Our 2020 Scholarship Gold Winner - Karina, M. - University of Southern California - Read Essay »
What does it take to fight cancer?
My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2019, just six months after my dad passed away. This diagnosis turned my world upside down especially when the prognosis was very grim. My mom was always healthy and active and receiving this diagnosis was a complete shock to me.
I could not imagine life without her. What would happen to my little brother? Would I be able to finish college? Would she be there to watch me graduate from my dream university? It was all too much to take in at once and I just broke.
My mom always set an example as an independent woman with my father being in the U. S. Army, deployed twice, and as he lived separately from my family for eight years, she made remaining married and fighting for our family look easy. She remained strong through all of these challenges and was now presented with yet another hurdle.
I learned quickly that her treatments were harsh, grueling, and debilitating. Chemotherapy is never easy, but my mother's body reacted negatively to her first dose and was hospitalized shortly after. Her treatment had to be adjusted, and her oncologist was wary that a dose low enough for her body to tolerate might not be high enough to destroy cancer. Watching the one we love slowly fade away is one of the most gut-wrenching things you will ever have to witness.
I was mad at the world for being so unfair and kept asking why? Why her? She was the most loving person I have known throughout my whole life and I would not be the person I am today without her guidance and support. My mother noticed I wasn’t processing the diagnosis well and reminded me multiple times that I had to be strong. I was the only woman besides her in the family and it was time for me to step up. She looked at me directly in the eyes and said, “I’m staying strong for you, now I need you to stay strong for me.”
My mother is now halfway through her 7-month chemotherapy treatment and is physically fighting with all her strength. She has lost all her hair, but still manages to crack jokes to lighten up the mood in the hospital. Despite her physical and mental exhaustion, she is grateful to be alive and has shown me what it means to be in love with life.
I am completing a degree in social work and have decided to further my education into nursing school upon graduation. Thus, I have spent much time learning about the mental and physical challenges of a cancer diagnosis. My mother’s situation has made me realize that I want to help other families going through similar situations and a career in nursing would allow me to do that. She has helped me to stay motivated, despite everything else going on, and has pushed me to become a better student, a better daughter, and overall a better person.
So, all in all, what it takes to fight cancer? To fight cancer, it takes this amount of courage that my mom had to keep going, keep fighting and putting on that smile even in the toughest of times.
Karina, M. - University of Southern California
Our 2020 Scholarship Silver Winner - Martin, L. - University of Virginia - Read Essay »
What does it take to fight cancer?
At a fairly young age, when I was still a child, I watched my grandfather die a slow, increasingly agonizing and painful death from his lung cancer that had metastasized. The doctors tried, but nothing they had to offer could stop the metastasized cancer from taking over his entire body.
When my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer, I barely knew what cancer is. He had a nagging cough, nothing more, but I think he knew that there was something more serious going on with his body. Since he wasn’t a smoker, the doctors theorized that it may have come from his military service as a young man. Apparently back then, to limit the risk of fire, asbestos was applied to all materials used for the structure, machinery, and equipment of war naval ships. According to the doctors, my grandfather had the right age and enlistment window for this set of circumstances.
Given only a short amount of time left, my entire family surrounded my grandpa with a lot of love and compassion. Never before had I seen someone I cared so much for struggle and fight so hard just to live one more day. At such a young age, I was terrified to imagine life without someone who had been my hero for as long as I could remember. It hurt me to imagine him not being there at family gatherings, no longer taking me fishing, or being there in the crowd at my school events. This made me feel helpless, as neither I nor anyone else had any control over this unthinkable situation.
I still remember it as if it was yestarday, when my sister and I unexpectedly got called out of class early one day, we were confused about the reason. On the 60 mile ride to the hospital, my mom prepared us for what was fast approaching. Grandpa began having a hard time breathing and was rushed to the hospital. The chemo had worn a hole in his lung and we were going to say goodbye. Walking into the intensive care unit and seeing somebody you love lying there with tubes coming out of all areas of their body and attached to multiple machines in an overpowering feeling, one that I do not wish upon anybody. The absolute worst part of this disease is having to witness your loved ones who you always seen as strong, be so weak.
