Tiny Talk with Sydney Waitt: A Cancer Survival Experience

By Victor Franco, Staff Writer

Time + tragedy = comedy. This is the equation that helped Sydney Waitt through her experience with cancer. 

Waitt is currently a senior at Manhattan College who is double majoring in peace and justice studies and political science, but through her Tiny Talk students were able to hear a more personal story of her life through a comedic lens. 

Waitt was able to create a shift in her story that most would say is only supposed to be tragic and placed a comedic stance to help her better cope with the reality of her situation.

Waitt’s first realization that something was wrong was during her high school softball game, where she noticed a big bump beginning to form on her forearm causing her to sit out of the game and go to her doctor the next day. When she saw a doctor about it, many tests were run and she was sent to Boston Children’s Hospital, where she was diagnosed with stage four Ewing Sarcoma cancer (bone cancer). This cancer is extremely rare and a lot of precautions had to be made to assure Waitt’s cancer wouldn’t continue to grow.  

“Bone cancer makes up for less than one percent of all cancers diagnosed. Of that small percentage, 30 percent are Ewing Sarcomas like mine, and of those 30 percent, only five percent of cases are in the arm,” Waitt said. 

Even with all this bad news thrown at her about her health, Waitt was able to laugh through it. Waitt, who is originally from Maine, had to do several months of chemotherapy at Boston Children’s Hospital for the next nine months. However, Waitt didn’t think about all the pain she would go through.

“It wasn’t bad — I’ve waited for Netflix series seasons to come out longer than that,” Waitt said.

Waitt’s experience with her cancer treatment also involved external problems, which she has found humor in. 

“I puked in the Portland, Maine Hospital lobby more than anyone else, and that’s a record I keep till this day,” Waitt said. “After my surgery, when I woke up, I felt that it was enough time for me to joke about the fact that my arm looked like a wet noodle … I thrive off of laughter from other people, I am that type of person.” 

Waitt told The Quadrangle that her humor wouldn’t always help her get through her cancer.

“Even though I had a humorous outlook, it wasn’t humorous all the time, no one can be like a ray of sunshine 100 percent of the time … I definitely see the balance,” she said. “The recovery was slow, but I took it day by day. Seeing all the small changes that you are doing well mentally pays off.”

Danial Rios, a mechanical engineering student, attended Waitt’s Tiny Talk.

“I really like her story and hearing about the equation of life and how she was able to apply that to not only cancer but any other shortcoming experiences she had,” Rios said. “I agree with her 100 percent. After any amount of time, if you’re not going to joke about something that happened, why even remember it because you’re just going to always look at it negatively.”

Ysabella Rincon, a management major, also attended Waitt’s Tiny Talk and acknowledged Waitt’s perseverance. 

“The fact that she has been through so much pain at such a young age and yet she still finds the light at the end of the tunnel is what stood out to me,” said Rincon. “Everybody shares struggles, but we are all in this together and we can rely on each other’s support when needed.”