Hi there! I am Hannah Markel, marketing intern here at Eon. June is Cancer Survivor Month, and we are honoring survivors everywhere by highlighting the stories of cancer warriors. I am so excited to share the story of my role model, hero, and older sister, Halle Markel.
It’s hard for me to describe Halle without using clichés and metaphors that people normally use to describe their role models; Brave, strong, and resilient are the first ones to come to mind when thinking about my sister and not-coincidentally the same ones little kids use to describe a superhero. Though she has all the qualities of a modern-day Wonder Woman, it was her wit, confidence, and spirit of adventure that made me sure she had what it takes to save the world. It wasn’t until her cancer diagnosis during her sophomore year of college did I truly realize the sheer power of my sister.
My sister left our hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, for Atlanta, Georgia, in the summer of 2014 to attend Emory University. Halle’s transition to college was seamless. She was a standout runner on the Emory University cross country team and led her team to the national championship meet in her first season. She began studying environmental science and economics, and found a tight group of friends.
I remember visiting Halle for my spring break during her freshman year. I admired how perfectly she juggled the academic, athletic, and social demands of college so effortlessly. Everyone on her dorm floor knew and loved her. Her cross country coach talked about her grit and toughness. Halle returned to campus the next fall excited to pick up where she left off.
During the start of her sophomore cross country season, Halle found herself sleeping more and having less energy. “I just started feeling kind of run-down”. After undergoing testing at Emory Hospital, Halle was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had just turned 21.
Halle recalls, “It was a pretty crazy, weird time for all of that to be happening. Since I was over 18, I had to be the one to tell my parents.” Despite our family being in Ohio, Halle decided to stay at Emory to keep her life as normal as possible. Although she could no longer compete on the cross country and track team, Halle continued a rigorous course load while incorporating cancer into her college routine. “The hospital was right on campus, so I would almost just treat going to the doctor as my next class.”
Not only did Halle have to deal with the physical and emotional stress of cancer, but she also had to manage the stress of college. “You’re stressed out because you have a final, but you don’t actually care that much because you just had a doctor’s appointment that was way more important.”
Halle says she would have gone home to get treatment if it wasn’t for the incredible advocacy and effectiveness of her nurse navigators. “I had an awesome team. It was kind of a weird case, I had all these different endocrine issues going on and they just wanted to take care of me. They were exhausting a lot of brainpower and making sure that they were being creative and innovative. Honestly, the majority of it was how transparent they were with me the whole time. That was huge.”