By Joelle Fisher
Being on a team isn’t just about helping each other win games. The swim and dive team has demonstrated this first hand with its support for fellow teammate, Elizabeth Flatoff (’20), who is in the process of recovering from the removal of three tumors.
“Teammates become your family so quickly, and it is so important to be kind and uplift them,” said Sydney Louis Ferdinand (‘20).
“These are the people you spend almost every minute of every day with; they are the ones who know you the best.
“They allow you to joke, laugh, say what’s on your mind and be crazy, so when something like this gets thrown at you it’s important to have those around you who accept you for who you are,” said Flatoff.
Flatoff, known by her teammates as Libby, suffered from a seizure over Thanksgiving break after a few months of dizzy spells that she attributed to stress. When she consulted doctors, she had an MRI in which they found two tumors inside of her brain and another in her liver.
Flatoff has been staying positive throughout this entire process. She and her friends jokingly named her two brain tumors Mary Ann and Gerald after the white pine trees they received at freshmen year’s traditions dinner that died shortly after. They named the tumor in her liver Daniel.
“Watching Libbey go through such a challenging experience was heartbreaking for our team,” said Nick Fuller (‘18).
“To see our team come together in support for her is inspiring and really shows how much of an impact your team can have on your life.”
Because of the required surgery, Flatoff had planned on shaving her head before the tumors were removed. Following in suit, three of her close friends, Molly McFadden (‘20), Sydney Louis Ferdinand (‘20), and Taylor Disantis (‘18), also shaved their heads to show their support.
“Libby was planning on shaving her head and her roommate, Molly, decided to join her to show support,” said Ferdinand.
“After that, it was just a domino effect and more and more of her friends decided to as well because we knew that if we were in her position that she would do the same for us.”
On March 9, Flatoff went into surgery to have her tumors removed and the procedure was successful. She will be taking a month off of school to recover before returning in April.
“Surround yourself with people and places that make you feel like you are not restricted,” said Flatoff.
“Don’t stick around with people who make you feel like you can’t do things. Find the people who laugh as you decide to jump through mud puddles for no reason like my roommate Molly, the MUN team, my sorority and the swim and dive team.”
At the team’s banquet, Flatoff was granted the perseverance award for her positivity throughout everything. Despite not being able to continue competing in the rest of the swim season, she still showed her support at practices and meets regularly.
“If you’re more positive, people tend to be more comfortable and then don’t stare at you like you might shatter,” said Flatoff.
“That being said, positivity is not expected or required to go through something like this: You need to make sure you take care of yourself first.”
Teammates and friends plan to visit and keep up with Flatoff during her time off.
“I am truly grateful for all of my friends who supported me through this journey, as well as my coaches and teammates,” said Flatoff.
“I definitely could not have done this without any of them: everyone made an impact on me and helped me, no matter how small they thought their contribution was, it was still very important to me.”
After school finishes, Flatoff plans to travel to India for the summer through the P-Global foundation.