HHS Cancer Survivors Ready for Game Time!

HHS Cancer Survivors Ready for Game Time!
Posted on 05/09/2018
cancer trio

Grayson Lineberger, Ayla Thompson, and Virginia Tanner all grew up together attending Hickory Public Schools. They are all products of Jenkins Elementary and Northview Middle School, and now all three attend Hickory High.


This teen trio never realized they would have so much in common. Perhaps not what young teens desire to have in common—but they recognize the value of their journeys. Each is a cancer survivor.


And now, Grayson, Ayla, and Virginia are hoping that the community will come out to support a special night focusing on cancer survivors at the Hickory Crawdads Stadium this Friday, May 11, 2018, beginning at 7:00 PM. The gates open at 6 PM and there will be special recognition of Hickory High families affected by cancer.


Tickets are $9 per person which may be purchased at the Crawdad gates. But prior to Friday night, the community is encouraged to pick up a ticket “voucher” at the main office of Hickory High (1234 3rd St NE, Hickory, NC 28601) or the administrative office of Hickory Public Schools (432 4th Ave., SW, Hickory, 28602).  The vouchers will not be available at the ticket gate so vouchers must be picked up in advance. The vouchers will assure $3 of each $9 ticket goes directly to pediatric cancer research.


During the special “strike out cancer”  Hickory Crawdads baseball event, there will also be special performances by Hickory High’s drumline, choral ensemble, JROTC, cheerleaders and baseball team. Additionally, everyone will have the opportunity to participate in the “Beat Cancer Car Smash.”


Lineberger, 15, and a sophomore at Hickory High,  fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma just last year—during his freshman year of high school. “I feel really good now—and I am especially relieved that this battle is behind me. I’m cancer free!” he said.


The son of Steve and Roxanne Lineberger, Grayson says the best part of his journey is that he is able to actively continue with a normal life. He fought the horrific disease with chemotherapy treatments, and like the other two survivors, Grayson lost all of his hair. But today, he has an entirely new head of hair—with bountiful curls versus the previous straight locks. All three survivors laughed about the changes in their hair-- sharing the new curls are known as “chemo curls” by those who have undergone treatments and experienced a change in re-growth texture.


Thompson, 16, and a junior at Hickory High, battled her cancer in the seventh grade. She also faced the hardship of chemotherapy treatments while she fought lymphoma.  Today, Thompson is cancer free.  Sharing a bright smile, she notes that her hair is now a different color, a dark black instead of the lighter brown. “And I have lots of new curls,” she said.


The daughter of Angela Thompson and Angelo Hetter, Ayla says she is grateful for the cancer. “I know that sounds odd, and yes, it was a bad thing, but I can now accept myself for who I am. I learned a lot about my body and became more confident. This is who I am—and I have grown in so many ways,” she said.


Tanner, 18, and a senior at Hickory High, has been in remission for two weeks. She has been fighting osteosarcoma (of the left femur) during her entire senior year.  Tanner not only went through the chemotherapy treatments, but she also had a knee replacement and nine inches of a femur replaced. “I am thankful for my cancer journey as I now have a passion to serve other kids who are suffering,” she said. Tanner says she is anxious to see if her hair will return to the same texture or perhaps bring a new surprise.


The daughter of Chris and Rebecca Tanner, Virginia will attend UNC-Chapel Hill this fall with plans of studying pre-med and eventually working in pediatric oncology.


The three Hickory High survivors spent some moments sharing their similar experiences and the seriousness of their connection. But then they quickly became kids again as they discussed their “Make a Wish” ideas, a wish granted by the Foundation that marks a turning point in the fight against their illnesses. Their wishes ran the full gamut—from jet skis to a vacation in the Bahamas. All three students flashed sparkling smiles and glistening eyes as they laughed together and shared with excitement all the wonderful blessings in their lives. All three students are cancer free—the greatest blessing of all.


There are additional members of the Hickory Public Schools team who have battled cancer—and continue to battle cancer. Teachers, staff, administrators, parents, siblings – the disease doesn’t discriminate and apparently knows no boundaries. But these three cancer survivors, Grayson, Ayla, and Virginia, are a reminder of hope and the value of life. They are counting on the community to come to this Friday’s game to support a great cause. Be sure to pick up your vouchers this week at either Hickory High or the HPS administrative building during school hours.


For more information, contact Jeanne Turner-Simms at Hickory High: 828-322-5860

(Left to right) Ayla, Virginia, Grayson
(photo/post by Beverly Snowden, HPS director of communications)

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