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Our 2018 Scholarship Program


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Our 2017 Scholarship Gold Winner - Olivia B., University of Alabama Tuscaloosa - Read Essay »

What Does it Take to Fight Cancer?

For most people, the word "cancer" is synonymous with endless hospital visits, excruciating chemotherapy sessions, taunting hair loss and ultimately a death sentence. But what people don't know is that cancer is, in fact, a condition bursting with life. Yes, you've read well, life. But how could this terrifying disease that scares even medical professionals resonate with life? In fact, it's quite simple. Cancer is a wake-up call. It shocks you, makes you revolt against the diagnosis, horrifies you, puts you through hell, makes you cry and feel miserable. But in the end, it forces you to reconsider your point of view by making you fight to your last breath for every hour, every day, every month, for every drop of life the cancer is trying to squeeze out of you.

And I'm not just saying that to theorize over the dreadful condition, I know this from personal experience. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago. About a week before the diagnosis, I was in the shower when I felt a lump in my left breast. It only hurt if I touched the swallowed area, but that didn't seem right so I went to see the local physician. She took a screening of the breast and discovered a small malign cancerous tumor. The news came like a bomb exploding in my head, especially since I've been healthy my whole life. I was lucky though. The tumor was discovered in an early stage and it could easily be extricated.

I now live to tell the story of a cancer survivor. Cancer shouldn't be about death. Cancer is about life and survival, about courage, resilience, help, and support. Cancer is just a condition! It shouldn't stop you from living your life to the fullest!

Olivia B., University of Alabama Tuscaloosa

Our 2017 Scholarship Silver Winner - Ethan G., University Texas San Antonio - Read Essay »

What Does it Take to Fight Cancer?

Cancer is a condition that involves a lot of heartache and suffering. It affects not only your life but also the lives of others near you. It depletes you of energy, shocks you to the core, and reaches out to you in ways you didn't even know it could.

In order to be able to fight cancer's ferocious symptoms and make cancer therapy more bearable, patients need all the help and support of a loving family and the best possible team of doctors devoted to beating cancer.

Having family members by your side when you are in pain is one of the most, if not the most important thing for a cancer patient. The family is a shoulder to cry on and a hand to lean on in a time when you are distressed and you need comforting. Without family, you would feel a lot more miserable.

Medical help is also extremely important in the fight against cancer. Doctors are specialized in finding the most efficient and comfortable treatments to suit your needs. They work hard to figure out a treatment plan for you and stay up late at night trying to figure out the most appropriate procedures and surgeries for your condition. They are committed to making your life better and increase your survival rates.

My mother passed away in the fall of 2013 from liver cancer after she struggled for years to beat the terrible symptoms. She had a whole lot of faith, but she gradually lost her strength, as her body began to give in to the expanding tumor. Seeing her like that was one of the worst experiences in my life and made me realize that medicine can only help so much, but is the help of support of family that pulls a cancer patient through.

Ethan G., University Texas San Antonio

Our 2017 Scholarship Bronze Winner - Brian W., Central Washington University - Read Essay »

What Does it Take to Fight Cancer?

One of the most important things in the battle against cancer is overcoming the fear, shock, and panic that such a diagnosis brings to a person and accepting the condition in relation to one's own capacity, and not to one's own mortality. It takes a lot of courage and strenght to fight against cancer, and sometimes the hardest battle you have to take is the one with yourself.

Medical treatment is another essential thing in the fight against cancer. If the condition is diagnosed early, the growth of tumors can be stopped and the spreading of malign cancer cells can be prevented. If the condition is diagnosed on a later stage, not much can be done for the patient but comforting his or her pain and attempting to control the almost unstoppable development of the cancer's malign tumor.

The unconditional support and attention of the family members and friends can also help with the person's psychological comfort. Having someone watching over you during your hospital visits, waiting for you and comforting you after what felt like never-ending chemotherapy sessions, and bringing you your favourite cooked dishes when you are finally strong enough to eat something is essential for the patient's well being.

Last year, my grandfather died of lung cancer. He was diagnosed on a later stage and there was not much that the doctors could do about it but comfort his pain. The moment his team of doctors gave us the tragic news that the cancer is too advanced to be treated was the moment I realised the importance of education in fighting cancer. Had my grandfather known more about cancer, maybe he wouldn't have mistaken his chest pains and severe coughing with the nasty side effects of his beloved cigars and maybe he would still be alive today.

