Hingham resident and Hingham High School graduate Carol (Sherman) Lincoln, the school nurse at South School, is known for her courage, endurance, resiliency, and positive attitude during challenging times.
Following an above-the-knee amputation in November, Lincoln is undergoing physical therapy to build up her strength as she prepares for a prosthesis in the next few months.
Despite the long road ahead, she remains determined to make continued progress, with a particular goal in mind -- "dancing at my daughter, Sarah's, wedding in June," Lincoln said.
Sarah recently organized a GoFundMe page for her mother, to help toward medical bills that aren't covered by health insurance. While the goal has been exceeded, the medical costs will continue to climb. The entire cost of a prothesis -- as much as $50,000 -- may not be covered.
Moreover, a waterproof prosthesis is considered a "luxury" item and is not covered at all. This was disheartening news to Lincoln, who enjoys going to the beach and swimming laps in a gym pool.
Lincoln was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma -- a cancer of the bone or soft tissue -- at 12 years old and has overcome many obstacles, as exemplified by her ability to compensate for her physical limitations.
Until this latest setback -- brought about by the long-term effects of radiation -- Lincoln enjoyed walking her dog, swimming, doing water aerobics, and participating in many other activities.
After developing a large non-healing wound on that leg, Lincoln underwent various treatments while experiencing excruciating pain, without success, leading to the amputation.
According to Sarah, her mother has devoted her entire life to caring for others "both in and outside of work as an elementary school nurse [at South School] and is always the first to take care of someone or lend a helping hand."
Sarah also called her mother "the strongest woman I know -- and I'm not just saying that because she's my mom. She has overcome many battles in her life and there is no doubt in my mind that she'll overcome this one. She has such a positive, go-getter attitude."
When Sarah has attended physical therapy sessions with her mother, she has heard positive comments made about "how well and amazing she is doing, but she always focuses on the places she can improve on because that's just how she is --motivated and hardworking," Sarah said. "I can't even explain how proud, honored, and truly happy I am to call her my mom. She is THE person I look up to and the reason I became a nurse myself. Seeing the outpouring of support from the community doesn't shock me because I know how much of an impact she has on people and now everyone can truly see that!"
Lincoln's son, Sam, also shared his thoughts about his mother's strength and resiliency. "She has battled to live a somewhat normal life since she was a kid. My mom has been an unbelievable role model to me and has taught me to be kind and selfless no matter what you may be going through. This is just another battle for her to overcome, and she is sure built for it."
The GoFundMe donations will help Lincoln transition into her new life and help get her back to the activities she enjoys.
While she would like to go back to the job she loves at South School soon, on the advice of her medical team, Lincoln will not return until next September.
She shared that what has brought her this far is her self-determination and strong will to overcome challenges that she has had since she was diagnosed as a young girl.
"Even when I was ill when I was younger, I tried to be as independent as possible, determined to try new things despite my limitations," Lincoln recalled. The same is true of her as an adult, evidenced in part by her taking up pickleball last summer.
As she gets stronger, her doctors expect that she will be able to "do much more once I have a prosthesis than I was able to do before, because I will have more mobility," she said. "This shines a bright light on my situation. I'm hoping to take dancing lessons with my prosthesis leading up to my daughter's wedding!"
Lincoln is also looking forward to running for the first time since she was diagnosed at age 12. At that time, she was no longer able to run, ice skate or participate in gymnastics as she underwent radiation and chemotherapy.
"I'm not trying to become a marathon runner, but I would enjoy running to the house next door and back. That would be amazing!" she said.
Even though her activity level was sharply curtailed, people were amazed at what Lincoln could do in the years following her diagnosis, "sometimes not even realizing my physical limitations," she recalled.
Lincoln expressed great gratitude for her friends, family, the South School community, and the entire Hingham community for their support and donations.
"The South School community has been absolutely amazing to me -- the staff, students, administrators, and parents -- sending bags of cards and expressing support in so many ways," she said, as well as making generous donations through GoFundMe.
The school community has more than lived up to its motto of "bee-ing (the school mascot is a bee) kinder than necessary," with the students exemplifying what they are learning about showing kindness and being thoughtful and respectful of others. "They have done that for me, and I'm grateful from the bottom of my heart for all the support and love," Lincoln said.
South School Principal Mary Eastwood said students -- with whom Lincoln's story has been shared -- are learning from her courageous example that when faced with a challenge, people can go on with their lives with support from family, friends, co-workers, and others.
The book, "Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship," by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes is being used as a tool to help South School students learn this lesson in an age-appropriate way. The book, based on a real-life partnership, tells the heartening story of the love and teamwork between a girl and her service dog.
"Carol has been the caretaker of everybody -- we jokingly call her 'Dr. Carol'! All her life she's taken care of everyone else, and it's our turn to help take care of her," Eastwood said. "We all adore her and look forward to her return."
In another show of support, the staff has been holding raffles with different themes, with the proceeds donated to Lincoln. Other members of the South School community are making meals for her family. "This goes to show that the good you do for others comes back to you. She's an amazing person," Eastwood said.
This is a new journey for Lincoln as she navigates the next steps and finds ways to adapt her living spaces to meet her needs. "Living with limb loss is overwhelming and challenging, but Sarah and Sam and other members of my family and my friends have been unbelievably supportive, as has the entire community and beyond," Lincoln said. "Their love and support will help me get through this."
To make a donation in support of Carol Lincoln, visit https://www.gofundme.