St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School held a lemonade fundraiser over the summer in honor of fifth grade student Payton Shock, who is fighting cancer.

St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School held a lemonade fundraiser over the summer in honor of fifth grade student Payton Shock, who is fighting cancer.

Photo provided by St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School

Students rally around classmate with cancer

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 8, 2019

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — When students and staff at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic School learned that fifth grade student Payton Shock had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of cancer, they immediately began doing all they could to help Shock and her family emotionally.

The cancer was discovered this past July after doctors found a tumor in Shock’s back. She will undergo 32 chemotherapy treatments at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit over several months, and also will have radiation. The Shock family includes mom Heather Shock, dad Howard Shock and brother Blake Shock, a seventh grader at the school.

“It is a bone cancer. Tumors grow on or near the bones,” said Howard Shock. “She is progressing through the treatment. We take each day as it comes. Emotionally, she’s strong — as best as a 10-year-old can be. She has good days and bad days.”

Because of Payton Shock’s compromised immune system, she can’t attend school right now. She is home-schooled with help from her teachers and classmates. Students keep in touch through letters, phone calls and visits. Sometimes they even bring meals.

“The school has been a tremendous support for my daughter. We’re very grateful,” Howard Shock said. “This is the love of the community pouring out over us. There are a lot of good people in the community.”

Howard Shock said that anytime a family at St. Paul has difficulties, “The school has stepped up and supported them as well. The level of support is the same. Everyone has compassion.” The family’s faith is important as well.

During September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, St. Paul held several activities to honor Payton Shock and remember those living with cancer.    

At the school’s Meet & Greet Night, students made more than 200 get-well cards for pediatric cancer patients at local hospitals. Students, parents, faculty and clergy gathered after dismissal on the first day of school in early September to pray a living rosary for Payton.

On Sept. 26, St. Paul’s junior high leadership council sponsored a $1 jeans day with proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. A golf outing also was held at Chandler Park Golf Course in Detroit.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise $5,000, and over the summer, a group of students set up a lemonade stand, which brought in many generous donations.

Fourth grader Francesca Swikoski, her brother and seventh grader Vincent Swikoski, and fifth grader Rachel Farago were among the students who assisted with the lemonade fundraiser.

“I’m Payton’s friend. We’ve known each other for a while,” Francesca Swikoski said. “She’s, like, very kind. She’s always active. Me and my mom go visit her. At school, we do religion and we pray for her a lot.”

“She’s always happy. We can go visit her if she’s feeling well,” said Vincent Swikoski, who attends class with Blake Shock. “She’s always in high spirits. My mom and Payton’s mom work in the lunchroom.”

“I write a note to her every day. She still can’t hug. In class we pray for her before lunch,” Farago said.

“When we found out she was going to have surgery, we were very sad and upset,” Francesca Swikoski said.

Not only is Payton Shock a great friend, she’s also a good teammate. She likes gymnastics and basketball, and Howard Shock said that she was on the Destination Imagination team last year. The volunteer-led, educational nonprofit organization teaches skills and STEM principles to students through problem solving.