Brian W., Central Washington University

We also are considering these applicants automatically in our 2018 scholarship due to their unique ideas in their essays:

Abigail C. - Michigan State University - Read Essay »

The thing about cancer is it not only affects you, it affects everyone in your life, and that impact resonates in those surrounding you catalyzing in them contemplation of their own mortality. When my mother was my age, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As per her recollection, she was sitting in class her senior year and looking for a way to get out of class when she felt a lump on her chest and requested to visit the nurse's office. The nurse instructed her to visit a physician, as, the lump was an abnormality. Fast forward and she is in a fight for her life at a stage in her life where the most concerning thing she should be having to fight for is a decent price on a prom dress. Being 18, it's impossible for me to even imagine the emotional toll that diagnosis took on her, the immediate thought being "How long do I have?" or "Will I live to graduate?", but after a thyroid removal surgery she has been NEC ever since having to still undergo sporadic screenings. What it takes to fight cancer is unfathomable courage, as, cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence or a roadblock, but a fight you must be determined to win. Although I did not witness my mom's battle with cancer, I am a result of her win, as are my siblings, as is my moms carefree wisdom and stoicism. My entire life I have feared that the cancer that left her taking medication that acts as her thyroid would attack me too, but my fears are lessened substantially because I know for a certainty that should I be affected by mutated cells shutting down my body my mom would act as a pillar, supporting me and understanding my exact feelings and situation. My grandmothers on both sides of my family were affected my cancer as well. My grandmother on my dad's side of the family by mouth cancer, now unable to eat spicy food but left with the strength and fortitude to undergo her second back surgery after an accident that left her with a broken back and less able to care for my grandpa, a Vietnam veteran who suffered a war injury and PTSD. My grandmother on my mother's side of the family was not lucky enough to receive competent help from medical professionals, misdiagnosed with back pain while her body was fighting non-hodgkin lymphoma. There is a terrifying phenomenon that plagues women of all ages. The antiquated perception of women as over-dramatic leads to misdiagnosis and horrifyingly, death. My Nana started experiencing muscle pain when I was in kindergarten, bullied by my peers, she was my best friend and biggest supporter, and I her "little dumpling." At the time I couldn't possibly understand what was occurring, all I knew was she was in pain and it devastated me. She was told by her doctor to work out, that the pain was merely a pulled muscle. She worked so hard to feel better, when she should have been resting and receiving the care she so desperately needed and deserved. By the time a proper diagnosis was reached it was too late, her treatable cancer had progressed and run rampant ravaging her body because of a sexist medical "professional". She fought to her last breath, her courage resounding despite the odds she never gave in. I live knowing that she never got to see me get my braces off, walk across the stage at graduation, and will never get to see me grow to be someone she can be proud of. It's haunting. But, I live knowing that by telling her story I continue her fight and beg women to question their diagnosis, medical professionals can show unprofessionalism. By telling her story I shout resoundingly that cancer won't win, for, even after a loved one's battle is over their loved ones fight on, spreading knowledge, support, and solidarity. This is what it takes to fight cancer.

Adriana T. - University of California - Riverside - Read Essay »

In order to fight cancer, having a supportive family who cares for you is the most important part. My uncle died from lung cancer on August 5, 2011. He was sick for 2 weeks straight and refused to go to the hospital or even to a doctor because he insisted that it was just a cold and it would go away soon. When he did finally go to the hospital, they diagnosed him with stage 4 lung cancer. It was already at the final stage, which meant it was too late for him to have a high chance of survival. The biggest regret I had was not forcing him to go to the doctor's sooner. I may have only been 10 years old when he was diagnosed, but I understood a lot more than a 10 year old should have. In order to truly fight, you must have a family or a group of friends by your side to stick with you until the end. If you're alone, it's harder to have the will to survive through the pain. Truthfully, fighting cancer isn't an easy thing to do. I will never understand what it feels like to be diagnosed with cancer and hopefully I never will, but going through all of the chemotherapy appointments with my uncle made me extremely emotional. I was scared he could die any day, at any moment. I prayed for him everyday and on the day news broke out that he had died, my mom had a dream that morning that God sent her a message that her brother had died that day. Not even a couple hours later, my mom received a phone call to confirm her dream. As I realized what was going on, once my dad said the words, "your uncle just passed away," I turned and shoved my face into my pillow and cried. The way to really fight cancer, is to be able to create good memories with your loved ones and if you survive through the love you were given, you are a miracle.

Alex V. - Utah Valley University - Read Essay »

