ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – 16-year old Taylor Helland knows about fighting. The Martin High School student has gone through surgery and a dozen rounds of chemotherapy to fight a rare, deadly form of colon cancer. But the aggressive cancer still has not gone away.
“About six months ago we found out it had come back,” Taylor said. “So this year I have been doing chemo again, and we’re just trying to hopefully shrink the tumors enough where they can remove them and it goes away.”
Taylor — or Tay as her friends called her — plays with the Martin High School Band. Just before their showdown with cross-town rivals Arlington High School, news of her fight with cancer had made it across enemy lines to the Arlington High School Band.
“That’s our arch rival,” said Arlington High School band president Coleman Enger. “Why would we help out our arch rivals? But the thing is it gives us an opportunity to show — it’s another band kid. That’s our brothers and sisters.”
Arlington High’s band dedicated its performance during the big game to Tay. They took a collection in the crowd to help her family. And they made Tay an honorary Arlington High band member and hung her picture in their band hall.
“The fact they made me an honorary member of their band is really special,” Taylor said. “Because they’re are supposed to be our rivals! They’ve been acting like I’m part of their band and part of their family over there.”
“You know, honestly I think a lot of us went into that game not focusing on who won and who lost,” said Arlington High band member Madeline McPhee. “We were focusing on Taylor.”
“We’re going through such a hard time right now dealing with cancer, dealing with a life-threatening illness,” said Taylor’s mother, Julia Helland. “To have that love and support? It really helps.”
“It just makes me feel special and like I can do anything,” Taylor said.
During a recent visit to Arlington High School for the story, a dozen band members wanted to send Taylor a message through the TV camera. Forming hearts with their hands, the group said in unison, “We’re here for you Tay!”
“We’ll always be competing with them, ” Taylor laughed. “But hopefully we can be friendly now and be a big family.”
Click here to find out more about Taylor’s story.
To help with her medical expenses, her family is accepting donations at any local Chase Bank branch.
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