21-year-old El Camino College student dies of cancer

Track and Field athlete, Makeba Bowman died of cancer on Nov. 30, after a ten-month long fight with the disease.

Diagnosed in February, 21-year-old Bowman had Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of cancer that occurs in the bones or the soft tissue around the bones. Bowman’s originated in her hip, which she and coaches originally attributed to a sports injury.

In 2019, Bowman transferred from Harbor College, where she played basketball, to El Camino College. Once at ECC, she began training with the track and field team even though they were in the offseason, and she wasn’t eligible to compete with the team yet.

Along with training to perfect her jumping, sprinting and hurdling skills, Bowman took an active role in the athletic training center as a volunteer.

“That was an aspiration of hers, going into the health-related field, possibly athletic training or physical therapy,” Dean Lofgren, track and field and cross country head coach said. “So she got to know the trainers really well. And they got to know her really well because she was in there [a] couple hours a day, assisting with student athletes,”

As an athlete, Bowman was talented and willing to take on new challenges and expand her range of events, coaches said.

“Even if it was something that she didn’t feel like she was comfortable with, as far as presenting her with new challenges and taking on [new things] she was always up to the challenge,” John Hall, track and field assistant coach at ECC said,

On and off the field, she was a constant positive influence and cheerleader, teammates and coaches said.

“She just brought [this] amazing positive vibe to like all our workouts, and she was just such a great teammate to everyone around her. So not only was she positive, in her outlook in regards to herself, but she was always willing to lift up other people, and be positive and supportive to them.” Hall said.

Teammates remember Bowman’s ability to always pick them up with her kindness and positivity, even during the most exhausting days of training.

“She had hip issues [and] asthma too, so she would kind of be to the side and not always finish the runs,” Sophie Abe, former member of the track and field team at ECC said. “But she was always there, regardless of whether she was in pain or [not], cheering us on.”

Even as her illness progressed, friends and family say that she never seemed down and her outlook on life never faltered, always making sure everyone else was feeling okay despite her own suffering.

“While it’s tragic, I can’t help but smile. Even the last time I saw her in the hospital, three weeks before she passed, she was just trying, again, to make us all laugh and make us all feel comfortable with the situation,” Hall said. “That was the last interaction I had with her. But you know, she’s not gonna let you feel sorry for her, that’s for sure.”

As a friend, Bowman was the type to put her needs behind the needs of others. Her selflessness was a prevailing quality.

“I would call her at four in the morning, and she would answer on the phone. Whenever she wasn’t, you know, hurting or tired. [Bowman was] someone who would just uplift me in anything, regardless of if I was doing good or feeling bad. [Just] someone who truly cared about you. And just wanted the best for you even when she wasn’t feeling the best,” Tre’Jon Thomas, microbiology major and track and field athlete at ECC said.

This was a constant theme throughout her life, Bowman’s family said she had always been compassionate and altruistic even as a young child.

“I think at a young age, towards the end of her elementary years, she really understood her purpose in life. [She] was like a magnet to people,” Kevin Orange, Bowman’s stepfather said, “Because I used to tell her ‘how is it that people just always gravitate [to you]?’ She said, ‘I can’t help it dad they just love me.’ [It] was just something about her aura, she had a demeanor about her, [and] she cared about people,”

Hall said Bowman’s legacy will be of bravery, compassion and kindness. And for those who knew her, she will be remembered as “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

“I told [her that] I hope that my kids grow up to be like her. I hope that they have that love and that compassion, not just for sports, but just for humanity in general,” Hall said.

Friends and family are confident that Bowman will not be forgotten, and she will live on through the traits which she inspired in others.

“Her body won’t be here, but her spirit and her life will be here,” Orange said.