Sarah Taylor. Photo courtesy of the family.
Sarah Taylor. Photo courtesy of the family.

Sarah Taylor, a 14-year-old Hauser High School freshman, thought that her flowing hair was her most known feature. 

But when she lost that hair to chemotherapy treatments for cancer, she soon found that was not what others saw in her, says her mom, Kim Taylor. 

"It turns out really, it is her smile, that is so captivating," Taylor said. "She sees that now, for herself."

Hauser students and the Hope community have been rallying around the girl and the family as they continue to struggle through treatment. Before Saturday's Hauser-Indian Creek basketball game, there will be a ribeye dinner at the school to help the family cover its mounting expenses. 

The Taylor family includes Sarah, her mother Kim, her father, Chad, and Sarah's younger sister, 13-year-old Libby

Taylor said that the struggle started in November, when Sarah had what the family thought was a shoulder strain -- possibly from carrying a heavy drum kit in the band. 

"And then suddenly, she had a really painful night," Taylor said. "She woke up one morning and I could just tell that something was really off. And she was miserable. And by the end of that day, the top of her her shoulder, on her arm, was just so swollen.  And it was very hot to touch."

At that point, Taylor said she had a sick feeling in her stomach that something was really wrong. A trip to Riley Hospital in Indianapolis revealed that she had bone cancer, osteosarcoma, in her arm. 

Taylor said that she was already familiar with that type of cancer, because she had been following the story of Purdue University superfan Tyler Trent. Trent died last year at the age of 20 after battling the same type of cancer. Taylor had followed his inspiring story closely.  

Sarah started chemotherapy in November with the hope that the tumor would shrink to the point that surgery could be done to repair her arm. But instead of shrinking, the tumors grew and metastasized, spreading to Sarah's lungs. They have started a new type of chemo to try to attack the growth. 

Through it all though, Sarah has remained upbeat, Taylor said. She has relied on Scripture, worship songs and a hope that she could inspire others to bolster their own resolve.

"She is amazing," Taylor said. "She is so brave and she has just said, right from the beginning, that if she could use her story to encourage anyone else who is going through something difficult, to have faith and continuing to look to God for her source of strength and joy."

"She just wants to visit with people about it and tell people her story, and where her strength comes from."

Sarah has always been outgoing and sociable. She has been active in FFA, in the band and is on student council, her mother said. Now, she keeps up with her friends mostly through social media.

Taylor said that the family is now looking at the reality that Sarah will likely have to have her arm amputated. But she is also taking that in stride, planning new strategies to overcome that obstacle. 

"She is remaining very positive and is already planning what the new normal will be like, as we continue to fight the rest of the cancer that is in her lungs," Taylor said. 

The support of the community has also meant a lot to the family, Taylor said. 

"We have been overwhelmed by the following on Facebook, first of all," Taylor said. "People praying for us, and following our story. The messages of hope and out prayer warriors, just mean the world to us. 

"The random acts of kindness we get... She has been showered with all kinds of things to show love for her. I don't know that anyone else has ever felt so loved while going through something. It has just been incredible to have our community surround us. People from school, from church, our family members and even just complete strangers are reaching out and telling you how they have been impacted by your story and how they are praying for you. It is just pretty amazing."

The family has struggled financially. Taylor said she had to leave her job when they family got Sarah's diagnosis, and Chad has had to take time off work. But the community has also come forward to help out, she said.

"It has just been incredible, the fundraising that they have come up with on their own to support us with," Taylor said. "This dinner that they are doing this weekend, the FFA club. They are selling bracelets as well. There have been a couple of T-shirt fundraisers -- Sarah Strong T-shirts that people have been buying."

"Some people have given gift cards and money for gas. And money for food, just to keep our family going through this time.. It has just been overwhelming to see people give their hard-earned money during this time as we just try to keep our family together and fight this for Sarah."