ME is gone.
Intern Mary Elizabeth Bennett is heading back to Chapel Hill for her senior year. She had her last day at WBTV News. Sad for me. ME is smart, funny, organized, driven, fell in love with ?#MollysKids, worked insane hours beside me, produced videos, went to charity events, learned to write great articles, helped me eat pretzel M&M's, and even babysat Parker and Hutch one night. I already miss her.
ME also said she has one last contribution. Said she wants to write her own #MollysKids post. A personal one. Wanted to know if I'd post it for her?
Yes. Of course. Read on. I'm posting the whole thing.
A fun and productive summer, ME. I appreciate you and your passion.
This is my final summer internship contribution. I'm sending it before heading back to Chapel Hill. This ?#MollysKids story I'm about to write hits home. It's about my cousin, Seth Strickland in Shelby.
He's why I am passionate about pediatric cancer, raising awareness, and finding cures. You've featured him for years. He's one reason I came to follow you. He got great news this week. As you might say, "I want to shout it from mountaintops."
Thanks for everything!!
-ME (Mary Elizabeth)
By Mary Elizabeth Bennett, WBTV Intern - Seth Strickland was diagnosed in June of 2010 with osteosarcoma. He was 12 years old. I will never forget the day we found out he had cancer – we'd just gotten back from one of our annual family trips to Disney World. Everything was perfectly fine on the trip. It didn't seem real.
Why would an innocent 8th grader have to go through this? Why Seth? At 12, a young man should be concerned about friends, football, and their Friday night. But my cousin's focus shifted to life and death, cancer and chemo, pain and prayer.
Through complicated surgeries and months of treatments for metastatic osteosarcoma of his right femur, Seth could have been consumed by fear, anger, and bitterness. Instead, he responded with courage, perseverance, and faith. It has been inspirational.
He mustered a strength, peace, and optimism that impressively outpaced the gravity of his situation. For four years, he encountered pain and nausea he says he could never have imagined. He spent months learning to walk again following his initial surgery on the tumor in his leg.
Just when he was regaining his strength and preparing to return to his middle school where he was student body president, he learned of an enlarging tumor in his lung.
This resulted in another surgery with complications causing prolonged hospitalization thousands of miles away from home at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital in Houston.
Every time our family thought Seth was cancer-free, another spot would come up. More chemo. More radiation. More surgeries. It was never-ending.
Through it all, he kept a smile on his face. He'd always tell us, "Everything will be OK. I just know it."
His attitude changed my perspective on life. When tempted to grumble about a difficult test or arduous assignment, I think of how he completed eighth grade through home-schooling, and how he got straight A's despite the overwhelming sickness and emotional turmoil. (He is brilliant.)
After one long, stressful day, I remember his determination to continue playing the guitar and viola. He asked his music teacher to come to his home. He wanted to be a normal student and not miss anything.
Even more importantly, through my younger cousin's example and experience I learned to reach deep within for strength and courage when faced with unknown, challenging situations. I deepened my faith in God. I have come to more sincerely value family and friends and worry less about petty differences.
I know relationships are more important than accomplishments and each day can be more valuable than the one before, not just a stepping stone to a better tomorrow.
Seth was slated to start college at NC State University. He has been really excited to go.
That's why I wanted to write this... last week Seth had all clear scans!
He remains cancer-free, two years now and counting. He can go to State! He's approved and ready! He heads there this weekend.
I cannot explain how proud I am of Seth. He is a survivor, a cousin and my hero.
Futures are uncertain. We often don't realize how our lives affect those around us. I doubt Seth really knows how much his life experience has had on me. But no matter what is thrown my way, I know because of him I can say with renewed confidence what Seth always preached, "Everything will be OK. I just know it."
Here's to the next chapter of your life, Seth. I love you!