While Hannah St. Jean, Hannah Runge and the rest of the Franklin Pierce Women’s Volleyball Team fight for dominance on the court, one of their fans fights a different kind of battle.
Local teen and aspiring volleyball player Samantha (Sammy) Dubois has been waging that different battle. Sammy was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a form of cancer in the blood and bone marrow, just prior to her junior year in high school and has been fighting ever since.
When Christine Grenache, a friend of the Dubois family, approached the women’s volleyball team a year ago and asked if they would like to sign a card for Sammy, Hannah Runge asked, “Why don't we just visit her instead? I think that would mean a lot more.” Christine agreed; “She would love that! It will be a total surprise. She won’t have any idea!”
At that point in her treatment, the Jaffrey NH resident was living at Children’s Hospital in Boston, MA. After extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, destroyed Sammy’s bone marrow, she received a stem cell transplant from a donor in Poland. Her body was in the long process of producing non-cancerous and rebuilding her immune system.
Balancing classes, athletics and part time jobs can certainly be time consuming, nonetheless, both Hannah’s and almost all of the team packed into two cars for the long trip from campus to Children’s Hospital. Sammy’s hospital room was full of gifts, posters, and pictures like any other teenager. When the team entered, Sammy’s mother handed all them an orange wristband with #SammyStrong on it, and orange represents the fight against leukemia.
The two Hanna’s and Sammy became fast friends; “We became friends with her in the hospital.” “We were like, ‘Hi, we're the Franklin Pierce volleyball team and we’re here to support you’.” Hanna St. Jean added that “after the visit, we all went to lunch and couldn't stop talking about her smile and how positive she was, and how much it meant, and how much more great it made our day to meet her and spend that hour with her. It was a really meaningful experience for all of us.” Their friendship and contact continued; “She was so cool, we started to follow her on social media, Snapchat, Instagram and stayed in touch with her.”
Their relationship with Sammy blossomed; “She lives only five minutes from campus so as soon as we heard that she was home from the hospital, we and a couple other volleyball players went to her house to go visit her while she was in remission.” “It was really cool and we got to be friends with her and with her parents too.” As for the rest of the team, “We all just love her and think she's adorable. We all kind of adopted her; she would watch all of our games on line while she was in the hospital or at home.” “We loved having someone to support and she supported us back, that is so awesome!”
Sammy is back home and doing very well and no longer has restrictions on what she can eat or where she can go. She went back in high school for her Junior Year this past September and while not ready physically to go back to sports, she is looking forward to getting back on the court and field!
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