Cancer is not only an ugly disease, but one that has very much affected my life tremendously. Throughout my life, I have heard of terrible stories involving cancer and the awful battles it puts each person through. Knowing these tragedies and actually seeing them first hand are too different things I've come to realize. My grandpa was named Lester Valencia. He was my grandfather on my dad's side and my biggest role model in life. Grandpa Lester was the most kind hearted, loving, and self motivated person I have ever met. He grew up with basically nothing. No family or siblings and lived with his grandfather in a little shack in West Point, Utah. He was apart of the military and served in the Vietnam War. He married my grandmother, and later had two sons, one of which was my father. They grew up in a very poor household but my grandpa worked several jobs just to keep food on the table and clothes on their back. He never complained about their style of life just continued to keep working harder to make ends meet. Something I will never forget my grandpa teaching my father, whom then taught to me was that you don't need money to buy you eternal happiness. He had everything he ever wanted which was a loving family. He also created our family motto of "Valencia's never give up!" My family is very athletically gifted and has a wide variety of talents, but that doesn't mean that things never got tough. When the going got tough, we got tougher. I was taught from a young age you work for what you want and you never stop until you get it. Because of this, I was a very successful athlete myself. I was a First Team All State softball player all throughout high school at Syracuse High, and also selected as the All Area MVP for 5A softball my senior year. I was committed to play softball at Salt Lake Community College where I just finished my sophomore season. I was named First Team All Region, First Team All Tournament Team in the National Tournament, and also First Team All American. Even after achieving all this success, I have never felt as though it was enough because you can never get complacent, and there is always more you can do. My grandpa was also my number one fan and never missed a game. He would cheer my name as loud as he could just so I would know he was there, and trust me you couldn't miss him. To say the least, my grandpa was the glue that held our family together. He made sure everyone and everything was always taken care of. Until the month of July 2015 when things just weren't the same with him. He was losing massive amounts of weight and was tired all the time. He just wasn't acting himself so he went to the hospital to find out what was really going on. I will never forget the phone call that I received at a softball game saying my grandpa had Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer on July 24, 2015. I remember it like it was yesterday. All of our family rushed to the hospital to see what was going on and the doctors informed us he had about 3 weeks to live at the most. This was absolutely devastating to my family and I. But my grandpa reassured the doctors otherwise. He told us that he would fight this battle until his very last breath and that is exactly what he did. As my family prepared for this death of our very beloved grandfather, he was out to prove us all wrong and show he could fight this thing. The doctors had told him he could do chemo treatments but his success rates would be very low and it could kill him before it helped him. Grandpa Lester insisted that he try and before we know it he had lived well past his three week point. He made it month after month never giving up and always reassuring everyone that he was just fine. My grandfather went through chemo therapy for over a year and reduced his tumor size tremendously. He proved every doctor who didn't believe in him wrong and truly defied the odds. Lester Valencia fought off pancreatic cancer for over a year and a half. He was expected to live three weeks after is diagnostic date. He died on April 8, 2017 in his home surrounded by all of his family, and he wouldn't have had it any other way. This death has been by far the hardest thing I have ever had to cope with. He was such a huge part of my life, and still will be. Even though death is so hard on a family, I actually learned something so valuable and that I can use in my everyday life which is perseverance. You can do anything your mind wants to, literally. My grandpa was only supposed to live three weeks and ended up completing chemo treatments and living a year and a half at the age of 68. Even when you think you don't have any more left to give, you truly do. Death is never easy especially with a cancer related death because you have to watch them wither away to skin and bones but I truly believe that God gives his strongest soldiers his toughest battles. I hope that because of my grandpa, doctors can use his test results to eventually find a cure to help save someone else's life because that is exactly what my grandpa would have wanted; to help take care of someone else because he will be just fine.

Alexandra D. - Michigan State University - Read Essay »

What it Takes to Fight Cancer When I was only 14 years old, my grandpa, the man I looked up to more than anyone else I knew, was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic and Esophageal Cancer. He was a healthy man his whole life up until this point and he had never smoked or drank, so it was a huge question to his physicians as to why he was being affected by these types of cancer, as they primarily affect heavy smokers and drinkers. He fought and battled the cancer for a long eight months before it finally won the battle against him. He in fact did not pass away from the cancer, but instead a closed head injury brought upon by the chemotherapy being used to treat his cancer. Being the helpful, selfless man he was, he was carrying groceries in for my grandma and fell walking up the steps because he was so weak. He died from helping the woman he loved most and my whole family sees that as something special because we all agree he wouldn't have wanted to go any other way. With that being said, it takes being happy, having compassion, and having courage to fight cancer and my grandpa displayed all three of these traits during his eight month long battle. My grandpa knew he was going to eventually die from the day he was diagnosed as the physicians said the prognosis wasn't good, but that didn't stop him from finding ways to be happy and carry on. He would get out of bed each day and smile because he was still alive, so it was a great reason to be happy. He didn't stop doing things just because he was terminally ill because if he would have, it would have made him depressed, whereas staying busy kept him happy. If my family had one final chance to ask him, I'm sure he would have been content with how he went on to live his life in his final eight months. I truly learned from my grandpa that no matter how hard the battle may be, never stop smiling because everyday there are a million reasons to smile and it is up to yourself to make those situations that bad to where your smile is taken away. I saw compassion shine through during my grandpa's battle with cancer because he didn't want our family members lives to be put on hold because of his illness. He was always very unselfish and felt if he wasn't able to do something, he wasn't going to stop us from doing it too. He didn't want the family to always have to be around caring for him because he was still independent and that wasn't the type of person he was. A time I really remember him showing compassion was when we would go out for our weekly dinner with our grandparents. There was one night when my grandpa was feeling the side effects from the chemotherapy and knew he was too sick to go to dinner. Instead of having my grandma stay home with him or telling us to cancel, he told my grandma to go out and enjoy herself because she deserved and break and he could take care of himself this time. Not only did he die having compassion for my grandma, but he also had it for the other members of the family. By the compassion my grandpa had, I hope to live my life as completely unselfish as he was during his battle with Stage IV cancer. Hearing the words "Im sorry, but you have cancer" was the most frightening sentence of not only my grandpa's life, but everyone in our family. Although that was a frightening sentence, my grandpa had the courage to fight in this scary situation. He found ability to fight with strength even though he was completely terrified of all he was about to endure. The battle was tough and it showed in his face, but it didn't stop him from doing things he did every day before he was diagnosed. He still went to his grandchildren's sporting events, went for walks at the zoo with my grandma, and even made one final trip to Florida to see family there. He could have easily laid in bed all day, every day during his battle, but that would have made his battle harder to endure, so he went out and had the courage to do things that need to be done in every day life. No matter what, friends and family were always finding ways to keep him busy as long as he continued to enjoy being with others. Having courage is where I learned the most from my grandpa because if I would have been in his position, I would have been too depressed to do some things knowing it would be my last time, but that wasn't the case for him and I am forever proud of him for that. Cancer takes the lives of millions of people each year and leaves families lost and broken, so continuing on with research for it is so important so that a cure can be found and it can be put to an end, so there is no more suffering. I just imagine how great this world would be without cancer because there would be nobody in the same position as my grandpa and nobody would be put through so much pain just to find out they'll never be cured and eventually they'll lose their life from this disease. I hope I am alive to see the day a cure is found because so many people will get to continue living their lives happily. After seeing my grandpa fight, I really see how tough cancer is but I believe people can fight it for as long as they want. They can set a goal for themselves and they will live until that goal has been accomplished and I believe that is really something special. Overall, after experiencing my grandpa's battle, I realize that happiness, compassion, and courage are really needed to fight a battle with cancer. Being happy helps the soul, where being sad would just let the disease take over your body much faster. Having compassion is so important because you can't control that you have cancer, so don't take it out on your family members. While having the courage to carry on is most important during a battle because getting up and living each day to the fullest extent takes a lot, but makes the fight that much more worth it.

