Brody’s “Through This Together” Backs Cancer Patients

Teacher holding locks of hair.

Brody behavior coach Robbie Eklov, who lost his father to cancer in 2008, holds his just-cut hair that will be donated to Locks of Love.

They really cover a lot of extra bases at Brody Middle School.

Recently we reported on an event designed to spur interest in the school’s afterschool enrichment program, Brody After Hours. Then last week it was time for the 3rd annual C3 Fair where students are exposed to more than 40 alternatives to consider as they plan their college, career and community service futures.

Last, but absolutely not least, Wednesday marked Brody’s 4th annual Through This Together assembly, a lesson in the importance and power of support groups.

Through This Together began when Brody Office Manager Sherri Oliver and Vice Principal Jolynn May discovered something they had in common – cancer.

Sherri’s husband and Jolynn’s sister-in-law were both facing grim prognoses.

Traci has since succumbed to the dread disease but Ed is still beating the odds – and the good vibrations created by this event are surely among the reasons why.

May told the students and visitors packed into the gym this morning that Through This Together has three goals: awareness, support and celebration.

“It’s an ugly disease that teaches beautiful lessons,” she said. May emphasized three of those, too: strength, perseverance and attitude.

The format doesn’t vary from year to year but names and faces change to reflect the ebb and flow of diagnoses and remissions. Sherri and Jolynn are the mainstays but newcomers are always stepping up to speak. This year they included Brody’s nurse Emily Keyte, who shared the inspiration she’s drawn from two aunts afflicted with cancer, Behavior Coach Robbie Eklov, who lost his father to cancer in 2008, and Alex Hanna, the principal at Merrill Middle School.

Hanna revealed that his wife is a 19-year survivor of breast cancer, but that’s not the reason that led most directly to his participation in Through This Together. After all, he was supposed to be on the job at Brody’s twin sister school (Merrill and Brody share nearly identical floor plans).

“But I wanted to be here this morning,” Hanna said, “and I’ll tell you why.”

Last fall he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Shortly thereafter he ran into Sherri and Ed Oliver at the John Stoddard Cancer Center where both he and Ed were receiving treatments.

“It really is a small world,” said Sherri Oliver. “We’re so glad that Mr. Hannah could accept our invitation to join us today.”

Then it was time for the celebration and support that May had spoken of to take over as volunteer stylists from La’James College cut the tresses of volunteers who were donating their hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children who suffer medical hair loss.

The shearing was set to an upbeat soundtrack that included the Through This Together theme song, composed by Ed and Sherri Oliver’s son Brandon who teaches music at McCombs Middle School. His brother, Josh Griffith, is a Vice Principal at Callanan Middle School, and he was on hand too, to get his head shaved in a spirit of solidarity.

At some point everyone’s life is touched by cancer. Brody, though, which happens to be in the midst of its 50th anniversary year, has never been healthier.

Photos of Brody’s “Through This Together” Event

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