Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
- Former NBA baller Rex Chapman is known for sharing heartfelt content on his Twitter feed, the latest is an inspiring video of high school girls helping a teammate with cancer cross the finish line during a relay that she has to walk.
- Cancer survivor Yeva Klingbeil, who is battling a rare form of sarcoma and hasn’t been able to run, holds hands with her friends, getting cheers after crossing the finish line.
- Support goes a long way with people going through cancer, especially younger patients; other child and teen survivors share their stories of solidarity with SurvivorNet.
At a track and field meet, cancer survivor Yeva Klingbeil, who used to be on the cross country team, is helped across the finish line by three teammates in the touching video. The girls, from Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY, hold Klingbeil’s hands and walk with her for a 4×1 relay.Read More
When they crossed the finish line, cheers erupted for the girl in a sweet celebratory moment of support.
Former NBA basketball player Rex Chapman, who is known for posting heartwarming news on his feed, helped share the inspiring video that has now gone viral. “There is NOTHING like being on a team…” he said.
There is NOTHING like being on a team… https://t.co/ZOYXzG7HSX
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) May 25, 2021
The teen warrior, whose Instagram is private, displays an inspiring message at the top.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,” she wrote with a yellow ribbon, which is a symbol for sarcoma, or bone cancer. She got diagnosed in October 2019 with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that affects muscle tissue, and there was a large mass in her jaw, attached to a nerve.
The teen, who hasn’t been able to run since 2019, went through chemo and radiation, and unfortunately suffered some damage to her brain stem, the part of the brain that connects the cerebrum (largest part of the brain) with the spinal cord, and was struggling to swallow and breathe.
“It was really cool to have my family and friends there to keep me positive,” Klingbeil said of her fight. “If I wasn’t positive I wouldn’t have made it through the year.”
Klingbiel still wanted to be around her teammates while she battled cancer. She would still go to summer practices and mainly cheers her friends on during their races from the sidelines.
Cancer and cancer treatment may affect people’s lives in awful ways, and it can be exceptionally hard for younger people, but it shouldn’t take away the things you love to do. Even if you have to do a modified version of the exercise; the hike, the walk, the swim, the climb—and in this case, the run—it’s absolutely necessary to keep on pushing.
What is Rhabdomyosarcoma?
These rare types of cancers are more common in children. Overall, sarcomas are cancers that “develop from connective tissues in the body, such as muscles, fat, bones, the linings of joints, or blood vessels,” according to the American Cancer Society. There are many types of sarcomas.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a type made up of cells in the skeletal muscles, which control most parts of our body.
Common sites of RMS include:
- The head and neck (such as near the eye, inside the nasal sinuses or throat, or near the spine in the neck), like in Yeva’s case
- Urinary and reproductive organs (bladder, prostate gland, or any of the female organs)
- Arms and legs
- Trunk (chest and abdomen)
There are 2 main types of RMS, along with some less common types. Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) is the type that usually affects children up to the age of 5, but it can affect children at older ages as well. ERMS most often occurs in the head and neck area, or pelvic region. Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) does not discriminate with age groups, and most often occurs in large muscles of the trunk, arms and legs. ARMS most often grows faster than ERMS and requires more treatment.
Pushing Forward Through Cancer, Survivor Stories
SurvivorNet has met a couple of inspiring survivors who have similar attitudes to Yeva. These fighters remind other survivors to get up and keep going. Survivors are tough. Especially these kids who are going through something intense that most people their age will never experience. It’s best to look on the bright side of things and say “I can.” Your will is stronger than you think.
One of the survivors we have spoken to, Chrissy DeGenarro, who got diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a cancer of plasma cells) as a teen, told us about the feeling that being supported by your friends through cancer brings.
“I want to give hope. Because I know when I was diagnosed, I had my friends for support, who were amazing, but nobody I knew had had cancer,” she said. “And I want others to know that there’s people out there that have been through this and that all good things are possible– miracles, hope, just you gotta keep going and wait for the next thing.”
An eight-year-old sarcoma survivor showed that she was one tough cookie, literally, by selling a record amount of Girl Scout Cookies.
Lilly Bumpus was born with Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer that is often found in children and young adults. Before her first birthday, Lilly went through intense rounds of chemotherapy and had some of her bones removed from her chest wall. The treatments were successful.
At eight years old, Lilly has spent seven years in remission. Currently, Lilly has some abnormal bone growth due to some side effects from the chemotherapy, but that does not stop her from enjoying activities like roller skating with her mom. “It’s the best gift in life I will ever be given is watching her live life,” her mom, Trish, says. “So, whatever the world can bring at us, I know we’re going to take it on.”
Lilly has also taken on a rather impressive “sales job” at such a young age and sold 32,000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies during the pandemic, shattering records.
“It’s up to us what we make out of every day and every moment that we are given, and we choose to put one foot forward every day and we choose to look on the bright side of life,” Trish says.