Alexis W. - University of houston Victoria - Read Essay »

Growing up with a single mother and my older sister, life wasn't always easy. Many people in my family has been affected by Cancer. My father left our household when I was at a young age so I never really had much male influences in my life like I should have. The men I've looked up to as my father figure was my Grandpa on my father's side and my uncle Harry on my mom's side. Those two men always taught me valuable life lessons and helped me understand the importance of life and how things doesn't always come easy. When I was about maybe 14 years old, my uncle was diagnosed with stage 3 Colon cancer. When I found out, it really changed my outlook on life because I never want to lose anyone close to me. As the cancer started to progress, the weaker my uncle got and we were always in and out of hospitals. My family and I would drive to San Antonio every weekend to go visit and check up on him to make sure he was feeling alright. Cancer has affected my life in so many ways. I have other family members that have been affected as well and how cancer and also heart disease runs in my family. Ever since my uncle died, I never forgave myself because at a young age, I just wanted to do everything that was right for my family. I never wanted to see him lying on that hospital bed fighting for his life. I remember one day that as we were sitting in the hospital room, the doctors asked the family to figure out the next steps because the cancer was spreading and it was about time to either let him be a vegetable as they say or to pull the plug. Of course, pulling a plug on a family member is not an easy decision that anyone could ever make. My family had debates about it and how we rather would just not let him die in pain but at peace. We no longer wanted him to suffer any longer than he had too. My uncle knew it was his time to head home which is what we call Heaven. He made sure his wife and family was set and that we should never cry over this and how we should come to terms with this. I never fully accepted the fact that one of the people I was closest too was battling cancer. It turned my world upside down at such a young age. My uncle dying put me in a sad mood for a while. I remember hearing the shots the military did at his funeral. As they fired off the shots, tears streamed down my eyes because my heart couldn't take anymore of this heartbreak. The military presented our family with the American flag folded and as we all said our final remarks, it started to sink in that he was taken away from me forever because of this horrible disease. I hope one day we could find a cure for all cancer so that way no one has to suffer the heartache I suffered when my uncle passed away. I think education is important when it comes to fighting cancer because it's important to know all the risks that we decided to take on when finding out our loved one has cancer. We should know some background about if for ourselves if the doctors decide they feel the need to not inform us on anything so we need to inform ourselves. Nothing can prepare you for dealing with a loved one battling cancer but the tools that helped me along the way to fight cancer was to have faith, keep praying about it and always keeping my head up and believing that everything happens for a reason even if it's not what we want.

Alice R. - University of Southern California - Read Essay »

