"Genuine," "compassionate," "beautiful," "brilliant" and "caring" — rarely do so many words describe one individual, but these were just a handful of the many terms used to describe Sonia Sethi on her Facebook wall a day after it was announced that she had passed away.
Sonia, a 2005 graduate of , was diagnosed with a high-grade form of sarcoma in August 2011. According to the National Cancer Institute, "sarcomas are malignant (cancerous) tumors that develop in tissues which connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body."
Seth Sethi, Sonia's brother, said the sarcoma, which is very rare and nearly incurable, was a surprise to everyone.
"It was a real shock to us," Seth said. "Everything was fine, she was very active and then, all of the sudden, she started getting back and stomach pains."
Sonia's family did what they could for her — going to doctors, flying in specialists from around the world and consulting the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Despite several cycles of chemo therapy, nothing seemed to work.
Late last week, Sonia insisted her family take her to the hospital again because she thought something was wrong.
Unfortunately, Sonia was right. The cancer had spread and essentially shut down her lungs.
"We stayed with her through this whole ordeal," Seth said. "We tried to keep her as comfortable as possible. ... We lost her on Jan. 8 at 1:24 a.m. She died in my arms."
But friends say, despite everything that Sonia had gone through, she remained the same. After being diagnosed, Sonia sent an email to close friends in which she referred to herself as "annoyingly optimistic and happy."
For someone who enjoyed giving so much, it comes as no surprise that Sonia wanted to become a doctor. She graduated from Barnard College in 2009 and was a double major at Boston University, where she was going for her Masters in Public Health.
"She always went out of her way to help other people," Seth said. "... [She was] just a good human being."
Friends have cited many instances of Sonia's sincere nature and ability to give. From sharing toys in kindergarten at to organizing blood drives and vigils in college, there didn't seem to be anything the 24-year-old wouldn't do for someone.
Sonia, a model student, graduated No. 3 in her class at WHHS, was the president of Athletes Helping Athletes and a member of several honor societies and clubs. When she wasn't working on her own extracurricular activities, she was helping other students as a tutor.
Several of Sonia's close friends summed up exactly why she was so loved: "Sonia wasn’t just a friend to us, she was someone that has touched us and left a lasting imprint that in some way helped shape all of our lives. She always kept it real and had her special way of encouraging you with such truth and genuine nature."
Friends and family can pay their respects to Sonia at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, at the Vernon C. Wagner Funeral Home, located at 125 W. Old Country Road in Hicksville.
The Akhand Path (Religious Ceremony) starts on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. and will continue until Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at 677 Cornwell Ave. in West Hempstead.