Winning the Fight against Cancer

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by Melissa Brunner

We've shared a lot of stories on the news about young people who are fighting various forms of cancer. It's been my pleasure to run across some very positive updates recently.

Photographer Doug Brown encountered a pleasant surprise Wednesday in covering the Gradient Gives Back presentation to the Seidel family. When the staff told him the name, he recognized it from the many stories we did on young Jessica as she battled a rare form of cancer. What a delight to see her all grown up - age 17 now - and looking fantastic! The excitement over seeing a beautiful, glowing smile is tempered by knowing the financial struggles that continue for her family. However, as her dad, David said, they are a family and they are in this together. Their spirit is inspiring and we wish them all the best.

Our Thanksgiving story on second grader Karis Selk is the true meaning of giving thanks. Our heart soared to see Karis posing with a sign that read, "I am cancer free!" Following her family's updates on Facebook, she continues to grow stronger and attend school on a regular basis. Go, Karis, go!

I've also been following Facebook updates on Luke from Clay Center. We shared the second grader's story in October. His mom reports that tests show he is technically in remission, however, they continue chemo to wipe out any microscopic traces that remain. His strongest round yet is set to begin the day after Christmas. We know they appreciate all the prayers for Luke to remain "Tiger Tough!" He's a trooper!

Finally, I want you to know abut Zach Linquist, the Perry-Lecompton senior who was diagnosed with leukemia in early October. Initially, he faced weeks, if not months, in the hospital. He responded so well to treatment that he was released within the week and returned to school not long after. He told us he hoped to regain enough strength for baseball season, or even, optimistically, to rejoin the basketball team in January. Maybe it is the stubborn determination of youth, but Zach beat even those expectations. Tuesday night, I was able to attend the Silver Lake/Perry basketball game - and there was Zach in the starting lineup for the Kaws. He plays with protective gear over the port in his chest, kept in the event he should need a dose of traditional chemo in addition to the daily pill he takes. His team ended up losing the game in double overtime, but don't tell me Zach isn't winning something far more important.

He and all of these young people inspire me beyond belief for their drive to live despite the obstacles cancer has thrown in their paths. They do it with smiles and (for the most part) without much complaint. Here's hoping for even more positive updates as they pursue their dreams!



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