Skip to content
Deacon Keith Fournier Hi reader, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Special graduates - Facing fear, facing the future

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

Samantha Simon said that and I will never doubt anything she says. The 17-year-old was one of 15 young people attending a special ceremony in June marking their graduation from high school. They wore traditional caps and gowns, but the setting wasn't the school gym. The students, along with family, friends and teachers, gathered in a place they'd come to know well: Manhattan's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The teens were part of a program called Hospital Schools. New York City's Department of Education provides teachers for young people who are being treated for cancer or other debilitating diseases or injuries that prevent them from taking classes at their regular schools. Forty-two hospitals participate in the program, which has served students for the last 30 years. Officially, the students graduate from their own high schools, but this year Memorial Sloan-Kettering decided to honor its "graduating" patients in a special way.

These young people face challenges that most adults would find daunting. Samantha Simon, for instance, has been getting radiation treatments for the last two years for the same type of bone cancer that killed her mother. Megan Popkin, who delivered the graduate address, has a muscle cancer. Sylvia Hobbs has survived leukemia and a serious leg infection. Today, each of them, like most of their fellow graduates, is looking forward to the next phase of their lives - as college freshmen.

Being able to keep up with their studies brings a sense of normalcy to these remarkable young people at an extraordinarily painful and difficult time. Mary Maher, principal of the Hospital Schools program, says, "In these schools the teacher comes in the room and they're so happy to see them because everyone else is coming at them taking blood or to do an IV."

Samantha Simon's teacher, for example, helped her with more than economics, chemistry and English. Mary Ellen Fitzsimmons held books for her student when she was too weak to hold them herself. And when even reading was too much for the young woman, Fitzsimmons read aloud to her. "Some days, she didn't feel well, but we did it anyway," says the teacher.

I think that attitude was what impressed me most about this story when it made the news. These young people, facing a life-or-death crisis, must will themselves to keep going, despite their fear, despite their suffering. They focus on the future, knowing that they might not ever make it past today. I can't imagine how a teenager, consumed with all the day-to-day dreams and desires that are part of growing up, learns to handle a devastating diagnosis. I can't imagine how their parents handle it either. I can only feel awe at the accomplishment of all who live in hope, not in some theoretical pie-in-the-sky way, but through minute-by-minute choices to keep looking forward and moving forward - no matter what.

I hope I remember those young people now and then, and say a prayer for them. I hope you do, too.

- - -

Dennis Heaney is president of The Christophers

- - -

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, "How to Live with Cancer - Ideas for Healing, Help and Hope," write: The Christophers, 12 East 48th St., New York, N.Y. 10017; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org.

Contact

The Christophers
http://www.christophers.org ,
Dennis Heaney - ,

Email

Keywords

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,717

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.