Amanda Siencki can still remember her cancer diagnosis. It was a Wednesday in November 2014, two days after having a biopsy of a mass in her chest, the culmination of “this scan and that test.” She was in the kitchen with her mother, Cathy Siencki.
“I really didn’t know what was happening until my mom said it,” said Amanda Sienicki, now a Kinnelon (N.J.) High School senior.
“Word for word: ‘You have Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Do you know what that is?’ She made me say it. I said, ‘It’s cancer of the lymph nodes.”
Amanda Sienicki was in seventh grade, the eldest of triplets accustomed to doing things together. The trio — Amanda and Ashley, and Allison, born a minute later — had started playing volleyball at Pearl R. Miller Middle School the previous fall.
“I love volleyball season in general,” said Amanda Sienicki, a Kinnelon setter. “It’s probably the best time of year for me. It gives me something to do. I love having a set schedule: go to practice, go to school. I’ve made friends out of it who are basically family. We’re a volleyball family.”
For the Sienickis, that’s a literal statement. All three sisters are sometimes on the court at the same time, causing Cathy and Tom Sienicki extra drama. The triplets also have a younger brother, Matthew, a Kinnelon sophomore who is rehabilitating after elbow surgery in July and hoping to be ready for basketball season.
Kinnelon will host Caldwell on Tuesday for its annual Dig Pink fundraiser for breast cancer research. Freshmen and junior varsity will play at 4 p.m, followed by varsity. The Colts have raised about $12,000 in head coach Stephanie Finke’s tenure, with funds earmarked for the Side-Out Foundation.
“Sitting and watching, it’s like your whole heart is on the court and you can’t control it,” Cathy Sienicki said. “All you can do is watch. … We’ve got one in the back row, a setter and a hitter, and once in a while we get a bump, set, spike. It’s fun, but in a big game, oh my gosh, it’s a lot of responsibility. They don’t seem to mind it. I think Mom and Dad are more worried than they are.”
One for all, all for one
Born within two minutes of each other but two months early, the triplets spent the first two weeks of life in the neonatal intensive care unit “learning to take a bottle and breathe at the same time,” according to Cathy Sienicki. Amanda was the smallest, just three pounds and 11 ounces.
She was reborn cancer free on June 18, 2015, after six rounds of chemotherapy and three weeks of proton-beam radiation.