West High Awareness: Supporting Survivors


Nicole Goodman

Emotional moment after roses were given at volleyball Senior Night.

Karma Goodson, Reporter

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and as this month goes by, there is a lot West can do to show support, not just to Breast Cancer but to all cell-destroying diseases. September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness month and was not acknowledged nearly as much as it could have been by the student body as well as staff. But there are times where we have came together not as a school but as a community to support these survivors. One of the biggest goals I believe West should work towards this year is showing more support, sensitivity, and recognition to as many life effecting afflictions as we can to try and be as inclusive of a school as possible. In honor of Breast Cancer awareness month here are some ways to support, and keep the fight going.

Mr. Cassidy, coach and English teacher. (Karma Goodson )

As I went around interviewing some of the staff who were involved in events like this, Mr. Cassidy, one of the head Varsity girls’ basketball and volleyball coaches as well as English teacher at West told me, “During our first October home game, we recognize breast cancer survivors during our Senior Night. They are asked then to stand and share their stories. Our Seniors walked into the stands and gave survivors roses before the game started.” Cassidy continues by saying, “We gave flowers to honor the fight.” He also noted that Coaches vs Cancer, is a fundraiser that happens every basketball season. Coaches wear sneakers in honor of Jimmy Valvano, a legendary basketball coach who passed away from adenocarcinoma cancer.

Mr. Laube, math teacher. (Karma Goodson )

Continuing we interviewed Mr.Laube, an algebra 1 teacher on the third floor of West High that was diagnosed with prostate cancer and two Skin cancers: basal cell and squamous cell. Mr. Laube went in reflecting about support from West. He passionately said “Well, I think West has shown support for me because the people that know that I had battled cancer last year, reached out to me with emails and asked me how things were going. So I think everybody that knows has been doing a really good job of being supportive to me.” When discussing the importance of education on the topic Laube shared, “Some people don’t like to talk about it, you know, if they have cancer, or what they have. So I think if teachers feel comfortable about it, and kids have questions, then it’s also okay for kids to be able to come and say, Hey, if you ever got a question come. Some students’ parents might end up having it or grandpa and grandma might have it. And so if they know there’s a teacher that they could go to and ask questions about it, I think that might help them feel better about their loved one that’s having it, so you could maybe ask teachers to if they’d be willing to be on a list of what kind of cancer they had. So the counselors had it, they could send a student to talk to them.”

While teaching is already a demanding job, teaching with cancer adds even more demands. When first diagnosed, Laube shared how difficult it was to keep going. “The first week was really hard. Even though mine wasn’t serious. It’s still scary to obviously know you have cancer for the first time. I think for me, what kept me going just, in general, was my belief in God and knowing that he would take care of me, but I also knew that I really enjoy and love what I’m doing here at West. So I was really hopeful that I could have my surgery in the summer and then I wouldn’t have to miss school. And I could keep going. And the students here. I really liked the connections and relationships I’ve built. So I like to be here because they also make me feel good on most days,” said Laube.

In the past West has been able to do for students and staff battling cancer, creating shirts, and raising money and awareness for survivors and their families is definitely one of the strongest things we have ever done. Many examples of this are the Mayla Strong T-shirts West High and Hoover Middle School did to show their aid in the fight. Mayla was a West High student who battled rhabdomyosarcoma her Freshman year of high school. Family Strong T-shirts were also made for another Hoover Middle School Teacher, Mrs.Desarneo who battled breast cancer back in 2019. As well as those, there were shirts made that supported Mrs.Parker, a West High teacher, “Parker Strong.”

Overall, interviewing, listening, and being open on this topic widened my gaze on a lot of things at West, while there are other ways we could potentially show support, what we have done today is pretty amazing in itself. Remember the fight is never over, showing your love for others in their battle is the best thing you could ever do.