Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2000

Brooke’s night to shine

14-year-old continues her fight against cancer

June 8, 2000

This year was a special year for Brooke O'Grady and her friends. The 14-year-old cancer fighter and her Relay for Life team rallied together, raising money and giving each other moral support.

About a month ago, O'Grady was forced to face the unpleasant reality that her time may be limited. Diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 1996, her doctor recently informed O'Grady she might have only six months to live. This may be the last relay she will attend.

When the news first hit that O'Grady had only six months to live, her mother, Judi, called friend and team member Ashley Moran, urging her to break the news to the rest of the team. But her mother, Sherry Moran, said Ashley found it too difficult so she took on the challenge to relay the news.

"I called for Ashley because she couldn't do it," Sherry Moran said.

Although active and optimistic throughout the relay, the thought was in the back of friends' minds that O'Grady's time may be limited.

"I don't think it's going to hit us until it does," said team member Jamie Smidt. "It's very hard."

At 4:15 a.m. O'Grady's team, "Cancer is unbearable," played cards, played catch with Koosh balls and took breaks for refreshments to keep awake during the all-night walk.

"Back and forth to the Kwik Shop for cappuccino," Smidt added.

For someone with cancer, O'Grady appears fine. She laughs. She smiles. She sits in her chair listening to the sounds of rockers Limp Bizkit in her CD player. She's even gotten in a little bit of dancing.

"She was the only one who would dance with me to Bob Seger," Sherry Moran said.

The night before the relay, O'Grady watched a stage performance of "Beauty and the Beast" in Kansas City. She stayed up until midnight and after some rest she was ready for the big event.

"She's been having a ball and I can't believe she's still awake," Sherry Moran said.

"I slept my 12 hours," O'Grady said.

Although some of the relay's team members were circling the track in the early morning hours, O'Grady was a little disappointed that the momentum died down from the relay's starting laps.

"Look at how many people are on the track. Everybody's falling asleep," she said.

But she remained determined to keep up the pace. As O'Grady's friends headed off to request a Britney Spears song from the DJ, Smidt was encouraged by her friend's strength and determination.

"I've never seen anybody who's so focused on life," Smidt said.

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