2022 Scholarship Program

Due to the impact that Covid-19 had on our business, the scholarship program for 2022 has been canceled.

Our 2021 Scholarship Gold Winner - Liz M. - University of Southern California - Read Essay »

What does it take to fight cancer?

My relationship with my grandmother is somehow special. I'm sure we all love our kind grandmothers, but I cannot put into words how much I love this woman. My parents were almost absent from my upbringing since they were busy with work and providing my two siblings and me with everything we needed.

Still, they were so focused on the material needs of our family that they overlooked something fundamental. I felt so so lucky to have my grandmother living with us and filling in the role of the parent figure. She was strong and confident, but at the same time, very kind and empathetic. She knew when to be there for me. I remember being quite troublesome for my parents as a teenager because I felt pretty frustrated with their lack of understanding. At 16, when I came out of the closet, I felt rejected by my father's disappointed look. But my grandma showered me with unconditional love and tried to be like a bridge between the people who gave me biological life and me.

I never felt close to my family the way my peers do, except to my grandmother. I could never imagine my life in that type of "movie family scenario" where all the members are supportive of each other, and the time spent together is so precious. Not to talk about imagining family vacations, Christmas presents, or ideal stuff like that. So it was not so hard for me to go far away to college and mind my own business.

The day my mother called me to let me know about my grandmother's diagnosis plays so vividly in my head even today. It happened two years ago, and it was the first time I heard my mom crying so painfully on the phone. I listened to the word "ovarian cancer" and immediately thought of death and how I could not stand to lose the only person in my life that truly loves me unconditionally. I panicked, packed up a few things, and took the train back home right away. I couldn't stop thinking about how time is running out for her and how I must be there for her the way she always did for me.

But strong as she is, when I got home, my grandmother begged me to go back and continue my studies. She wanted to assure me that everything will turn out okay and that she would fight this cancer with all her bravery. Ovarian cancer it's a known "silent killer" because it can grow undetected in the body for long periods. My grandma was lucky enough to discover her cancer in time, but her reassuring that everything will turn out fine was not credible at first. How would it be? I heard of so many cancer cases around me and in the media, but I always thought it could not happen to my family or me. For me seeing someone fighting cancer was not an experience I could connect to directly and personally. But seeing my grandmother holding her head up while battling such a monstrous disease was incommensurably painful.

For the first time in my life, I witnessed my family changing for the better. The pain was the engine that started the changes, and compassion, love, the hope of a successful cancer battle, and forgiveness were the elements that gave shape to these changes. My family had something in common to share and learned to work together for that experience we had to go through together. My grandmother was always emotionally generous with each of us, so now we wanted to return her all that support and love we were capable of offering. My cold parents transformed into vulnerable, kind human beings who would help my grandmother choose her cute wig when she lost all her honey-colored hair. My siblings would visit her at the hospital, and they would play movies on the phone for her to keep her smiling.

She has been my hero as a little girl, and she continues to be my hero and my inspiration to the present day. For the sake of everything she taught me, I want to contribute in the best way I can to helping cancer patients, and I am sure that would make my grandma proud of me. Fighting cancer takes a lot of emotional strength, family support, and resilience. Even with that, you can never guess the battle's outcome, which makes it even more mentally challenging and stressful because we are never ready to lose someone. I am confident I can be a great therapist and act as a pillar for those in need of emotional support, just like my grandmother was an emotional bridge for me, and just like my family came together to become a support structure in times of need.

Liz, M. - University of Southern California


Our 2021 Scholarship Silver Winner - Mark L. - Boston University - Read Essay »

What does it take to fight cancer?

1.9 million cancer cases are estimated for 2021, according to the American Cancer Society, and the number of those who won't survive the battle is estimated somewhere near 608,570 cancer deaths. I always loved science, and the way predictions are made using the statistics from the precedent years, but these statistics never affected me on a personal level.

We are getting used to seeing COVID case numbers and death numbers in the news daily, and it just feels like a faraway reality until it hits us personally. Just like that, I was used to seeing cancer cases as numbers and not being profoundly hurt by them.

As for the present, my perception of these statistics has wholly changed. I can be more empathetic now because the fight for survival is part of my life. My father, diagnosed with lung cancer, managed to survive three years with such a horrific disease. He used to work as a Firefighter, and I admired him for that. But due to his unfortunate diagnosis, his solid and steady figure started to wither slowly in the last years of his life.

Seeing him change because of his suffering was the most challenging part to endure for our family and me. He was always a cheerful person, contrary to what people would expect from an active firefighter. I mean, his work was not easy at all. This job always threatened his safety. He would often come back home with injuries, and my mother repeatedly tried to convince him to change his career or take on some office job. Of course, he would smile and confidently say that his job will not kill him.

Being in this field was not reasonably safe for his mental health as well. He often needed therapy and medication to fight his nightmares and depressive episodes. Seeing people losing their life is not something that will leave you undisturbed, and he knew that better than us. Knowing the hardships he's been through at his job, my respect and affection for him grew day by day and filled my heart because he still appeared strong and held his head high in front of us. He was always joking around and would thoroughly enjoy the time spent with us. He had no destructive coping behaviors like smoking, drinking, or gambling.

