Being there for Sloan: “She’s my best friend.”

Elkhart Memorial graduate Sloan Goss-Marbaugh lost her battle with cancer, but her sister, senior Madison Goss never left her side.


Photo submitted by Madison Goss

Senior Madison Goss (left) and Sloan Goss-Marbaugh (right) smile in front of a water fountain in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, April 13. Goss-Marbaugh lost her battle with cancer on May 27.

Jahlea Douglas, Editor-in-chief

Elkhart Memorial 2018 graduate, Sloan Goss-Marbaugh, lost her battle with cancer on May 27 at the age of 19.

Going through each day of high school is hard enough as is. Trying to keep one’s composure while dealing with peers and also trying to maintain the grades necessary to stay on track for an honors diploma is more stress than most kids can handle. We all look forward to that moment that we get to walk across the stage and be congratulated for making it through high school.

But, one month before graduation, Sloan got a pain in her side and that’s when the stress exceeded that of the average high school student.

She started to have pain in May [2018]… and went to the doctors and got prescribed medication for stomach ulcers,” senior and sister of Sloan, Madison Goss said. “The medication wasn’t helping, so they ended up doing a biopsy on her liver and found that her enzymes were abnormal.”

Photo submitted by Madison Goss
Sloan Goss-Marbaugh (left) and senior Madison Goss (right) smile in front of a water wall in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, April 13. Goss-Marbaugh lost her battle with cancer on May 27.

Shortly after her biopsy, Sloan went in for a CAT scan and and was told that there was a mass on her liver. This forced her to go back to the hospital the very next day to get another biopsy.

“This biopsy hurt the most and made her terrified of getting more done,” Madison said.

And this was when Sloan received the news that no one wants to receive, especially an 18 year old. She was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma cancer in the bile ducts of her liver. This cancer is most often found in people ages 50-60 years old. The cancer started in both her liver and her lymph nodes not giving her the option to get a liver transplant. Even though only 20 percent of the human liver is necessary for survival, the doctors wanted to save more.

Since intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is so rare, there was not a specific chemotherapy for Sloan which made treatments even more difficult. But, her sister was always by her side.

“Sloan and I were close before this happened,” Madison  said, “but we are even closer now. She’s my best friend.”

Madison changed her entire high school plan just so that she could be there for Sloan. As an Early College student, Madison had the opportunity to earn 30 college credits, but she gave that opportunity up and finished her senior year online so that she could spend more time with Sloan. Instead of sitting in the classroom, Madison drove Sloan to Indianapolis to appointments and sat with her during chemotherapy. 

“I was already missing every Monday just to be with her at chemos,” Madison said. “She had so many random trips to Indianapolis and trying to get everyone to understand and be on the same page at school was hard.”

When making the decision to do this, Madison had to prioritize and being with her sister was definitely a priority. She felt that she had time to make up her missed college credits, but she would never get to make up missing time with Sloan. 

Earlier this spring, it became apparent that Sloan’s chemotherapy treatments were not working and that the cancer was quickly spreading. Sloan’s prognosis was not good, and she was given only months to live. But there is one more thing that her doctor was planning to try: a clinical trial. Clinical trials are a form of medical research conducted in order to discover new treatments for serious illnesses such as cancer. 

Photo submitted by Madison Goss
Madison Goss and Sloan Goss-Marbaugh smile with their family on Tuesday, April 16 at Sloan’s give back night sponsored by Culvers of Elkhart. Goss-Marbaugh lost her battle with cancer on Sunday, May 27.

Participating in a medical trial takes money, so in order to raise money for Sloan’s trial, Culvers of Elkhart did a give back night. 

Sloan worked at Culvers for about three years, so the owner, Michael Atkinson decided it was appropriate to donate roughly 25 percent of all the proceeds on her give back night to her and her family.

This is different from most of the give back nights because when Culvers usually does them for different schools and organizations they only give 10 percent of all proceeds and sometimes there is a time constraint.

With being such a strong student in high school, especially in academics, Sloan started college at Indiana University of South Bend with aspirations to one day become a heart surgeon, but with her diagnosis, going to school soon faded from the picture.

I don’t [plan on still going to college] because my prognosis is only a few months,” Sloan said in April. “It’s truly heartbreaking that I don’t have that option anymore, but I’ve accepted that I did my best in school and I fulfilled everything I could have!” 

Upon learning of her prognosis, there was one thing that Sloan wasn’t willing to let go; she wanted to get married to her high school sweetheart, Elkhart Memorial 2018 graduate, Austin Marbaugh. The two were married on Sunday, May 26, just a day before her death.

“Having cancer has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically and mentally, but I feel it brought the community together and showed me the true relationships I have with friends and family,” Sloan told GENESIS in April.