Unfortunately, after two months in the hospital, my grandfather passed away. Losing him at such a young age caused me to mature at a much faster rate than many of my peers. My grandpa fought all that he could, which raises the ultimate question: how does one fight cancer? I think one of the responses to that question is that it takes a substantial amount of support from family and friends. Even though my grandpa lost the physical battle with cancer, I believe that his emotional battle was conquered through the help of my mom and the surrounding family. Currently, I was accepted into business school at the university I have always aspired to attend. I know my grandpa would always encourage me to get an education and reach for the stars.
Martin L., - University of Virginia
Our 2020 Scholarship Bronze Winner - Sheila S. - Auburn University - Read Essay »
What does it take to fight cancer?
In August 2012, right before beginning my freshman year of high school, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer was not an easy thing to comprehend as a child.
Sitting in the hospital, I heard stories from friends about the art projects they created in school or the games that they played on the playground. Hearing these stories gave me a push to fight through my illness so that one day, I would be able to participate in similar ventures and have my own stories to tell. I needed to be able to have the strength to be able to persevere. Experiencing what it means to persevere as a young child showed me that no matter how hard life may get, I can always push through the hardest of things to reach to be able the light at the end of the tunnel.
My family had to travel 150 miles, about two and a half hours each way to my treating hospital. I was also inpatient at the hospital for over 90 days that first year. My mom had to take an unpaid leave of absence from her job to be with me and my dad traveled back and forth every three days to go into work. After completing several rounds of chemo, I then began the process of radiation. Radiation was by far the toughest on me. I got mouth sores so bad that I couldn't eat or talk. It took all I had to get through it.
Cancer not only acts as a permanent reminder we each owe a death but also a lingering threat to the one thing that humans treasure: life. Cancer is a glass barrier barring one from everything they love. There is an imminent fear that one day the glass will shatter and not only hurt you, but everyone else on the other side. To fight cancer, one needs strength, character, and defiance embodied in their soul and if I know one thing, it is this: the c-word in my life is not Cancer, it is Change.
Survivorship to me is something that no one can take for granted. Being known as a survivor is something that differentiates you from others. It is something special and shows how strong you are. This journey took me along a path with severe challenges and inspiring people; these challenges and the people who helped me overcome them made me stronger, pushed me to try new things, and encouraged me to discover more about myself.
What it takes to fight cancer to me is being determined and never giving up. I am now going on five years of being cancer-free and it is the best feeling in the world. I still continue to fight, I go do scans and check-ups every 6 months to a year. This year I plan on enrolling in my second year at Auburn University, AL. I know that completing my education would not only help me in obtaining my future career goals in the long run but would have made my family proud.
I would be so grateful for any scholarships to help me achieve my goal of getting a college education. My message of fighting on through a cancer diagnosis is to never give in or give up. Get your strength from your family, friends, and community that are fighting and praying right along with you. I have a long life to live and I intend to live it to the fullest.
Sheila S. - Auburn University
Why are we offering the scholarship to students affected by cancer?
We are aware of how profoundly a cancer diagnosis affects the family dynamics and the emotional well being of each family member. Everything changes in a family when someone gets a cancer diagnosis. Parents have to quit jobs and focus on treatment and the family's income decreases drastically. Our goal is to support a student with a family connection to cancer continue his/her education. For this reason, we have decided to offer a little help to young people who witnessed a loved one’s devastating struggle with cancer in order to ease at least their financial situation.
"Our firm founder's father suffered from an asbestos-related disease and many members of our staff share the traumatizing experience of standing by a family member who battled cancer."
Greg Cade current owner at Environmental Litigation Group P.C.
Awarded over $2.5 million in our asbestos scholarship fund
Our asbestos scholarship fund was established over 50 years ago with the purpose of providing financial help to children and grandchildren of our clients whose asbestos litigation cases had been settled. Over 160 students receiving the asbestos scholarships have attended 47 colleges and universities, including Auburn University, University of Alabama, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Stillman College, Spelman College, and University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). In 2005 we extended the eligibility requirements to include all students who have a family member diagnosed with cancer.
2021 scholarship application
All students must apply online ONLY by July 31, 2020, do NOT call or email, all applications are received online through the form below. The winners will be notified by the end of August 2021 and their essays will also be published on this page.