The more our family loved and cherished him, the more wrecking the news of his diagnosis was for us. Our life as a family changed on so many levels that sad year, from my father's therapy and examinations to the sadness in everyone's eyes, medical expenses, other people's pitty, my father's feelings of becoming weaker and incapable, and my mother's tears and hardships to put on a brave face.

Forced to grow up faster, I took on more responsibilities than I could normally handle. I found a part-time job and tried my best to support my parents emotionally, while I also felt very discouraged. But I never felt like the sacrifice I had to make was unfair, nor I felt that my right to express my pain was taken away from me because I had to act strong for my family's sake. No resentments are left since you need a lot of love and patience to fight cancer. When you love the one truly battling cancer, you want to be there for them no matter how hard that can be on you. Their pain becomes yours, and you hope to ease all that suffering just a little bit for them by being there to shoulder the burden together. When seeing my dad bedridden and coughing his lungs out, I often felt that if possible, I would even give him some years of my life to see him healthy and joyful a little more. My desire to help him in any way I could was so intense, even though I was aware that we are limited in what we can do to help in situations like this. Being selfless is required when supporting someone who struggles between life and death, but it is not sufficient to change the outcome of the battle.

Keeping yourself together also feels necessary in this fight because if you can't make significant changes in the other person's cancer, you can at least give them kind and comforting words, emotional support, courage to keep fighting, and a shoulder to cry on. For all that, you need to be almost as strong as the one battling cancer personally.

Cancer, not as case numbers, but as an experience developing before your very eyes, is a shared battle for survival. My father's struggle for survival inspired me to fight for the survival of his memory in my family and in my life and study to become a doctor.

Mark, L. – Boston University

Our 2021 Scholarship Bronze Winner - David Y. – University of West Alabama - Read Essay »

What does it take to fight cancer?

Every story I see about cancer has a kind of positive tone, about hope and faith, and things like this. I’m not saying these are not what we need to fight cancer, no. I can perfectly understand why everyone is talking about hope, courage, and positivity because cancer is so hard to comprehend and accept when it happens to you or your dear ones. Cancer feels so tightly connected to death that it’s so scary people would probably lose their sanity if they were not capable of hoping for a positive outcome.

So I am not trying to say a positive attitude is unnecessary for dealing and coping with a cancer diagnosis. I want to say that I feel people do not like to talk about the negative aspects of cancer, and that part can constitute a valuable lesson. At least, that is how it happened in my extended family when my aunt got diagnosed with skin cancer. Everyone was so uncomfortable talking about her suffering, which I believe just made my aunt feel constrained to put on a brave face.

My aunt’s family had always been working at their farm, so the constant exposure to the sun might have been an important risk factor contributing to her skin cancer. My aunt was a healthy, beautiful woman. On the left side, she had a mole near her upper lip, what people would call a “beauty spot,” and she was always praised for her vibe and appearance. My extended family would compliment her often, talk about her beauty in her absence, and take pride in introducing her to people outside of the family.

But what was once a reason of pride for my extended family soon became the reason they started avoiding my aunt and making a stigma out of her cancer. My aunt’s mole started to get bigger and change, affecting not only her health but also her perception of self, confidence, and others’ perception of her. I can only imagine how difficult it can be to feel down about your appearance when your life is in shambles because I was always close to my aunt, so she conveyed these feelings to me. Maybe you wouldn’t think that someone cares about their “beauty” when dealing with cancer since this diagnosis is often considered a death sentence. But because you become so emotionally vulnerable and your body goes through so many changes, it’s impossible not to be affected by the way you start to see yourself.

My aunt also felt that because of her not being considered beautiful anymore since her skin cancer started to spread on her face, she was the one to feel guilty for my family members avoiding her. It made me so angry, and I still remember that range. When she needed these people the most, they just left her alone because they were more concerned about not feeling comfortable around a person with skin cancer. How could they do that? And what’s more, my emotionally vulnerable aunt blamed herself for how she looked. Being isolated and stigmatized is one grim aspect of having cancer that is not sufficiently discussed.

Some of the family members tried to stay positive and not mind her appearance, knowing that she is beautiful as a whole, but that was not sufficient to balance her moods and perception of self. Being socialized in her gender role as a woman and being praised for the way she looked all her life, coping with skin cancer was a big shock for my aunt. She couldn’t feel there was anything left out of her to feel good about, so there were times when she felt a great sense of nothingness. At those times, I thought she wouldn’t mind dying. Fighting cancer takes a lot of mental energy and resilience. It takes a lot of self-love, a strong social connection, and feeling part of a small community. Unfortunately, not everyone has the support needed to not lose themselves in this fierce cancer battle.

The less positive aspects of my aunt’s cancer were the experiences that drove me to study the socio-environmental causes of cancer and raise awareness on the issues those diagnosed with cancer experience.

David Y. – University of West Alabama


$5,000

The winner will receive funds from our asbestos scholarship fund to help them as financial aid.

$3,000

The winner will receive funds from our asbestos scholarship fund to help them as financial aid.

$2,000

The winner will receive funds from our asbestos scholarship fund to help them as financial aid.

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.

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