Reporting Joel Thomas
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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – 52-year old Cindy Stewart is passionate about her job as a counselor at Arlington High School. She has incurable breast cancer. Yet she battles through the pain and drain of her illness and chemo and the radiation therapies to be at school almost every day she physically can.
“Its not going to go away,” Stewart said of her cancer. “But they can keep it at bay. Its hard. But you just fight and do what you can. You don’t want to go anywhere.”
And the student body — her Arlington Colt family — noticed. “Hey guys!” a student yelled over the din of the lunchroom crowd Wednesday. “Shirts are ten dollars!”
They students dubbed “Relentless Week” in Stewart’s honor. Students crowd around a handful of tables with money in their hands waiting to buy merchandise to help raise money to aid Stewart with her overwhelming medical bills.
“We’ve got salsa, t-shirts, bracelets, ribbons,” said Student Council President Reese Lyle who came up with the idea for Relentless Week. “Its such an inspiration to see her walking down the hallways. And we want to do this to recognize her, keep her in the fight and let her know we’re all behind her and care for her. We set a goal of five thousand dollars for the whole week. We actually went over that goal yesterday on the second day.”
And they surprised Stewart by papering the school in pink. There are pink ‘ribbon’ insignias, signs urging Stewart to keep up the fight, and one sign with black lettering on a pink background that reads: “We are only as strong as we are united.”
“They care and they’re praying and they say it,” Stewart said. “There’s words that they use. And its sincere. And its probably touched their lives too.”
One student stopped by Stewart’s office to tell her his friend’s mother died of cancer. “I’m glad to see someone fighting as hard as you are,” he told Stewart.
“These kids have revved me up again,” Stewart said. “They’ve given me new fire.”
“If she ever doubted that she has had an influence or impact on anybody she need doubt no more,” said Jennifer Nguyen, the faculty member who gave the okay for the students to go ahead with Relentless Week. “She has truly touched these kids and instilled in them so many values that they need in life.”
“I just feel very honored,” Stewart said with tears in her eyes. “Very honored and overwhelmed. Very emotional.”
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