Richmond softball player overcomes scary diagnosis to play her senior year

Posted at 6:17 PM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 18:18:48-04

18-year-old Evelyn Swantek lives to play softball.

"I was sitting in the hospital bed and that thought in my mind, I just kept asking every time a doctor came in I was like ‘Can I play softball?'"

There was a time last summer when she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to play again.

"On August 24th I was having chest pain and I was having what they diagnosed me as a T.I.A (Transient Ischemic Attack).

Evelyn's mother, Julie, recalled the ordeal. "She wasn’t able to make words. Her face was numb. She couldn’t see out of her left eye for about three, four minutes. She was disoriented. She went up to her room, she didn’t remember going up there. She had all the signs of, you know, what you would look for in a stroke."

"They did a CT scan and they found I had three blot clots. One in my jugular vein," Swantek explained.

Her coach, Howard Stuart, remembers hearing the news. “I knew right away that she was in the hospital. And that kind of thing can really scare you. A high school kid in the hospital with blood clots in her head. And she’s a catcher. She takes all kinds of head shots. I mean, it scared me instantly, I’m thinking ‘I don’t know if she can play anymore!'"

"I got started on blood thinners in just a pill form. And then I started to have chest pain from that pill, and so I was rushed to the hospital again and that’s when I had my first two week stint in the hospital," Swantek explained.

Over the next few months Swantek spent a lot of time in the hospital.

“We had no answers as to why. We saw all kinds of specialists. We joke about how many ‘ologists’ Evelyn has. I think we’re up to 9 now.”>

Swantek was switched to a different kind of blood thinner — and in combination with various other medications — she was healthy enough to play softball this year. Her senior year.

"I was really excited to play. I’m a regular three-sport athlete. I play volleyball and basketball and the fact that I wasn’t able to play those this year was heartbreaking and so it just made my motivation to play softball just so much more," Swantek explained. "It was scary. I also have a scholarship on the line."

A full ride to play at Oakland Community College. Worrying about all of that is a lot of stress for a teenager. But the way Swantek has handled it is nothing short of inspiring.

"Ya I mean I’ve broke down a couple times but I have a really great support system through it all. You know, my family is the best," said Swantek.

Swantek's mother says the whole family is in awe of Evelyn's strength. "She’s just so strong through this all. We’re so proud of her for how strong she’s handled…for an 18-year-old to go through all this."

Despite everything she's been through -- and the fact that she'll be dealing with this condition for the rest of her life -- her positivity shines. "At my age you don’t hear of 17 year olds getting blood clots. Especially not in the neck. That’s a scary place to have it. So I was…at first I was very emotional about it, but throughout it all I’ve just focused on…softball."