At the age of ten, I was hesitant to live with my mother when she and my father split up, since I had always been closer to him. Her impact, however, proved no less profound. My mother taught me what it meant to be strong. She taught me that I cannot give up just because life gets difficult and complicated. When my parents divorced, my mother began working two jobs in order to support the family and save for my brother's college tuition. Everyday she would come home exhausted from her job as a waitress. She would always tell my brother and I that she did not want a life like this for either of us. This drove me to try hard in school and take challenging classes in order to pursue a higher education at a reputable university. The November of my senior year, while most teenagers my age were worried about college acceptances or graduating high-school, I was worried about my mother surviving. My my mother had been diagnosed with a pancreatic tumor, that fall. One moment my mother believed she was fine and the next moment the doctor was telling her she had cancer. During the month of December, I spent my days visiting my mother in the hospital after her surgeries. I spent both Christmas and New Years with her, wishing she would get better. Knowing my mother had a life threatening illness was tough on me, so I can't imagine the toll it had on her going through multiple surgeries and months of chemo, knowing that there was no guarantee her cancer would go away. So what do I think it takes for a person to battle cancer? Strength, hope, the will to get better, and faith. My mother who came to the U.S. at the age of nineteen not knowing a word of English, and knowing the hardships and struggles that she would face, both in crossing the border and in living in the United States, who decided to come anyways, is the strongest person I know. My mother has gone through a lot of trouble to provide a better future for both my brother and me. I know that we are her biggest concern, her will to live. She wanted to beat cancer because she wants to see us grow, graduate college, and see us navigate through life. Hope and faith are possibly the two most important factors, that a person needs to not give up the battle against cancer. Once a person loses faith that they will get better their body will give up too. I never saw my mother give up hope that she would be cured. I precisely remember one occasion where she asked me to accompany her to her oncologist to get the results of her scan. This was a few months after she had finished her surgery and the scan did not show any signs of the cancer returning. I remember her asking the oncologist if he could remove her port now. He claimed that he did not recommend removing it at that time and that she should wait at least 18 months to make sure the cancer did not return (once you remove a port surgically, it is extremely hard to place back in). I remember her telling the doctor that she was confident that the cancer would not come back and she did not want to wait to remove it. I told her that she should listen to the doctor and wait a few more months. At the time, I thought she was being stubborn, but now I see that she just had so much faith that she would get better. My mother was able to get her port removed two weeks ago. I was able to go with her to hear the results of her latest scans and their was no sign of the cancer returning. She still gets nervous every time that she has to go get a new scan, but as of now she has beaten cancer. I know the toll that cancer has on a person's physical and mental health, and it's shocking to think that less than a year ago my mother was still undergoing chemo and was unable to work. I know that it takes such a strong and determined person to fight cancer. Throughout my 18 years, I have known many people who have been affected with cancer and I certainly can not imagine a life without these people, especially my mother. Seeing my mother go through various surgeries and months of chemo, has influenced me to want to save lives and help others suffering from the same illness. Her experience further encouraged me to pursue my dream of studying to become a physician to be able to treat others who are diagnosed with cancer. At the age of ten, I was hesitant to live with my mother when she and my father split up, since I had always been closer to him. Her impact, however, proved no less profound. My mother taught me what it meant to be strong. She taught me that I cannot give up just because life gets difficult and complicated. When my parents divorced, my mother began working two jobs in order to support the family and save for my brother's college tuition. Everyday she would come home exhausted from her job as a waitress. She would always tell my brother and I that she did not want a life like this for either of us. This drove me to try hard in school and take challenging classes in order to pursue a higher education at a reputable university. The November of my senior year, while most teenagers my age were worried about college acceptances or graduating high-school, I was worried about my mother surviving. My my mother had been diagnosed with a pancreatic tumor, that fall. One moment my mother believed she was fine and the next moment the doctor was telling her she had cancer. During the month of December, I spent my days visiting my mother in the hospital after her surgeries. I spent both Christmas and New Years with her, wishing she would get better. Knowing my mother had a life threatening illness was tough on me, so I can't imagine the toll it had on her going through multiple surgeries and months of chemo, knowing that there was no guarantee her cancer would go away. So what do I think it takes for a person to battle cancer? Strength, hope, the will to get better, and faith. My mother who came to the U.S. at the age of nineteen not knowing a word of English, and knowing the hardships and struggles that she would face, both in crossing the border and in living in the United States, who decided to come anyways, is the strongest person I know. My mother has gone through a lot of trouble to provide a better future for both my brother and me. I know that we are her biggest concern, her will to live. She wanted to beat cancer because she wants to see us grow, graduate college, and see us navigate through life. Hope and faith are possibly the two most important factors, that a person needs to not give up the battle against cancer. Once a person loses faith that they will get better their body will give up too. I never saw my mother give up hope that she would be cured. I precisely remember one occasion where she asked me to accompany her to her oncologist to get the results of her scan. This was a few months after she had finished her surgery and the scan did not show any signs of the cancer returning. I remember her asking the oncologist if he could remove her port now. He claimed that he did not recommend removing it at that time and that she should wait at least 18 months to make sure the cancer did not return (once you remove a port surgically, it is extremely hard to place back in). I remember her telling the doctor that she was confident that the cancer would not come back and she did not want to wait to remove it. I told her that she should listen to the doctor and wait a few more months. At the time, I thought she was being stubborn, but now I see that she just had so much faith that she would get better. My mother was able to get her port removed two weeks ago. I was able to go with her to hear the results of her latest scans and their was no sign of the cancer returning. She still gets nervous every time that she has to go get a new scan, but as of now she has beaten cancer. I know the toll that cancer has on a person's physical and mental health, and it's shocking to think that less than a year ago my mother was still undergoing chemo and was unable to work. I know that it takes such a strong and determined person to fight cancer. Throughout my 18 years, I have known many people who have been affected with cancer and I certainly can not imagine a life without these people, especially my mother. Seeing my mother go through various surgeries and months of chemo, has influenced me to want to save lives and help others suffering from the same illness. Her experience further encouraged me to pursue my dream of studying to become a physician to be able to treat others who are diagnosed with cancer. Picture of my mom turning my tassle at graduation https//www.dropbox.com/s/d296zantg9fy1q1/IMG_3493.JPG?dl=0 Picture of my mom visiting me at school https//www.dropbox.com/s/lrkhavnonf44kyq/FullSizeRender.jpg?dl=0

