CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Something Concord senior Noah Monroe has done numerous times in his life as he gets ready to receive his diploma.
COVID-19 has taken a lot from all of us and Noah is no exception. But in the 8th grade, something else threatened to take it all away from Noah... cancer.
“Rhabdomyosarcoma... It’s a pediatric cancer of the skeletal muscles,” explains Noah.
The things he loved to do athletically like running and swimming taken away due to the cancer treatment.
“Part of chemotherapy, there is a drug that tightened up my leg muscles. So initially I had a hard time walking. So I had to learn how to walk again and learn how to run.”
But what bothered Noah the most in his darkest days was perhaps not being able to graduate with his friends in 2020.
"Probably a month after being diagnosed, I wasn’t feeling great and I was just thinking maybe I should take some time off from school and just focus on doing this treatment, but my mom told me if you want to keep going and graduate from school with them that you need to keep going. I told her when I was diagnosed that I didn’t want this disease to make me any different. I just want to be just like my friends.
So when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.
Noah stayed with things on the academic side as he currently has a 4.5 GPA. He eventually got his leg strength back up enough to run cross country and to swim. This past season, in his senior season, he was a captain on the swim team at Concord High School. Noah isn’t the fastest swimmer, but his fierce determination earned him that captain’s "C".
“Being captain in swim, usually it’s going to go to the fastest person, but when coach (Ray) Morgan told me I was going to be captain, I knew all my hard work, going to practice, and doing my best paid off. Having everything pretty much taken away from me, I knew that if it happened to me again, I didn’t want to leave anything on the table. I want to live everyday like it’s my last.”
2020 and a great senior year getting ready to hit the home stretch and here comes COVID-19.
“I wish it was a new experience for me having something taken away from me but it’s not,” said Noah. "I was kind of prepared for it, but it hurts having prom taken away from me. Being able to walk across the stage (for graduation). But, I’m just thankful.
Been down this road before, time to make some more lemonade.
No school because of the pandemic means more time with the family and that is very important to Noah as next fall, he plans to go to UNC Chapel Hill to major in sports journalism just like his father. Even though it won’t be the traditional way to receive his diploma, Noah is looking forward to Concord High’s drive-in, drive-thru graduation at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
And as he gets ready for the next chapter in his life, Noah has some advice for student-athletes struggling with the idea that they may not have an upcoming high school season or an academic year for that matter. If you do, make the most of it.
“When you get that senior year and you are lucky enough to go back to school physically, take everyday like it might be the last because cause with this COVID-19 situation, you never know when it could pop back up.”
Noah serving the lemonade he has made through life’s difficult journey.