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Dublin High School Alum Camille Chabot Defeats Cancer Twice, Graduates on Time from Cal Poly SLO

June 22, 2017

DUBLIN, CA–Dublin High School Class of ’13 graduate Camille Chabot and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Class of ’17 alum walked the stage on Father’s Day to receive her BS in Liberal Studies. What is remarkable is she walked with her class, graduating on time in four years, despite battling stage IV Hodgkin Lymphoma cancer not once, but twice. Camille endured surgery, a dozen chemotherapy sessions, a relapse, and a bone marrow transplant. Camille continued her studies through a local community college, even working on a laptop computer during chemo sessions. She missed three quarters in the classroom at Cal Poly, but remained on track academically with the help of professors and advisors.

We most recently spoke to Camille after her first round of treatments, when she hoped cancer would be behind her. We circle back now with both cancer defeated and undergrad completed to learn more about how she stayed on track despite extraordinary challenges.

camille chabot_5x7_3

James Morehead: Describe the feeling of graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Father’s Day, on-time with the rest of your class, after everything you’ve been through battling cancer.

IMG_5280Camille Chabot: “It felt awesome to finally say ‘I’m a college graduate’ after everything I’ve been through. I also feel like it hasn’t fully hit me yet since I’ll be back at Cal Poly in the fall to start my teaching credential. Saying ‘I’m a college graduate’ means being able to say that I took all the required classes for my major, and that I’m skillful and knowledgable about my major.

At the graduation ceremony the head of the alumni board spoke to the graduating class about the spirit of Cal Poly alumni. When Cal Poly alumni in the audience were asked to stand-up it seemed like half the parents were alumni. It’s an awesome school and community.

I’m completing the two classes I need for my minor this summer at the Sorbonne University in Paris. I’ve been trying to study abroad for several years and had to cancel the trip twice due to the cancer treatments. It’s also cool that my mom went to the Sorbonne when she was a junior and senior in college!”

Morehead: What locked in your interest in pursuing education?

Chabot: “The ROP Child Development Program I completed during my senior year at Dublin High School is the primary reason. I took the course at Foothill High School three days per week, and also spent two days per week at John Green Elementary School in second grade classrooms. I fell in love with the classroom through that experience, and it pushed me towards liberal studies at Cal Poly.”

Morehead: The last time we spoke, you were completing your final treatments after your initial diagnosis, and were hoping to be free of cancer. What was your approach to battling cancer a second time, and not letting it defeat you?

Chabot: “I remember knowing I was going to have to do it all over again and while it broke my heart to have to withdraw from Cal Poly, I knew I wanted to continue taking classes to keep busy, to beat cancer and to try and have a normal life. Here I am today being able to say I graduated college and defeated cancer not once, but twice.”

Morehead: What did Cal Poly do to help you stay on track?

Chabot: “The head of the liberal studies department, Dr. Berber-Jiménez, worked one on one with me as my advisor, helping to find the community college classes that would work perfectly as substitutes for Cal Poly classes. She didn’t have to meet with me, she’s the head of the department. She took the time, at least once or twice a quarter, to talk on the phone with me while I was in the hospital, and when I was back on campus. There was also the Disability Resource Center, which I learned about this year, and the Mustang Success Center.”


Morehead: What advice do you have for people who have friends battling cancer? What can they do to be most supportive?

Chabot: “The first person I think of is Sam Theard. She was awesome during treatment; during my first diagnosis she was able to come to every single one of me chemotherapy sessions. She was always checking on me and she felt comfortable asking me questions. When I was with people I didn’t know very well they did not want to talk to me about cancer, they wanted to talk to me about something else. They probably didn’t want me thinking about cancer but honestly I was always thinking about cancer. Sam felt comfortable asking me whatever questions she had on her mind, and being supportive. It wasn’t about buying me presents or gift cards, it was about being there with me.”

Morehead: You wrote in detail about your treatment experience on your blog, was externalizing what you were going through helpful?

Chabot: “Absolutely. If you notice on the blog I have still to write about being in the hospital during the second round of treatments. There was a point while I was in the Stanford Medical Center that I felt like I was dying, I was doing so horribly from the chemo treatments. I have an article drafted that I haven’t published because I haven’t found a way to put my feelings into words.

“Sam and I talked about this, how I responded to the first round of treatments as compared to the second. In comparison the first round didn’t hit me as hard whereas during the second it really felt as though the cancer was leaving my body, if that makes sense. Looking back maybe the cancer was never really gone after the first round of treatments. The second time the treatment hit me so much harder, the medicine was so much stronger.”

Morehead: What advice do you have for other young adults battling cancer?

Chabot: “I tried to remember that it was only a small portion of my life. It’s been a year since I was in the hospital and here I am, a college graduate, and doing other things that have nothing to do with cancer. It’s important to remember that the treatments will end and you can get back to your life and continue on.”

Morehead: As your life continues on and you head into teacher’s college, a step closer to the ‘real world’, how does that feel?

Chabot: “It’s a little scary! It’s weird to think I have no idea where I’ll be a year from now. Of course I’ll apply here in the East Bay, or maybe I’ll fall in love with a school in the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, or maybe even Orange County.”

Morehead: Finally, what have you seen in great teachers that inspires you and that you want to achieve when you start teaching?

Chabot: “You don’t have to be your students’ best friend, but it’s important to be a role model, to be someone who your students can look up to and remember. It’s important to be someone your students can approach if they are having problems at home or in their personal lives, or if they are being bullied. Teaching is not only about academics and the standards, it’s also being someone your students can rely on. You spend forty hours per week with your students, more than you spend with your family at home!”


Inspired? Consider donating to the American Cancer Society or charity of your choice that supports cancer research.


Camille with her family celebrating graduation


One Comment
  1. June 22, 2017 10:31 pm

    Thank you for showcasing Camille’s challenging journey. I hope she continues to inspire those who are diagnosed during college and encourage them to imagine the finish line. #CamilleStrong

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