Sometimes all it takes to find “the strength to get through the finish line” is a doughnut and a kind stranger.
This week, reaching that finish line seemed daunting for her family, San Luis Obispo resident Lindsey Noland said. Now, the mother of three said, the finish line is behind them.
As of Wednesday, her 6-year-old daughter, Claire, is “cancer free,” Noland announced on Facebook.
“We were just so elated. We are on top of the world,” said Noland, whose family celebrated the news with a special treat, free doughnuts from SLO Donut Co. in San Luis Obispo.
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Claire was diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma in February and went through six rounds of chemotherapy in the past six months.
On July 19, when her biweekly test results came back with encouraging results, her family went to SLO Donut Co. to celebrate.
There, a man, Atascadero resident Tom Weatherman, offered to buy their doughnuts, bringing Noland to humbled tears.
Initially, Noland did not know Weatherman’s full name or his story. But she and Weather’s wife were introduced through Facebook after Noland wrote a post expressing her gratitude for the kind stranger.
“These acts of kindness will never be lost on me,” Noland wrote in a Facebook post that featured a photo of Claire and Weatherman.
After seeing her husband’s photo, along with an account of his generous act, in The Tribune, Nancy Weatherman said she was not entirely surprised. She described Weatherman as a quiet, “tough biker type,” with a soft heart.
“He just pays it forward because he is a (kidney) cancer survivor,” Weatherman said.
“That little girl, she is spreading the spirit and he just knew she was a strong little girl. He just knew she is going to beat cancer,” she added.
Tom Weatherman initially identified himself as a veteran, but his wife clarified that they are part of the Paso Robles American Legion Riders; he’s also a member of the Sons of the American Legions. Although Weatherman and his wife are not veterans, both their fathers were and they are largely involved in the veteran community, Nancy Weatherman said.
On Thursday, it was SLO Donut Co. —known to customers as SloDoCo — that continued to pay it forward.
After extensive post-treatment scans at Stanford University, lab results showed that Claire’s cancer was in remission.
To celebrate, her grandmother, Cher Schuerman, went to get Claire a doughnut from SloDoCo before she arrived home.
There, Schuerman was greeted with a lovely surprise. The doughnut shop made a custom order with “Way to Go” and “Claire” written on the doughnuts — and then told Schuerman the sweet treats were on the house.
For the next year, Claire will have to get her blood drawn every six weeks for a check-up to see whether or not her cancer remains in remission. Schuerman said the family is hopeful that Claire will no longer need chemotherapy.
“We are just so thankful to this community .... from SloDoCo to strangers like Tom,” Noland said.