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Lifelong Learning

Moorhead High Senior Fights Cancer Battle With His Team

May 6, 2020

Scott Verkuilen is a Moorhead High School Senior, a middle child between two sisters and the owner of a lovable golden doodle known for her impressive tricks. He has a calm presence along with an attitude that makes you feel like anything is possible. He is cancer-free after a grueling battle throughout his Senior year of high school.

“One of the most important things you can do for people is just remind them that you are there. A welcoming card, a text, a phone call means more to people who are suffering so much, than anybody really realizes,” Scott says. 

He understands the value of his team. Nothing can prepare you for the treatment and recovery process of cancer, and nobody can ever understand what it’s truly like, unless you were to go through it yourself. But what can be understood is the importance of people. A team that supports you through the best of times and the worst of times. For Scott, his team consisted of so many that were there for him, when he needed them most. 

Diagnosed with cancer one month before the start of his Senior year of high school, he immediately had surgery and started chemotherapy not long after that. Because of a lack of typical symptoms, it took 17 doctor’s visits to diagnose. Scott was glad to finally have answers. “Honestly when it came out, it was almost kind of a relief. Obviously it’s not the answer you want, but it was good to finally put an end to it and have a way to fix it.”

“Throughout my treatments, there was almost always someone with me,” Scott says. “I was old enough to do it by myself, but there was never a possibility that was going to happen. I was carried through the experience on the backs of others like my coaches, teammates, committed friends and family.”

Make A Wish

After a second round of chemo, he got really sick and had to stay a few days at the hospital to recover. While there, he was visited by volunteers from Make A Wish. 

Scott could choose anything he wanted. His wish? New equipment for the weightlifting room at Moorhead High School. “I was helped so much through my treatment and my journey, that I wanted something for other people. I wanted to leave my mark on high school in a way that I felt was substantial,” he says. 

Immediately after finding out Scott’s wish, Moorhead High School Weightlifting Coach Cory Herrmann posted his story through a national network. Within an hour, people were coming out of the woodwork to help. Cory wanted to make this as impactful and big as possible. “I was shocked when I found out his wish. What high school kid thinks this way? It was awesome. It brought a tear to my eye to be honest with you,” Cory says.

Initially wanting some new equipment for the weight room, Scott is ecstatic with what the project has become. “I had no idea how big it would be. A complete refurbishment of the weight room, it’s beyond what I expected,” he says. 

The Moorhead High School weight room will be rebuilt with custom weights inscribed with powerful sayings inspired by his journey, like “Always Fight” and “Never Alone”.

Taking It One Day At A Time

A future Cobber, Scott is excited to be in the pre-med track and plans to double major in biology and chemistry at Concordia College. 

“Through this process, I learned to slow down and take it one day at a time instead of looking so far ahead,” Scott says. “You just have to go through life like anyone else. It’s not different for me than anyone else. Keep going like it never happened, ignore the fact that this huge terrible thing happened and you just move forward and be yourself.”

Across the wall of the new weight room are the words,”While you may be doing the brunt of the work to fight this, you will never be doing it alone.” This is really the motto of not only Scott, but of the Spud weightlifting team and Spud athletes and the entire Spud community. And no matter what future students are “lifting” they will remember that you are never alone when you are a Spud.


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