Ewing sarcoma is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue. It occurs in children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 20. The tumor is usually found in the bones of the arms, legs, pelvis, spine, or ribs; then it spreads to the lungs. This story is a true story about a young woman named Lauren Marie Weller Sidorowicz who was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma at the age of 17.
I got the pleasure to meet Lauren last year. I was transferring to a new Catholic school called St. Mary’s Ryken, and I was interested in joining their volleyball team. I got the opportunity to meet the two volleyball coaches, Lauren and a lady by the name of Donyelle. Lauren coached the varsity team and Donyelle coached the junior varsity team. Lauren was the head volleyball coach at St. Mary’s Ryken so I met her first. I will never forget the welcoming smile she had on her face when I introduced myself. Even though I was extremely nervous about trying out for the volleyball team, Lauren continually encouraged me to persevere. Thanks to Lauren, I made the junior varsity team.
Later on, throughout the season, I found out that Lauren has a rare cancerous disease called Ewing sarcoma. I had no idea what this was until I began to research it. While researching, I realized that people become diagnosed with this disease between the ages of 10 and 20; Lauren was 26. I knew that this meant she was diagnosed way before now. Therefore, I began asking some of the people on my volleyball team that has known Lauren for a long time to find out when she was diagnosed with this Ewing sarcoma. They told me she was diagnosed at the age of 17.
At age 19, the doctors told Lauren that she was only supposed to live for 5 years, and she is now 26. There were days at volleyball practice where she would be better and other days where she would be getting worse. Eventually, the tumor had spread completely to her lungs and she would have to come to our volleyball practices with an oxygen tank. It was truly heartbreaking for our entire volleyball team to see Lauren hooked up to that oxygen tank in order to survive. There was nothing we could do about it except pray for Lauren before every practice and every game.
Lauren was loosing so much weight and continually getting worse. She began to be in the hospital every day and unable to make it to any of our practices or games. Our volleyball team donated every winning game to Lauren. We even called Lauren at the hospital to let her know we won the game just for her. It was really depressing for our volleyball team to see a sweet, loving, and strong Christian women like Lauren slowly slip away from us.
One day, the entire volleyball team received this e-mail on December 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm:
Ryken Volleyball Players,
I just received the following information and was asked to share this with the team.
Lauren Weller passed away this morning around 9:30. Campus Ministry is setting up a prayer/memorial service for the team in the Ryken Chapel on Friday at 10:30am following the exams. You're encouraged to speak with your parents about this and if anyone would like to speak to their counselor or campus minister, they are welcome to come in. Chris Shea in the Campus Ministry has an open schedule during exams this week and is arranging the prayer service.
When our volleyball team received this e-mail, we all began to break down into tears. There was absolutely nothing we could do about it, except become stronger as a team. Coach Lauren Marie Weller Sidorowicz will forever be in our hearts and prayers. No one will ever be able to replace Lauren, but we must continue to develop our volleyball team at St. Mary’s Ryken, for the sake of Lauren. Maybe some people just are not meant to stay in our lives forever; maybe some people are just passing through. It is like some people just come through our lives to bring us something, a lesson we need to learn, and that is why they are there. Some people come into our lives and quickly go, leaving footprints in our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.