strength and preparing for the start of her college journey. In August 2016, Dryden set foot on the Lipscomb campus as a freshman ready to embark on the next chapter of her journey. 

She has embraced the college life, becoming involved in a number of campus organizations, is a resident assistant in Elam Hall and studied abroad in London in fall 2017.

Now in remission, Dryden, a family relations major, hopes to someday work in a hospital with children facing life-threatening illnesses, much like the one she faced. She says her journey through cancer has helped solidify her decision to pursue this career and not only help others, but share God’s faithfulness in the process.

“I love Lipscomb. I love being here and my cancer has really made me appreciate coming here so much more, because there were times where I really felt I wasn’t going to get here,” Dryden says. “Cancer has given me more appreciation for life and more of a drive and motivation to get through school and share Jesus with people.”