When the bus came to take her daughter to school Tuesday, Shante Pendleton's mother told the driver the news.
Shante, 12, had died Monday at her West Baltimore home. Through radiation and chemotherapy and many "bad days," she had seldom missed school since her brain cancer was discovered, her mother said.
She had suffered quietly for the past two years, fighting the illness that took her strength and energy and ultimately left her unable to talk and in a wheelchair.
"Everyone who came in contact with her never knew she was so ill," said her mother, Carrie Pendleton. "She was an inspiration to everyone. She'd always say to me, 'Mommy, everything is going to be OK.' She believed it, too."
Shante was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February 1997. That June, she was given six months to live. She beat those odds and celebrated with a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., with her parents in January 1998.
Despite the tumor, she tried to lead a normal life. She was a Girl Scout and loved to hike, ice skate and create outlandish hairstyles.
She had the biggest, brightest smile, friends said, and was the first to comfort others when they were upset.
"I never saw her cry out of frustration in all of the years that I worked with her," said Wanda Onafuwa, her Girl Scout leader with Troop 1862, which meets at New Psalmist Baptist Church.
Shante was awarded the troop's Spirit Award in Scouting in November.
A Baltimore native, Shante was a seventh-grader at the William S. Baer School for handicapped youngsters in West Baltimore. Until October, when her illness worsened, she attended West Baltimore Middle School.
Shante began using a wheelchair all the time in September and soon after lost the use of her right arm. She played wheelchair basketball and learned to use her left hand to write, feed herself and groom her hair.
Valerie Byrdsong, a therapist at the Baer school, said Shante always wanted to go to school.
"The strength she had although she was deteriorating was amazing," Ms. Byrdsong said. "I saw her Friday and said, 'It's great that you came to school,' and all she was able to do was nod her head. She was a sweet little girl."
Shante was a member of New Psalmist Baptist, 4501 Frederick Road, where she was active in the church school. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the church.
In addition to her mother, Shante is survived by her father, Gregory Pendleton; a brother, Alvin Johnson; and two sisters, Sherrie Pendleton and Shena Pendleton. All are of Baltimore.
Pub Date: 2/19/99