Two Infinity and Beyond…

Natalie and Sam
“We say we’re the same person in two different bodies,” seniors Natalie Hill and Samantha Ring said.

Natalie and Sam have known each other since preschool. The two became closer when Sam started carrying Natalie’s books freshman year, while Natalie was on crutches after her left leg was amputated as a result of her osteosarcoma cancer. When school was too much for Natalie to attend every day, Sam offered to transfer to Resource Link with Natalie full time.

“I wouldn’t say it was a surprise because I knew that she wanted to be beside me but it wasn’t expected,” Natalie said.

The bond between the two is more than a friendship to Natalie. She said she views Sam as a sister by choice and not by chance.

“We don’t have to be doing anything big, we just enjoy each other’s company,” Natalie said. “Whatever we end up doing, we have fun.”

Whether they are coaching soccer, hanging out at home or keeping each other company while the other cleans her room, they spend most of their time together with their families.

Sam’s parents, Lori and Mike Ring, reinforce Sam’s decisions.

“It’s something she had to do, it’s Sam, she has a huge heart,” Lori said. “It made her grow a lot and look ahead, which can be very hard for a teenager.”

Natalie said her parents, Shaunne and Jeff Hill, are always there for her.

“They always stand behind me in my decisions, giving me their full support,” Natalie said.

Natalie is currently in the cabozantinib clinical trial, a phase one study, through Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. She has taken an experimental chemotherapy pill every day for the past four months.

“Nothing has grown, and a few things have shrunk,” Natalie said.

Due to her condition, Natalie compiled a bucket list of everything she wants to experience in life.

Natalie has crossed off 31 out of 54 items from her list, many of which Sam has done with her. Natalie said she feels accomplished every time she gets to check something off her bucket list. Some of Natalie’s favorite things she has gotten to do were go to Hawaii and Alaska, shoot hoops with the Trail Blazers, and meet Taylor Swift.

“The things Natalie has been able to accomplish has been a great experience, and it wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the community support,” Shaunne said.

One of the most permanent things Natalie and Sam have done together as part of Natalie’s bucket list was getting matching tattoos representing their friendship. Even though Oregon State law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from getting a tattoo, Natalie and Sam were able to obtain a doctor’s note allowing them to get their tattoos, which are made up of their favorite Hawaiian flower, the tropical plumeria, and the birthdate they share, December 15. The tattoo also has Sam’s favorite Disney quote “To infinity and beyond” from the movie Toy Story.

Sam said no matter what happens, even if they drift apart, they will always find their way back to each other.

“The ‘To infinity’ to us means there is so many possibilities out there,” Natalie said. “And the ‘and beyond’ represents how our friendship will always be there no matter what.”