Mahelona has learned to live life to the fullest Accepting the Challenge
by Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
Sheridan Mahelona's biggest triumph in life is that she's still alive.
Her life is now typical of her peers, spending the summer as a member of the class of 2010 and looking forward to college in the fall.
Mahelona, who graduated from University High, has faced countless opponents in the pitching circle on the softball field and finished her career having won two state titles while playing for Pac-Five.
Off the field, she's overcome a bigger challenge.
Mahelona discovered she had lupus — an autoimmune disease that attacks vital organs — in the seventh grade. It flared up during the middle of her high school years and her condition makes her sensitive to sunlight. She was in the hospital for so long, some wondered if she'd come back.
"It flared up really bad in 10th grade," Mahelona said. "I had to do chemotherapy my junior year, my whole first semester.
"Right now, it's kind of getting into remission but not quite there yet."
Like other athletes, Mahelona's accomplishments are noticed on the field. But she's persevered through a lot in her short life, facing battle after battle that many her age should not have to encounter.
It was in her darkest time in the hospital during her junior year when Mahelona found an inspirational quote that changed her outlook on life.
God didn't give you anything you can't handle
"One day it was really rough and the quote came to me," said Mahelona, who read inspirational books in the hospital. "Everything seemed positive from that point."
Her teammates and classmates sent her cards and many visited her in the hospital, and prayed with her.
"It made me feel I needed to get better because I felt they needed me," Mahelona said.
Several weeks ago, the Division II championship game and her high school graduation were scheduled for the same time. She thought over the situation and decided to not let her team down. Her parents supported her.
Mahelona pitched Pac-Five to a 5-4 victory over Waimea. After the game, she joined her classmates for their Project Graduation activity — a trip to Maui.
An aspiring pharmacist, Mahelona will attend Creighton University. Her condition helped steer her toward that career goal, much like how it's altered her outlook on life.
"I try to stay positive with everything, especially when things get really hard. I try not to deal with any of the drama," Mahelona said. "When there's anything wrong in school, I didn't bother with it. It doesn't really matter. I only look at things that matter in life."