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Lewiston High students learn to live with cancer

Lewiston High School students Drew Thomasson, left, Mikray Moser, center, and Samuel Schacher sit down to talk about coping with cancer while in school in Lewiston. (Associated Press)
Lewiston High School students Drew Thomasson, left, Mikray Moser, center, and Samuel Schacher sit down to talk about coping with cancer while in school in Lewiston. (Associated Press)

LEWISTON – Lewiston High School sophomore Drew Thomasson, junior Samuel Schacher and senior Mikray Moser share a bond they hope no one else will get to experience.

They each are dealing with a different form of cancer and the challenges their illnesses and treatments present.

“They’re fighters,” school librarian Mary Ann Funk said. “I really am impressed with how the students and staff have rallied around the boys.”

Sitting together at a table in the school library, the three described experiencing high school while fighting cancer.

Moser, 18, learned in October he has a form of kidney cancer so rare it occurs in only about 40 people a year worldwide. It was discovered after a pain in his shoulder.

Moser enjoys sports, but his illness has put that on hold.

For now, his schedule is dominated by weekly trips with his parents to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for an IV chemotherapy infusion.

“We traded in one of our trucks for a car and that helped a lot,” Moser said, explaining the car makes for a smoother, easier ride.

He said he’s grateful to his school for working with him to keep up on his studies, and to his friends for standing beside him on his journey. One of his closest friends even traveled with him to Seattle to see what getting the infusion is like.

Moser said he was especially humbled by the attention he received before a benefit event Saturday organized by his father’s co-workers at Potlatch No. 1 Federal Credit Union. “I’ve never really been that kind of kid, the spotlight kid,” Moser said.

Schacher, 16, the son of Bonnie and Joe Schacher, misses being in a different kind of spotlight.

Schacher is active in LHS drama, participating in productions this school year as a lighting technician and assistant director because his illness prevented him from acting.

Schacher’s diagnosis came in July: anaplastic astrocytoma grade 3 – a brain tumor.

The hockey puck-size tumor was discovered after Schacher began having “episodes” at the end of last school year that turned out to be seizures.

He had surgery to remove much of the tumor and now receives chemotherapy treatments in Spokane every two weeks.

Thomasson, 16, lives with an inherited condition called neurofibromatosis that can cause tumors and other health problems.

When he was 8 years old, Thomasson was diagnosed with brain tumors that have affected his eyesight. He navigates the school with the help of a folding cane.

His tumors are stable but he recently had back surgery to help correct scoliosis that results from his condition.

“I grew 3 inches after the surgery,” he said. “I am now the tallest in the family.”

As he’s dealt with his health issues over the years, Thomasson has learned humor is one way to cope.

“I’m normally the joke-teller at the hospital,” he said.

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