Cancer, you will not defeat us
April 23, 2019
Cancer impacts everyone in a community and it takes over people’s lives, however, everyone diagnosed does not give up hope. Cancer hits close to home and sometimes becomes a touchy topic to discuss as people lose their lives every day. My dad, Andrew Kish, battled cancer for five months after his diagnosis of b-cell diffuse lymphoma in his right tonsil, which is rare for younger men and normally occur in older men. His cancer began spreading to his left tonsil then took two lymph nodes in the back of his neck making the cancer move to stage 2. During these five months, my family overcame obstacles as some days were better than others since his mood would fluctuate between happy, upset, or worn out. Luckily my story ends on a positive note as he beat cancer just four months after his chemotherapy began, but other people cannot say the same for their family and loved ones. Having someone in my family diagnosed with cancer truly changed my view on life, and over time, I have come to understand how someone diagnosed with cancer can impact an entire community.
Cancer, the second leading cause of death among United States citizens, can impact everyone in a community. When diagnosed with cancer, patients generally become depressed and they need to learn how to cope with the new chapter in their life. Cancer cells lie in everyone’s body, but the slim likelihood of them becoming active let people become less worried about cancer. People may live and die without those cancer cells becoming active, but everyone in the NC community knows someone or knows of someone, who lost his/her life battling cancer.
Cancer also impacts those around in the community. People in the NC community encounter this topic quite frequently as the community feels the effects right as it happens.
“There have been many people recently who have been diagnosed with cancer and I hate that people are going through this terrible disease,” Magnet sophomore Jackson Kutsche said.
The NC community, impacted by cancer greatly, feels the need to share their stories to spread awareness of this deadly disease. Their stories follow.
Once a German teacher here at NC, Mrs. Gabrielle Sedlacek, diagnosed with liver cancer, sadly passed after battling cancer for six years. Before her passing, she and her husband dreamt of owning a house on a farm. Several years ago, they bought 60 acres of land and built their dream home. She loved her family and animals so much that when her last days came around, she resided at her house where she spent time with her family and her animals overlooking their pond. Sedlacek impacted NC by always looking at things positively and never gave up on what she loved even when she battled cancer. She will be deeply missed as NC changed since her passing.
“‘I love you, but not romantically,’ was the thing that she told everybody. So that’s her legacy, to love everybody,” assistant principal Mrs. Mary Goodwin said.
About nine years ago Sedlacek began battling liver cancer, as lesions began to cover the outside of her liver. Sedlacek went through chemotherapy and things started looking up for her. Three years passed and she returned for chemotherapy needing a section of her liver removed in April of 2013. She began feeling sick again in 2017 and went to receive chemotherapy and lived cancer-free for six months in 2017. In May of 2018, cancer returned and she spent a good amount of her summer break in and out of the hospital. In September, Sedlacek went to a specialist in Alabama and the doctors told her the cancer returned and they could not perform operations to remove it. After two months, Sedlacek went to the hospital and later registered for hospice where she then died in November 2018.
Assistant Principal Goodwin shared a deep and personal relationship with Sedlacek and still struggles to cope with her death. Goodwin keeps Sedlacek’s school ID with her at her desk so she can always see Sedlacek’s smiling face and reminded of their friendship.
“I am still dealing with that, [being] that we were friends before I became her boss. We still had a special relationship to the point where when she fell in the front lobby a year ago, she would not go to the hospital unless I went with her. I stayed with her through the day even though her family was there, she did not want me to leave. She confided to me throughout her whole illness,” Goodwin said.
Sedlacek’s passing affected everyone at NC as nobody expected her to die so soon. She battled cancer for nine years and went through chemotherapy treatments to try and beat the cancer. Faculty and students describe Sedlacek as always wearing a smile on her face even when things did not favor her.
“She was such a positive spirit. I try to look at things more through the way Gabi would have looked at it because she loved teaching, loved the kids, and she loved everything she did here at NC. Gabi always provided positive attitudes, even during hard times. She would always look at the brighter side of everything. Even when her son passed away, she still would try to find the goodness in everything,” Goodwin said.
Fatima Asad, described as a positive light in her friend’s life, passed away because of osteosarcoma at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
“She was very goofy and she loved joking around a lot. She was the person that anyone can be around since she wasn’t mean or anything. She always made sure everyone was in a good mood regardless of what she was going through,” junior Marwa Abusaid said.
