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Parade of love, support

Debbie Belew-Nyquist, with drum major Melanie Simms, expresses her gratitude to the band, drill team and cheerleaders.  - Photo by Erin Beil
Debbie Belew-Nyquist, with drum major Melanie Simms, expresses her gratitude to the band, drill team and cheerleaders.
— image credit: Photo by Erin Beil

Tears formed at the corners of Debbie Belew-Nyquist’s eyes as she watched rows of orange and black march over the crest of her street and into her driveway.

What she thought was her neighbors playing loud music turned out to be the Central Kitsap High School band, guard drill team and cheerleading squad providing a personal parade of support. Each band member was equipped with a pink ribbon pinned to their uniform in support of Belew-Nyquist.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Belew-Nyquist said as a large smile spread across her face. “I can’t even describe the rows of uniforms ... that’s the whole band in uniform.”

Belew-Nyquist, one of the assistant principals at CKHS, was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer on Jan. 30. For the past three months, Belew-Nyquist has been receiving her first series of chemotherapy treatments.

“The support has been overwhelming,” Belew-Nyquist said with tears in her eyes. “These are exceptional kids.”

Only half an hour before the students began marching down the street to Belew-Nyquist’s house, they were gathered around the bend to warm up.

“Dr. Belew-Nyquist has been a big support of the band,” said CKHS Drum Major Melanie Simms. “We’re giving back for everything she’s done for us.”

After the band, cheerleaders and guard drill team finished the personal concert at Belew-Nyquist’s house, they were all given Popsicles and soda to cool off from the 70-degree weather.

“There are two and three words that I don’t think can sum it up better,” Belew-Nyquist told the band right after they finished performing. “Thank you and I love you.”

Along with expressing her gratitude, Belew-Nyquist also informed students of the importance of early detection and encouraged them to participate in Relay for Life, which will be at Central Kitsap High School on June 23 and 24.

“(Relay for Life) is on our field, if you can, a team would be great,” Belew-Nyquist told the members of the band.

Cindy Hjelmaa, a close family friend, was at Belew-Nyquist’s house when the band marched up and said she has gone to every doctor’s appointment and chemotherapy treatment with her.

“She is not going to go through chemo treatments alone,” Hjelmaa said. “I’m very proud of her.”

Hjelmaa added that even though Belew-Nyquist is supposed to be resting, she still goes up to the school to see the students and writes recommendation letters with what little strength she has left.

“It’s been really tough watching someone go through this,” Hjelmaa said. “But she’s done it with more grace and humor than I could have. I don’t know many people like that.”

Brian Nyquist, Belew-Nyquist’s husband, said his wife had as good a prognosis as possible.

“This is the roughest thing I’ve ever been through,” Nyquist said about supporting his wife through her cancer treatments. “She’s needed me more and I’ve needed her more, and we’ve really come to appreciate each other.”

Although doctors told Belew-Nyquist she will beat the disease because she caught it in time, she is onto the second series of a three-series chemotherapy treatment regime.

“Central Kitsap staff (and students) have been tremendous in their support,” Belew-Nyquist said. “I’m going to be a success story because of early detection.”

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