Cheerleader loses family members to cancer: 'You just have to keep going' - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cheerleader loses family members to cancer: 'You just have to keep going'

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Aly lost her father and her aunt to cancer Aly lost her father and her aunt to cancer
Aly's mother recently found out her blood cancer is in remission Aly's mother recently found out her blood cancer is in remission

SPOKANE, Wash. - The cheerleading squad at Shadle Park High School normally has 12 members. This year they have 13.

Few would venture to call 17-year-old Aly Barthole lucky, but cheer coaches at Shadle Park say they feel lucky to have Aly on their team.

"We call her lucky number 13," says Sarah Bunney, one of the coaches at Shadle Park. "She's bringing life experience to these girls and helping them to see outside their little high school cheerleading bubble."

Aly's dad passed away from cancer three years ago. Her mom was diagnosed with blood cancer shortly after that. Two weeks ago her grandpa died and then last week her aunt died of breast cancer.

"Overall, it could be worse," said Aly. "I just always think it could be worse."

Through it all, Aly has cheered.

Aly's coach says through it all Aly remains very positive and energetic

"I put myself around other people when I'm sad because I know that my friends are always really good at cheering me up," she said.

She was supposed to be captain of the team at Liberty High School, but mounting bills forced her family to move.

They found a new home near a new school just months before the start of Aly's senior year, but Aly missed tryouts for Shadle's team.

"Transferring your senior year is hard enough, let alone all the circumstances she has going on in her family," said Bunney who has coached Shadle cheerleading for the last 8 years with her Mom.

Coaches met the teenager and learned her story, then added her to the roster despite the fact tryouts were over.

"Aly has a very positive outlook on life," said Bunney. "Very energetic. Very positive. Very mature."

At just 17-years-old, she has already experienced more death than most kids her age, but she insists on focusing on life.

"I just always find a way to be happy, I always just tell myself this happened for a reason," Aly said. "Don't dwell on it because it's not going to get me anywhere dwelling on it. You just have to keep going. I don't know how else to put it."

- Anthony Gomes
KHQ Local News

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