The last time I wrote about former York Catholic girls' basketball standout Amanda Weaver was roughly a year ago.
She had graciously allowed me an open door into her life to detail a long fight in overcoming colorectal cancer.
The story ended with Weaver looking forward to starting a new life. The whole experience of chemotherapy and surgeries caused Weaver to change her mind on a future career, foregoing physical therapy to instead become a nurse practitioner, the same position as those who took care of her at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Last September, there were still two months of oxygen therapy ahead for Weaver, where she had to breathe pure oxygen in a pressurized room for two hours a day, five days a week, to heal the internal scarring left behind by chemo radiation. Otherwise, Weaver was healthy.
Weaver and I have continued to stay in touch since then, her bubbly and positive attitude always contagiously coming across on the phone whenever we chatted once every few months. Still, it's been tough over the last year to hear of a few more health setbacks Weaver has dealt with, interrupting her goal of just wanting to return to school and begin a nursing program. Which is why the latest news is all the more encouraging.
Next week, Weaver will be leaving her parents' West Manchester home to move into an apartment on the East Baltimore campus at Johns Hopkins University, where she'll finally begin classes Sept. 2 in the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. It'll be her first time back in a classroom since May 2012, when she completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Hartford (Conn.), where she also saw 71 games of action (12 starts) over a four-year career on the women's basketball team.
Surely, she has to be nervous about returning to a classroom after two years away.
"Not really because I'm such a person who likes structure," Weaver said by phone last week. "Through being in college and having school and basketball I was always busy. I got diagnosed (with cancer) and everything stopped. The past couple months I've been anxious to get going."
Next chapter: Weaver is a bit reluctant to share the present happenings of her life. Not because she wants to be left alone, though. Rather, she doesn't want to come off as selfish by having another story focus on her.
"I don't know. Part of me just feels guilty that I've gotten so much attention because I know so many other people who have hardships in their lives who don't often beat them," she said.
Weaver has always been very thankful to those who have supported her, especially the many people who donated money to the Weaver family in recent years to help offset her medical costs. She appreciates the people who tell her how much of an inspiration she's been. Because she is inspiring, whether it be coming back from injuries to help York Catholic win state titles or Hartford reach the NCAA Division I Tournament, or staying positive no matter how many obstacles she's faced in beating cancer and then trying to return to full health.
But now Weaver is ready for the next chapter. Instead of being known as the girl who beat cancer, she wants to be known as the girl who beat cancer and then made the most of the life she's been granted. Starting classes toward an actual career is the first step in this goal.
"That's exactly where my mindset is," she said.
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.