Amanda G. - South University - Read Essay »

To fight cancer, you need five things. Courage. Strength. Family. Support. Love. Cancer runs on both sides of my family. Most did not survive; and a couple are in remission. However, the most significant cancer story is that of my Aunt. My mother's sister. Her death still affects my family to this day. It impacted the family as a whole, as well as her friends. My mother was affected, deeply. My mother suffers from depression. When my Aunt died, from cervical cancer, my mother plummeted deeper. My mother was one of many siblings to watch my Aunt on a daily basis. The way her life changed. The way her energy depleted. As my aunt got worse, so did my mother. I had to watch her cry, and fall deeper into her depression. I tried helping as much as I could, but felt helpless myself. My mother was lost. I was lost. My mother attended some therapy classes, to help her cope. Her therapist told her to write everything down. To this day, she will write a passage for my Aunt. Her sister. She tells her about her day, no matter how good, or bad. She tells her what is going on with her sons. Even though we know she is looking down on them. She tells her how much she misses her; and wishes she was still with us. My mother even writes poems. This helps her a lot, but I still see that she is in pain. I see how her eyes water, when anyone mentions my Aunt. Even to ask how her grandkids are doing. All I can do is support her; and continue to love her. We talk about my Aunt from time to time, but I know nothing can replace the hole of a missing sibling. My Aunt was a fighter to the end. She refused to let cancer beat her; and lived her life the best she could. She was one of the most courageous and strong person(s) I knew. She would always make us laugh. The day she passed, I had to attend a Relay for Life walk that evening. It was hard to do, but I felt her (and my cousin - died from leukemia) with me the entire way. I dedicate my walks to them every year. When we attended her funeral, it was sad. Although, I did not cry. I smiled. I knew she was at peace. I was at peace. She was in a better place, without pain. I know she is looking down on us. To fight cancer, it takes courage, strength, family, love, and support. Medicine can only help so much, but can make the patient comfortable. It takes laughter, saddness, isolation, redemption, and acceptance. Cancer is a global issue, and may get worse. If everyone does their part, we may be able to beat it in the future. Cancer affects so many lives, even if we do not know it. A lot suffer in silence, but many have a system in place. Whether it be getting treatments from an institution, watching stand-up comedy, or sharing their stories. There are many strong, courageous, people out there trying to live their lives to the fullest.

Angela S. - Seattle University School of Law - Read Essay »

Throughout my life, I have found that the meanings of many words have changed and continue to do so as I get older. The words "bravery", "pain", "loss" and "love" have all developed new meanings to me over time, particularly after the loss of my brother in 2011. My brother, Kurtis Salyer, was 25 when he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He died just shy of a year later at age 26. I was sixteen when he died, and could not grasp the reality of the year that had lapsed since he was diagnosed. It has taken me the last six years to fully navigate what it takes to fight cancer. Cancer cannot be fought alone. It requires the bravery and love of family to face a diagnosis like cancer. My family fought together for my brother, Kurt. My aunt worked in the hospital where he received his treatment, and she cared for him through his chemotherapy while at the facility. His fearless fiancé fought for him at home, caring for him through sleepless, painful nights and irate days, with the kind of tenderness and patience only true love can supply. My parents, brothers and I fought for him in life through prayer, financial support, quality time and laughter. We all did everything we could until God called him home. I didn't understand at the time that the fight with cancer doesn't cease with death - my family fights it every day with the wakening realization that Kurt is not here. Through this experience, the words "pain" and "loss" have taken on a deeper meaning than ever before. However, so have the words "bravery" and "love". I got to experience the miracle of what a family is capable of in the face of tragedy, and I got to live these experiences with a richness and depth, negatively and positively, that changed who I am, the course of my life, and the appreciation with which I value relationships. Losing someone I love to cancer has taught me more about myself than I could've ever anticipated. I learned at a young age how to cope with immense pain and confusion, how to channel negative feelings into positive outlets, and how to appreciate my family and their far-reaching support. Losing my brother when I was sixteen prepared me for life's unexpected quandaries, and taught me how to keep problems in perspective. Now, as I near the age Kurt was diagnosed, I am sure to care for my health and my body diligently, and to appreciate each day I have. Ultimately, fighting alongside my brother prepared me to fight alongside our father this year when he was diagnosed with cancer. My father's status was less severe than Kurt's was, but we were prepared as a family to handle what was to come. Again, we rallied together to support someone we love and fight with them. Fortunately, my father's outcome has been far more positive than my brother's was, and he is feeling healthy as ever today. Education played a pivotal role in the fight against cancer, both in the traditional sense and in unorthodox ways. The education of the doctors that cared for my brother and father helped treat their illnesses and the education of the counselors helped heal my family. However, these experiences educated me far beyond my expectations. As aforementioned, I gained more perspective at the age of sixteen than many grown adults have now. This fight also taught me how to channel my energy into schoolwork to further my own education. Losing my brother inspired me to get the most out of my life as I could, and that has been my mission since. I graduated at the top of my high school class at age seventeen, and continued on to the University of Washington to pursue a double major in Law, Societies and Justice and Political Science. I am continuing my education in the fall at Seattle University School of Law, following my dream to become an attorney. Education is important in the fight against cancer in the traditional sense of treatment, but it is far more important for the families that fight cancer with their loved ones. Education allows families to move forward through their experience, and it allows them to enrich their lives beyond the fight against cancer, teaching us the valuable lessons that there are to learn following those experiences. Education allows us to fight back, not letting cancer devastate us beyond recovery, and it allows us to positively impact the world, the way our lost loved ones want us to. Fighting cancer with my brother and father deepened my understanding of the terms "loss" and "pain", but it also expanded my appreciation, understanding and application of the words "bravery" and "love". I wouldn't be the person I am today without living those experiences, and without education, the experience of fighting against cancer would be far less meaningful.