After her sudden passing, NC paid respects to Asad and changed the theme of the next NC football game to a “Pinkout” in tribute to her. A week later, Asad’s family and Marwa Abusaid put together a memorial for Asad where the NC community came together to speak about Asad and how she impacted those around her.
Back in 2017, Asad fell at Mountasia and something began hurting her. She went to the doctor multiple times and then they figured out a tumor began growing, but the doctors did not know if the cancer activated. Asad went to the hospital and participated in an MRI scan and found out she had bone cancer, osteosarcoma, on October 19. She dealt with it for almost a year until she passed away.
Losing someone close to age makes people realize that anything can happen. Death can strike at any moment and take those who people would never expect. After the passing of Asad, it took a long time for people to recover as she lit up whatever room she walked into and made everyone happy. Imagine losing someone so close to oneself, close enough to call them ‘best friend.’ Marwa Abusaid went through this and lost her best friend and nobody deserves to lose their best friend, especially as teenagers.
“It affected me a lot, because my uncle is the only person in my life who has ever passed away, and you would never think you would lose your best friend this early in your life, so it was very hard and I went into a depression mode, but then I had people around me to get me out of that and my family was really there for me and I am still close with her family. She was in a lot of pain, but then you realize that she was better off,” Abusaid said.
Senior Rasheeda Hullum battled rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue, and survived. At the age of 9, Hullum’s doctors diagnosed her with rhabdomyosarcoma at the joint of her elbow. While in and out of school, she received chemotherapy for over a year and did radiation as well. First, the doctors started her off on a weaker round of chemotherapy and then 6-week radiation. That dosage did not fulfill the requirements so the doctors prescribed stronger chemotherapy and then added on two more weeks of radiation, which also did not work. After that, they did a biopsy and the doctors said if they do not amputate the right arm then it would end in death.
Hullum’s story differentiates from previous stories as she survived cancer that could have turned out extremely fatal. When diagnosed with cancer at such a young age, most kids would not know what to do in that sense if it impacted them.
“It was scary at first ‘cause when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t understand what was going on but then I started to understand and try to pick up on what they were doing. Then it got [more scary] because a year or two ago before I was diagnosed, my mom had a stroke. My dad had to take on a lot of responsibility by taking care of me and then her and I was so young and I was at the hospital all the time,” Hullum said.
Hullum, only 9 at the time of her diagnosis, went through more hardships than what most 9-year-olds go through. Even though the only way for Hullum to survive was with the loss of her right arm, going through with the procedure brought her one step closer to becoming a normal kid again and going to school and making friends.
Being an amputee, Hullum went through hurdles to try and get used to only having one arm, requiring her to train herself how to use her other arm,since she lost her dominant arm.
“I have adapted a lot because I had to tie my shoes with my teeth, and putting on clothes at first was hard but then I got used to it, and then writing was hard because I was right handed so I had to learn how to write with my left hand, which was really frustrating, because I was trying and trying and it would just look so bad,” Hullum said.
Relay for Life
To help find a cure for cancer, the American Cancer Society, organizes a yearly event called Relay for Life in May. NC partakes in this event and raises the most money in Cobb County out of all the other high schools. Raising over $6,000 so far, NC hopes to raise more in the upcoming days. Science teachers Mrs. Julie Hopp and Ms. Jennifer Johnson, sponsors for Relay for Life at NC, help make a difference as they run the before-school club and make the students raise money for the event all throughout the school year.
“Relay for Life has multiple aspects of importance in my life. One is that I am most directly touched by cancer because my grandmother passed away when I was three from breast cancer, but I also have numerous friends who have been affected by cancer in some way either by surviving or passing. Helping fight cancer is one of the reasons why I joined, but also it is a great way to connect with students at our school who are socially minded and interested in making a difference,” Johnson said.
This event helps raise money for the American Cancer Society as schools, companies, clubs, and families all set up tents and try to sell goods where all profits go directly towards to help find a cure. This year, the event embarks a new theme as booths and survivors deck out and decorate to resemble The Incredibles. So far, Relay for Life has raised over $241,000 as their main goal is to reach $380,000 before the day of the event. Relay for Life impacts people’s lives affected by cancer, who lost hope in finding a cure for the deadly disease. Every penny helps make a difference and puts the world one step closer to putting an end to cancer.
Cancer affects not only those who have it but also those around them since everyone’s story differentiates. Cancer causes people to live, pass, and currently struggle with it. Everyone who fights cancer puts up a fight as they want to come out on top and still make a difference in the world. Many do not realize that one small factor can impact someone’s life forever.