Digital Story

As a sixteen year old, Lex Casciano was not expecting to end her AP examination with a trip to the doctor and an incorrect diagnosis, but in May of 2018 she did just that.

Lex Casciano, currently a sophomore at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, faced death before even making her decision to come to UNC. After being told that what she believed to be just a sore throat was due to mono, she went to rest it off. As any teenager would, she assumed nothing of it, mono was probably going around her school. Just days later she woke up to severe chest pain and a blood oxygen level of 67%. Upon being rushed to the hospital and spending 12 hours in the emergency room with no answers, her mystery illness was narrowed down to three options: HIV, cancer, or Lemierre’s syndrome. As a mere junior in highschool, she was faced with the idea of death.

After receiving her official diagnosis of Lemierre’s syndrome doctors discovered that she had over forty abscesses growing in her lungs. She was rushed into surgery to remove the abscesses from her lungs with the hope it would greatly improve her condition. Her post surgery rehabilitation process was extensive, but she persevered and after learning how to breathe correctly and walk again her discharge date was set. An eager Lex awaited the return the normal life as she spent the last days of her hospital stay doing extensive rehabilitation. However, the night before she was set to be discharged, an abscess was discovered on her right frontal lobe, and she was rushed into emergency brain surgery that night. Had the abscess been anywhere else in her brain, or had not been discovered, she would have died. The harrowing experience as a whole left her with a 28 day hospital stay and a recovery process that would take months. Upon the end of her battle with these challenges she found something other than her health: an appreciation for life. It was in the moments when she did not know what her future was to look like, or if it was even present at all, that she realized that life could be taken from you instantly, and you have to take each day as it comes.  

“So, I think throughout this entire experience, the one thing that really comes to mind when people ask me about it is how much I value being a healthy person and how much I value the little things in life.”

Why I Chose This Story

When I moved into my first college apartment this year and met Lex I was shocked to hear this story for the first time. I looked back at what I was doing at that same age, and realized that I had not had that defining realization yet. To film and interview her allowed me to put myself in her shoes and realize that every day is important and you have to take things as they come. 

Here is my interview with Lex where she talks more about Lumiere’s Syndrome