A softball trio’s rally: Three inseparable Snohomish cousins find one struck ill
Doug Ramsay photo
From left, Grace Wales, 16, Emma Lande, 18, and Sami Reynolds, 18, gather for a photo prior to the Snohomish Panthers’ game against the Everett Seagulls in Everett on Wednesday, March 21.
SNOHOMISH — Three cousins who have shared the softball field for nearly a decade are facing their toughest opponent yet as one of them battles Hodgkin lymphoma.
Sami Reynolds, 18, and Grace Wales, 16, hold down the outfield for the Snohomish High School team while Emma Lande, 18, most recently played second base. But since a Jan. 12 diagnosis, Lande’s full-time job has been fighting cancer.
It was “bizarre how much her skin was itching, it was driving her nuts,” said mom Patti Lande. A trip to a cautious dermatologist led past the typical tests to a chest scan, which returned the diagnosis.
The immune system cancer most commonly affects teens and young adults. The American Cancer Society states the survival rate is 86 percent, but treatment is difficult: Emma requires four rounds of chemotherapy in 21-day cycles.
“It’s so hard on our entire family,” Reynolds said, calling it “a really frustrating turn of events.”
The three cousins have always been close. Emma’s mom Patti Lande was their first softball coach.
“She is a rare kid, not just her talent but her personality. I’ve never met a more upbeat person in my whole life and I’ve been coaching for 30 years,” said SHS softball coach Lou Kennedy. He said the daily question in the dugout is about Emma’s health.
Lande occasionally makes it to practices and games, but her immune system is compromised, so crowds have become unusually dangerous for her.
She arrived at the team’s first home game in good spirits, Kennedy said, but left with a fever and infection. That led to a six-day hospital stay, after an earlier ICU visit when she had a reaction to the chemotherapy drugs, Patti Lande said.
Throughout her ordeal, the community has stepped up to the plate with support of all kinds, from meals to massive demonstrations.
The SHS players sport “Team Emma” shirts, and Kennedy said he could
hardly hold back tears when the opposing Marysville-Pilchuck team showed up in “Emma’s Army” jerseys for a recent game. Emma’s Team signs have sported up since then at events and around town.
Lande’s dad, Everett Fire Captain Mike Lande, with 53 more firefighters, charged up 69 fights of stairs at the 27th annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb in March. The
Everett team’s effort raised more than $123,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
All the teams and the city too will have some cause for cheer after the latest update on Emma.
Patti Lande said on March 20 she received mid-treatment report that Emma’s tumors have all reduced in size by 70 to 90 percent, and her daughter has been labeled a fast responder.
“It’s the best news we could have gotten,” Patti Lande said. She said the family is full of gratitude and humility at the overwhelming show of support from the community.
Reynolds and Wales said eating is the athletes’ favorite leisure activity, followed by shopping and manicures. Wales plays soccer, too, and Emma Lande has done cheerleading and drama.
A recent highlight for her was acting earlier this year in Ludus Performing Arts’ “Peter Pan” as Wendy Darling while brother Jacob played brother John Darling.
The girls have stayed strong through sports: in body through practice and in spirit through the support of their teammates.
The cousins describe Emma as friends with absolutely everybody.
While Lande beats back cancer, her friends cherish low key moments with her.
“I never realized how we can take time for granted, but now even if you get to hang out with her for 30 minutes, and know she’s okay, the world is at peace,” Reynolds said.
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