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Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

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October 26, 2023

    Cancer combat successes inspire Coppell residents

    By Christina Burke
    Managing Editor

    Twenty-four year-old Courtney Crosby, a 2007 Coppell High School graduate, was on a mission trip in Israel last February when she got the call from her mother. The lump in her throat was diagnosed as type 2A Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

    It all started with a cold Crosby had conjured up last January, but peculiarly, her lymph nodes remained swollen long after she had defeated the illness. Confused and concerned, Crosby decided to have her doctor check it out. Little did she know she would be meeting with an oncologist two months later to discuss options for cancer treatment.

    “It was definitely not anything I was prepared for, or anything I thought could happen especially because of my lifestyle choices,” Crosby said. “I didn’t think people this young could get something this serious.”

    The diagnosis hit Crosby and her family with complete and utter disbelief, especially her sister, CHS senior Maggie Crosby, who did not want to assume the worst.

    “It was so difficult because she’s my best friend and it was really hard. I couldn’t lose her,” Maggie said. “We took every day as a gift, and I am so thankful everyday that we still have her.”

    Courtney endured 12 treatments of chemotherapy every other Friday for about six months starting at the end of March. Although the treatments took a lot out of her, she found that surrounding herself with positive people helped her keep her head up through the hard times.

    “The biggest thing was just attitude,” Courtney said. “It was so easy to feel bad and sit in that dark place. It is really easy to be negative. I had friends that would mail me letters or visit me. Those were the weeks I didn’t feel as sick. It wasn’t a one person fight.”

    Courtney’s family played a big part in her battle against the lymphoma. The Crosbys grew closer together in the months they spent praying for a miracle.

    “My sister makes me reconsider things such as being more positive and never giving up,” Maggie said. “Just seeing her be so strong and never quit, it made our friendship grow even stronger.”

    Courtney teaches science at Williams High School, and her students played a big part in her fight with lymphoma. They wrote her letters, drew her pictures and even presented her with a pair of fuzzy socks she wore to every single treatment. In return, she showed them how to stay positive when dealing with cancer.

    “I teach biology and chemistry, and I was able to bring it up in class to make it more real to them,” Courtney said. “It was a good conversation because unfortunately a lot of people do get cancer at some time. Now they have a positive story to share.”

    Courtney is now in remission, and serves as a headstrong example of positivity for cancer patients. Like Courtney, Coppell resident Candy Sheehan was completely taken aback by her diagnosis of breast cancer in 2007, but she did not let it get in the way of her ambitions.

    “I had just signed up for an Ironman, and at some point I decided ‘I can’t have cancer rule my life, and it’s not going to determine what or who I am’. I was determined to fight it and win,” Sheehan said.

    To the dismay of her doctor, Sheehan claimed that a little bit of cancer was not going to stop her from running the Ironman in November. However, her close friend and triathlon training partner CHS teacher Ginger Smith was not at all surprised by this decision.

    “The ironman was on her plan before she found out she had cancer,” Smith said. “Cancer only served as an obstacle. There was no way it was going to stop her. When Candy decides on something, she does not falter.”

    Smith trained alongside Sheehan for several months before the triathlon. Sheehan’s exercise schedule worked around two surgeries in May and several rounds of chemotherapy in the months that followed. She trained intently- two weeks on, one week off- leading up to the event to ensure that she was strong enough to fight to the finish.

    “Candy is a fighter. She is a positive person. She never dwells on the negative. You will never hear her complain about her life situations. It is what it is,” Smith said. “Candy will find a way to overcome whatever is handed to her. She always makes the best of every situation.”

    Sheehan’s positive attitude and hard work paid off when she accomplished the seemingly impossible: crossed the finish line.

    Candy Sheehan crosses the finish line of her Ironman Triathlon in November 2007 while being treated for breast cancer. Photo curtosey of Candy Sheehan.
    Candy Sheehan crosses the finish line of her Ironman Triathlon in November 2007 while being treated for breast cancer. Photo curtosey of Candy Sheehan.

    “I was a lot slower at everything I did, but I thought, ‘This is what I had to do to kind of keep going.’ It was something to focus on and a goal to be reaching for,” Sheehan said. “I crossed the finish line just as bald as I could be, and I couldn’t have been prouder or happier in my life.”

    Two months after the Ironman, in January 2008, Sheehan was pronounced cleared of her cancer, and has remained cancer free for the last five years. She partook in a second Ironman in 2012, this time proudly chemical free.

    The public’s response to Sheehan’s fierce cancer combat earned her a nomination for Coppell’s Hometown Hero in 2011 and left those close to her significantly impacted.

    “Candy is an inspiration with or without cancer,” Smith said. “She has become an example as to how to deal with huge obstacles. Candy is a survivor because of her positive attitude, because of her love of life, and her stubborn will. Candy is my hero, and she is an example for us all.”

    Sheehan fought her way to survival with spirit and dedication, and she still seizes the opportunity to share her tale of positivity even today so that people know it is possible to make it through the hard times.

    “It is a story that can inspire people,” Sheehan said. “You don’t have to have cancer to have something negative in your life, and you don’t need an Ironman to get you out of that, but you just need to focus on something positive.”

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