Haley’s story: Balancing school and work while fighting cancer


Haley Galvin

Haley Galvin

By Haley Galvin

Being a college student and working at a newspaper was really hard last semester in the midst of the pandemic. Now, this semester, I am helping manage that newspaper, and I am battling cancer, while still taking five college courses. To say that it’s hard is the understatement of a lifetime. And I know there are people with cancer who still have to care for families who deal with much more than I do. I am not ignorant to that, but this is still difficult to do.

My first treatment was the same week that classes started, and I knew then I had to tell my professors what I was going through. I wanted to be transparent, but I didn’t want it to be an excuse to fall behind in my classes. I reached out to all my professors, and many of them were more accommodating to me than I expected. They gave me the chance to feel as comfortable as possible in Zoom classes.

At the time, I didn’t realize it, but I wouldn’t want my camera on, and my professor gave me that option before I even had to ask. I was able to keep my privacy in this delicate and difficult time. For this, I am grateful. I was able to keep this to myself until I was ready. 

I have also been given the grace of certain extensions if I ever needed them. I’ve hardly taken any because I don’t always want to have that “excuse.” I have to get my responsibilities done and make it work.

When it comes to managing a newspaper, I have so much help from my editor-in-chief and all the other editors. On mornings when I am sick and cannot make it to meetings, I don’t feel pressure to attend and I am given help whenever I ask for it. 

But that is one thing that is really hard for me. I have a very hard time asking for help, so I have been toughing it out. I feel like I have no other choice. Life does not stop because I have cancer. It keeps going, so I have to keep going. 

So that’s what I’m doing.

I go through every day because I have to. I refuse to let this disease be an excuse. If I sit around and do nothing, I would drive myself crazy. I know that’s a mentality not a lot of people would be able to have. Everyone deals with this differently, and we are all on our own journey with this horrible disease. I choose to work through it — even on days when I am sick or so stressed out it would be easier to take a break.

I am sure some people would take the semester off school, but I didn’t. I don’t want this to be a setback that keeps me from my dreams. Cancer has taken so much from me already, so I want to make sure it doesn’t take my graduation or job away.

That is why I do homework and edit stories through the fatigue and through the nausea: I want to get through it. I think I’ve been telling myself that if I just keep working through it, it will come to an end sooner. I hope that it goes by as quickly as it can because I chose to work my way through it and just go through my everyday life with it.

I want nothing more but to return to my normal life, to be a normal college student. That is why I do this the way that I do, so I can get through this journey hopefully as quickly as possible. 

I am grateful to everyone I have had to help me manage my day-to-day when I need help, even if I don’t always ask for it.