Former KSU student fought cancer

Steve Bushong

Family and friends remember Kent State student and Delta Gamma sorority sister who battled with cancer

Former Kent State student Alicia Bane, 23, died Wednesday at her home in Richmond. She had been fighting cancer.

Bane was a student at Kent State from Fall 2004 to Spring 2005.

That spring, Bane rushed for the sorority Delta Gamma, where she met friend Robyn Heiman, currently a senior middle-childhood development major.

In late April, the sorority contributed to the annual fundraiser Relay for Life, where the Greek community and other organizations walk to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Bane’s sorority sisters were shocked to see her take the track at the 2005 event — she was walking a lap reserved for those who either had cancer or survived it.

“She never talked about it,” Heiman said. The sorority didn’t know of her battle until that moment.

Bane had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that affects soft tissue and muscle, in 2002. Originally, doctors gave her six months to live, but she overcame all odds and survived. She had been cancer free for two years when she came to Kent State.

“We thought it was amazing,” Heiman said. “She went through this struggle at such a young age.”

But about two months later, sorority sisters received an e-mail from Bane.

“This is kind of a hard e-mail for me to send,” Bane wrote. “But I need to let all of you wonderful girls know what is going on in my life.”

The news wasn’t good. After feeling lumps in her breast, Bane went for tests and scans. The cancer had returned and she wouldn’t be coming back to Kent State.

“This really isn’t very good, it’s always hard to beat a second time — well, that is what the doctor says,” Bane wrote. “But as all of you know, I’m a very positive person and I feel if I did it once, then I can do it again.”

Bane had ups and downs throughout the last year, one of her two best friends, Alissa Sperlazza said.

Sperlazza was at the Bane residence yesterday afternoon with Bane’s parents, Jodi and Jim Bane, and 21-year-old brother, Aaron.

As Jodi prepared dinner, Sperlazza remembered Alicia, who she had been friends with since first grade when they met at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

The memories flowed:

They watched football games, particularly the Steelers and Ohio State.

They played softball together — in fourth grade they played against each other — Alicia won.

“It was a sad day,” Sperlazza said.

They shopped at Robinson Mall near Pittsburgh. Victoria Secret’s pink line was Alicia’s favorite buy.

And at Alicia’s favorite restaurant, Wendy’s, Sperlazza was present when Alicia wrecked her brand new Jetta.

There were many memorable nights, Sperlazza said. One in particular stuck out most.

Sperlazza had gone to a bar in Stuebenville and Alicia and her other best friend, Elizabeth Bottors, went to a Dave Matthews Band concert at the Post Gazette Pavilion.

When Sperlazza arrived home at 5 a.m., after a long night at the bar, Alicia and Bottors were both sitting on her front porch. They weren’t speaking.

That is until they both said “stationary.”

“That means we had to puke,” Sperlazza explained. “We were just stupid together.”

Alicia’s friends said she was compassionate, loving, caring and beautiful. The cancer never affected her personality. And she was never scared, at least until a girl she had met at a hospital died. It was a week before her own death.

“That’s when she got scared,” Sperlazza said. “But she was one of the strongest people I know. For anyone to deal with this for six years is unbelievable.”

Calling hours for Alicia are noon to 9 p.m. today at Wintersville United Methodist Church in Winterville. The service will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Contact minority affairs reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].