Simpson student stays positive despite cancer diagnosis

by Ashley Smith, Editor-in-Chief

The Simpson community is rallying behind a student who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma.

Junior Vicente Argueta, who is majoring in marketing, is a first-generation student.

At the end of Argueta’s first year at Simpson, he had pain in his knee. His health insurance didn’t cover this type of issue, so he went back for the 2015-2016 school year and ignored the pain.

“I was able to tolerate it, and I got in the habit of taking pain killers. In January, I started working as a night stocker, and it’s all pretty much standing up and walking, and I got kind of worried (about my knee),” Argueta said.

Argueta woke up one Monday and couldn’t walk or support his knee, so he went to the hospital.

“They told me that I had a fever, and they said it could be a possible bone infection, and they weren’t sure yet. They didn’t accept my insurance, so I had to pay $300 up front for a consultation,” Argueta said.

The doctor gave Argueta an X-ray and everything came back normal.

“He pretty much told me there’s not a reason for you to be having pain, and he said that it could be a possible bone infection and maybe a tumor but nothing cancerous,” Argueta said.

The doctor told him he shouldn’t study abroad in the Dominican Republic over May Term — something Argueta had been looking forward to.

“That was pretty hard to take in, but my health is the thing that matters, and there’s always the opportunity to study abroad next year,” Argueta said.

The doctor also recommended Argueta goes home to receive treatment and be with his family.

“Two weeks before I left Simpson, I was pretty much preparing everything before I left. So I had to talk with all of my teachers about finishing school online, and, thankfully, they were very reasonable,” Argueta said.

Argueta was planning on graduating in December 2016, but it was pushed back due to his illness.

“Now I can’t take my May Term, so I have to graduate in May 2017, which is still a year before my original date, so I’m not worried about that,” Argueta said.

Argueta flew home to Dallas on April 9.

“I was in a lot of pain and I couldn’t stand it at all so I dropped off my bags, ate a snack and then headed to the hospital, and I have been there ever since,” Argueta said.

Argueta had a biopsy last Friday, and results came back Thursday that he had lymphoma in his femur.

Argueta is applying his experience as a first-generation college student to his cancer diagnosis.

“Sometimes you feel the pressure of whether you’re going to make it (through college) or not because there (are) so many people that believe in you and want to see you succeed, and so if you don’t you still have that disappointment. But I always tell myself, I’m going to get through it, and I’m going to make it. It’s just in your mind,” Argueta said.

Argueta said he is trying to stay positive through his diagnosis.

“It did suck when they told me about it, but after that, it’s just positivity. And it’s all in your mind as long as I stay positive I’ll get through it,” Argueta said.

The support from Simpson students is helping him stay positive.

“I’m staying positive on my own, but the fact that all of the students are doing all these things on social media and people have been calling me and texting and sending me things, and it’s a really great feeling just to get that extra push,” Argueta said.

Argueta said all of the support reminds him of why he chose Simpson.

“It’s not a small college but a community. All of the people who are sharing things on Facebook are people that I know and people that I go to class with and people that I’m close with, so it’s pretty nice,” Argueta said.

Argueta appreciates all of the support but doesn’t want anyone to be sad about his diagnosis.

“That’s not the road I want to go down. I’ve been able to be positive and strong,” Argueta said. “I’m always happy, and I like to talk a lot and joke around a lot, so I want everyone to feel happy and just know that I’m pushing along, and I’ll be able to get back and hit up Mojo’s.”

Argueta received a PET Scan and had a rod put into his femur Monday because his bone is damaged from ignoring the pain for so long.

“Right now, they’re determining how aggressive the cancer is, and after that, they’ll talk about treatment, which I’m going to do chemotherapy within the next few months. And it could be for the next four or five months, but they’re not completely sure,” Argueta said.

Argueta said he is thankful for the support of his family, friends and Simpson staff.

“I’m so grateful to have met amazing people in a state that was completely new to me, and now I have come to develop a true love for Iowa. However, Texas is always the best state out there in my opinion,” he joked.

To alleviate the expected financial burden, Simpson College Student Support Services has organized a fundraiser and will be accepting free will donations in Kent Campus Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday.

All proceeds will benefit Argueta’s family and help with their medical expenses.

Donators will receive a lime green ribbon to spread cancer awareness.

Organizers encourage everyone to take a selfie and post it on social media with the hashtag #4Vicente to raise awareness and show support.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Argueta. To donate, go to