SNOHOMISH — Hometown girl Emma Lande, 18, gives a lot to her school, and now the Snohomish High School community is giving back to her as she fights Hodgkins lymphoma.
Question: Someone here called you “a renaissance lady.” It sounds like you’re involved in quite a bit.
Answer: I am. Just about anything you can think of in high school, I’ve probably been a part of it. I was on varsity softball for three years — this would have been my fourth year. I’m currently the cheer captain; I’ve been on the cheer team for two years. I’m playing Bertha in the high school musical. And I’m involved in ASB and leadership and all those types of things. I like being involved.
I’m the third generation to come through Snohomish High School. Being part of Snohomish is a big deal to me. The community is like family. So I like to be involved in the school and the community in as many ways as I can.
Q: Like family?
A: Yes. Especially during this time, you see the community’s closeness and support really come out during the tough times.
Q: Talk about those tough times.
A: I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkins lymphoma on Jan. 12. And honestly, my life just kind of came to a standstill. Cheerleading stopped. I couldn’t go to games anymore because of doctor’s appointments. I would be a senior on the varsity softball team but with treatment, that’s just not a possibility. So it really is life-altering.
I would say the hardest thing is there are things you want to do and people you want to go see, but your body just doesn’t allow you. I’ve always been huge into school. Grades always came first. And I’m lucky to go to school a week out of a month.
Those daily, normal things that we take for granted — like going up stairs or going to get a glass of juice — is a lot harder than it used to be. It gives me more appreciation for when my strength comes back and the things that I had before and hopefully when I’m in remission I’ll have again.
Q: Where are you at with treatment?
A: I’m at the halfway point. I have four rounds of chemo. I am about to start my third round on Saturday (March 24).
Q: You’ve had to cut back, but you’re still involved.
A: My biggest participation right now is in the musical. I try to go to as many rehearsals as possible. But when I can’t I have a fabulous understudy who fills in for me.
The musical is “Pippin.” It’s like a circus show about a boy who’s trying to find his life fulfillment. … I am Pippin’s provocative grandma, who suggests that Pippin does some interesting things for life fulfillment. And Bertha is not happy, but Emma Lande is personally happy that he does not stick with her suggestions.
It’s fun because my little brother is in it, too (sophomore Jacob Lande). He plays my great-great grandson.
Q: How did you get into theater?
A: So, this is going back a bit. But my sophomore year I committed to Western Washington University to play softball. And this fall, I got my sixth concussion, and the doctors were like “no collegiate softball. We are cutting you off.” My brother was like, “OK, you need a new hobby.” And he had done theatre for years. He was like “just try out.”
So I tried out at Ludus Performing Arts, and we did “Peter Pan” and I ended up getting cast as Wendy Darling … I was hooked.
Q: You’ve been a 4.0 student. So you’re able to finish high school on time with just three classes. What are they?
A: I’m taking “Government and Current Issues,” “Monsters and Literature”—
Q: Wait, did I hear that right?
A: “Monsters and Literature.” We read things like “Frankenstein” and “Beowulf.” It’s fun. And then I’m in ASB and leadership.
Q: And what are your post-high school plans at this point?
A: It’s a little bit up in the air. Because of the concussions, I actually want to go into neuroscience and study pre-med. So I am planning on attending Washington State University in the fall. That’s my hope, as long as my treatment goes as planned.
Q: Was it hard to give up the Western softball experience?
A: Besides cancer, it was in second place of the hardest thing I ever had to do. Softball was my first love. It was my passion. So for that to get taken away, and for me to know that my time was up with my first love, it was devastating. But in a way, it almost kind of prepared me for what I have to go through now. It made me stronger. Looking back, maybe it was the step that was needed to help prepare me for my current treatment.
Q: You seem to maintain such a positive attitude.
A: That’s my goal. There are some days that are harder than others. But I’m going to have to go through this battle no matter what. If you can make the most out of it and try to continue your life as best as possible, you’re going to be a happier person, you’re going to get out of this better.
Q: One question I typically ask is what it’s like to be at this stage of life, looking ahead to graduation, and I wonder how you would answer that question.
A: There’s some things that used to just be a given that you take for granted and I have a lot more appreciation for. So when my future was questionable, having these monumental moments happening are just a little bigger.
I was 17 when I was diagnosed. So when I turned 18, that was a big deal — I made it to my 18th birthday. Then, knowing that graduation is coming up, getting to that point and knowing I made it through — that’s another big moment that my family is going to cherish.
I feel like for me, not only is it the same excitement and nerves that people feel with the future coming. But with mine being so uncertain sometimes, these moments are just, like, extra grand.
How to help
Emma Lande’s father is Everett Fire Capt. Mike Lande, who led Team Emma at this year’s Scott Firefighter Stairclimb to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You can donate in Lande’s honor through the end of March at https://tinyurl.com/StairsLande.