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Help For Hero

“Tonight, I will have my second Japanese lesson. I have studiedmy words on some flashcards that I made, and now I am ready. Wannaread a Japanese sentence?” writes Brookhaven’s own Maggie Cupit, aRhodes College sophomore. “Uma kore desu. Translation: This ishorse.”

The bubbly Brookhaven High School graduate who excelled ateverything that she put her mind to could have posted that entry onher Facebook, or Myspace, or any other social networking site.Instead it is to be found on caringbridge.org, a site that isdedicated to letting people with various forms of cancer and otherillnesses keep those they love updated on their progress whilethey’re in treatment.

“My pet peeve is hearing people complain about things theyshouldn’t complain about, the sorts of things I used to complainabout all the time that I now never even think about,” Maggiewrites. “The boy you had a crush on didn’t reciprocate. You don’tlike taking summer classes and you wish you had more time to layaround … You have to choose between Edward and Jacob. Bless yourheart.”

Maggie had just gotten finished with her first year at Rhodesand, after having won a prestigious chemistry award, was supposedto start an internship in the children’s cancer wing of St. JudeChildren’s Hospital in Memphis.

On the day that she was set to begin, she was instead diagnosedwith Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. The tumor is 4 inchestall and is at the top of her tibia bone, she said on herCaringBridge page.

And in her words, “I will be getting chemo, surgery, and morechemo.”

Maggie’s uncle, Carlisle Henderson, decided something needed tobe done not only to help Maggie, but those like her. So heorganized a blood drive set for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. atthe Episcopal Church of the Redeemer’s Fellowship Hall, and he toldMississippi Blood Services to bring extra resources.

“I have told them that I’ve had a signup sheet, and I’ve linedup a lot of people, a lot have responded and said they’d be there,”Henderson said. “Blood Services has said they’ll have enough bedsand staff there that they hope there won’t be a line.”

Workers at the drive will accept donations of blood andplatelets. Henderson said technically the blood drive is for St.Jude Hospital, but it’s in Maggie’s name.

Ironically, Maggie is receiving her treatment in the samehospital she was supposed to have been taking a major step in hercareer in this summer. She is now a third of the way through hertreatments.

“The best way for me to put it is when you see this up close,you realize not only how much the cancer devastates someone’s body,but the cure or the medicine that they give for the chemotherapykills your body even more,” Henderson said. “St. Jude is forchildren, and all these children up at St. Jude need blood.”

Meanwhile, Maggie keeps on keeping on. Those who knew her at BHSknew of her indomitable spirit and constant drive tooverachieve.

Henderson said she still keeps busy with several activitiesbesides the Japanese lessons. She takes guitar lessons, danceclasses, and is helping one of her professors learn moreEnglish.

But prayers are needed. Even the strongest fighters still needprayers, her family said.

“Her spirits are high, she of course goes through periods whereshe feels bad, but I’m amazed at how well she’s doing with allthis, and the strength that she has,” Henderson said. “But she’sscared, and I know a lot of people talk about how strong she’s beenand how she’s handled this, but the last time we talked she saidthat she was really scared.”

And Maggie journals some of that for herself at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/maggiecupit/journal.She talks about how cancer will forever be a part of her life now,and she will always have to worry about whether it will come back,or spread, or whether she can have children of her own.

But even if she doesn’t realize it, she still finds the silverlining.

“But the moment I am in remission will be the happiest I haveever been. I will breathe deeper than I ever did before. I willlaugh harder and think deeper and love myself. And though I willnever understand why some people claim I am now their hero becauseof my cancer, I will be my most cherished hero yet,” she writes. “Acancer survivor … One of the 70 percent of the one in 2 millionthat are diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. For the first time in mylife, I will be my own hero.”