Angelica M. - Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery - Read Essay »

I think we all have a favorite aunt or uncle, and you can always let them know in a card or private message but you never want to say it out loud at a family event and offend someone. That was my aunt Cathy. She was my favorite. I mean she is still my favorite, I just cant tell her that anymore. When I was little she would hop into my Barbie jeep and ride around the neighborhood, surely knowing that she looked ridiculous but she wanted to enjoy time with me. She was the aunt who didn't mind doing kid things with me to entertain me. She was everything I aspired to be, finished college, opened her own psychiatry private practice, traveled the world, and found love. She was the epitome of my goals. Did I mention she was the absolute healthiest person that I knew? I'm talking about reading all the labels, she was so over the top she only drank organic wine. Her amazing life and healthy habits didn't stop ovarian cancer from plucking her from this world way too soon. If someone told me she was going to get cancer or not be able to fight it, I would have laughed in his or her face. But God/the universe had other plans. When she was diagnosed with her ovarian cancer she was already in stage four and her only symptoms showed up just a month prior. It was too late, as the doctors put it. It was no longer a matter of could she fight it but instead for how long would we get to enjoy my sweet aunts life. She fought long and hard, the doctors gave her a maximum of 5 months and she lived for a year and half. She had all of us by her side. I think it is so necessary for family to support whatever choices their family member chooses with chemotherapy and those things. We had to be gentle and understanding when my aunt Cathy chose to stop her chemo. She was no longer living a life that was quality. She could no longer enjoy the outdoors, help her clients or even enjoy her outrageous health habits. The things that made her happy were stripped from her and by the end of her life. She was fighting for us, her family and no longer for herself. I think we could have been gentler, more supportive, let her know she didn't have to suffer like she was. The last day I saw my aunt her hospice room, I saw a gaunt body that didn't look like my aunt Cathy. She was sleeping most of the days, and she would wake up just to spew gibberish at us. The best thing I received were her words of encouragement, after two days of sleeping and not speaking she woke up and asked to speak with me alone. She told me ," now listen here miss, remember I will be watching you, don't do anything stupid and make sure you become the midwife you want to become." I couldn't have imagined any more encouraging and funny words to be left with. I think its so important to be in touch with your body. That's something I learned form my aunt passing away. Good food choices don't prevent you from getting cancer. You have to know the cues, and lump, bump or out of the ordinary pain push to get it taken care. Take your yearly exams serious and don't skip them. She should have been screened for cervical/ovarian cancer but something wasn't done, not sure whose side that was on, hers of the doctors. But we as society need to value preventative medicine. I could go on and on about how cancer is horrid. I hope and pray they find a cure for it.. I don't wish cancer striking anyone's family member but if it does I pray for their strength and ability to support who ever is fighting!

Arielle R. - Colorado School of Mines - Read Essay »

