Wednesday, June 4, 2003

'You never know what can happen'

Newport valedictorian beat cancer to walk again

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

NEWPORT - Cassidy Hamilton beat cancer and then set her sights on graduating at the top of her class.

Cassidy Hamilton
"It's like carpe diem - seize the day," Hamilton said. "You never know what can happen. That's what motivated me to be first. I knew I could do it and decided I wasn't going to give in."

Today, the 18-year-old valedictorian of the Class of 2003 at Newport High School is cancer-free and preparing for college at the University of Kentucky.

"She is a very, very strong person," said Dr. Alvin Crawford, the orthopedic surgeon at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center who operated on the rare bone cancer in Hamilton's right leg in 1999 when she was 14.

"To reveal this to a child at such a young age is very traumatic," he said. "Some take it as the end of the world. Some, like Cassidy, looked at it as an obstacle."

There were three surgeries in three months, two years on crutches and a prosthetic brace that was just removed in September. She's learned to walk again, despite having two plates and 18 screws in her leg.

With the support of her parents, Gary and Sandra, friends and teachers, Hamilton overcame the physical and mental setbacks dealt to her.

She was involved in numerous extracurricular activities in high school, including student council, Key Club, National Honor Society, cheerleading and Distributive Education Club of America, a national club of marketing students.

Her college scholarships include one from the American Cancer Society. She will major in international business at UK with a focus on advertising and marketing.

"I was on a subway in Chicago once and saw a guy on his cell phone. He got another call, clicked over and started speaking in another language," Hamilton said. "I said, 'That's going to be me one day.' "


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