JARRETTSVILLE, Md. -- Strength and a foundation of faith is helping one local kindergarten teacher fight for her life this holiday season as she battles against sarcoma, a type of cancer.
Sydney Lippa has taught at Carroll Manor for seven years, but this year cancer took her out of the classroom as she focused on her health.
After three weeks with her students, Lippa began intensive chemotherapy treatments in September.
The first round of treatment did not work. Though she is going through a second round now, Lippa is looking forward to Christmas.
"Right now I am feeling hopeful," Lipa said. "I'm excited for Christmas, it's my favorite holiday and I know the reason for the season."
Doctors told Sydney she has sarcoma over the summer.
"It is a rare form of cancer and not much research has been done, but I know this is soft tissue sarcoma so it's a cancer in my muscle," she explained.
A GoFundMe was started to help the 28-year-old pay medical costs. She is engaged to be married next July.
After renovating a home together, Sydney's fiancé Griffin Magness asked her to marry him in March. The two were so excited to start planning, not knowing this diagnosis would come a few months later.
Right now Lippa is trying to just take the days as they come. Sometimes she has moments of doubt.
"What if the cancer spreads," she asks. "My thoughts go from shallow things to deep things, but my biggest thing is prayer."
She now lifts her eyes to Heaven and asks for strength, hoping to inspire others using a positive attitude, prayer and perseverance.
Lippa now teaches her students about the meaning of perseverance.
"For this lesson, I wrap up a box in a ton of different papers and I start to unwrap it and then I pretend I'm too tired and I throw a pretend fit," Lippa says. "I'll say 'ugh I can't do this anymore!' and they're like 'don't give up, keep going!' because they want to know what's in the box. So in the year we go from there and I say 'remember when you told me not to give up, you cant give up on this school work.'"
Regardless of her diagnosis, Lippa plans for the future. Lippa does not want to be a girl with cancer; she wants to be who she has always been.
She has dreamed her whole life of being a bride.
"Sometimes it feels a little silly to be planning a wedding when I have something so huge happening, something devastating happening," Lippa says. "I don't know what my life will look like in July, that's when my wedding is, but like I said before, I won't let cancer take this from me. I want to get married. I love Griff and I want to marry him and that's going to happen."
"I know the woman I am marrying and I know her devotion to God, her perseverance," Lippa's fiancé said. "She will get through this and it's been amazing to see her strength."
Sydney will be done with this round of chemo in early 2022. Then she'll undergo more scans to see if the cancerous tumor has shrunk. From there, her family will have to make a decision about what to do next.
As for her job, Sydney is not sure she will be able to return to Carrol Manor.
The school can only hold her position for so long, and she can't predict exactly what will happen with her health. As of now, she is working with the school to see what the future holds for her teaching career.
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