I never really knew too much about cancer. I remember hearing that you can get it in a variety of ways genetics, living conditions, drugs, foods, etc. Cancer was apparently all around me and it seemed like anything I did made me a possible victim. However, as susceptible as I was to it living my daily life, I never for once considered it to be something that could affect me personally. You hear about people getting diseases, but it always seems like a distant thing that you'll never have to deal with; therefore, you don't always pay much attention to it. When the first member of my father's side got cancer, I felt a chill. My Aunt Step (Aunt Stephanie) was an older woman when she got breast cancer. It seemed like a likely thing to happen as you get older, but when she died, it's like reality struck. Soon after, two of my uncles found out they had prostate cancer. They were in there 40s, so not quite so old, both my father's younger brothers. When my grandmother got sick, we found out she was battling leukemia. The transition couldn't have been more bitter. From a lively woman with thick gorgeous gray hair in her old age to a frail and fragile presence, I saw cancer kill her. The funeral will be something I always remember. As we sat in the church listening to the sermon on God's love and grace and how my grandmother was now safely wrapped in his arms, not as the living dead, but as a spirit, I glanced up at my dad. The man who could tear my behind up in a heartbeat was huddled over with a face that looked so weak and hopeless. As I watched him cry, no doubt remembering being held by his mother as a child, her grabbing his face and telling him he could be anything he wanted to be, and all the sweet memories that ran through his mind, I began to cry. While I had never had the opportunity to sit down with her and pick her brain about life, old stories of what was and laugh over old pictures, I always felt loved by her. One of the 30 grandkids she has of her 16 children, she always mixed up our names and never quite got it right. She would just call us all "buster", but she loved every one of us. My grandfather soon followed about three years later. I wasn't too sure on the type of cancer he had, but I believe his was leukemia as well. Cancer finally struck it's final chord with me when my father got prostate cancer. When he sat us all down and told us, his face looked like he knew it was inevitable and only a matter of time. Luckily, my father was able to fight it. He underwent a medical procedure and remained on a healthy diet and exercise plan. He was determined to get himself healthy as he wasn't going to lose his life to this. His two brothers, my uncles, are still alive today as well. I am grateful that not everyone affected in my life by cancer ended in death. I am also lucky to not lose the closest member of my family to it, or at least not right now. The fight against cancer is not easy, and I absolutely believe that aside from medical treatment and surgical procedures, there are other tools we can use more readily accessible getting ourselves healthy, family support and prayer. All three of these tools can be utilized by anyone and all three work. Even if it does end in death, I believe that it heals us mentally from cancer by not allowing it to control our lives. I never understood how my grandmother never fell into a depression, or at least not one that I was ever exposed to. She probably took her last breath with a smile on her face. She died knowing she was loved and where she was going. Cancer health challenges have taught me that life is extremely precious. Make sure the people in yours know how precious their lives are to you. We live our lives so selfishly sometimes, never returning that phone call and flaking on people, just because we think it really doesn't matter. But the truth is, we all have a clock that is slowly ticking. Cancer, especially being so common and running in a lot of people's families, can claim a life so quickly. It's taught me that I can't allow my own life to get in the way of making sure those I love know I care and how I value the moments we share together. It's like the news of my father's prostate cancer flipped a switch in me. I showed him love and kindness constantly. I never quarreled with him or rolled my eyes when he'd switch to "fatherly" mode even though I was in my 20s. Why did it take the news of his cancer to shift my treatment towards him? Why did that make him all the sudden more valuable? It shouldn't. I've really come to understand that we've got to do all we can to give love and to accept love, because everyone's time here is short. Educating ourselves on cancer is just another way to fight it and defeat it. It works sometimes. Education is what allows for chemical engineers and scientists to research and study, seeing what they can do to try and find a cure or at least alleviate the effects of cancer. Education allows nutritionists and dieticians to provide people with information to help keep them healthy and at low risks. Education allows doctors and medical staff to be right by your loved one's side, monitoring them and caring for them as they fight the battle for their life. Education is the ultimate way to defeat cancer, and God willing, we can witness less and less of it.

Arya H. - San Francisco state university - Read Essay »

Cancer is a horrible experience to have in your life time. This is coming from a victim of cancer. When I was 10 years old I was diagnosed with a rare spinal cancer. I remember when my parents heard the news and I came in the room and they were crying. I thought it was a cold that would go away in a week , but no it was far much worse. Once I started medication I remember I got weak. I couldn't eat, walk, talk, or anything, but was screaming on the inside. I honestly thought I would not make it. One day my doctor came in and told me that I would die if I wouldn't eat and miss a day of radiation (which I did). That's when I had to grow up a little faster. Some may tell you that you need to eat, and have a good immune system to fight cancer. This is only half of what it takes to fight. I was diagnosed until I was 13. During those years I had supporting family and friends that would motivate me that I could be a survivor. Your surroundings are very important when you have cancer. I had positive surroundings and was brave. I told myself I was going to survive. I did many things that helped me fight. I ate everyday even if I threw it back up a hour later. I would walk around and put a smile on my face. I went through all the IV's , Ports, and MRI's without a tear. I did every thing I could to keep myself healthy. While doing this I remembered my future. I always wanted to be a doctor. So I continued my school work in the hospital. I did whatever I could to be a ordinary kid again and not be behind. I wanted to grow up and grow old and be an adult and get married and so forth. So I wasn't going to let myself go. Finally I got to go back to school at age 12 and was teased. I was teased for being missing and looking different. I didn't let other kids get to me though. I still was strong and kept my head up. I was brave for going back. I knew my parents could not afford to pay my medical bills , but were trying so hard too. I still recovered though . Still today they are paying hospital bills and trying to pay for my college . So I try hard to make money and help them by doing scholarships and such. This scholarship would mean so much too me and help me with college so much. In conclusion , there are many opinions on what it takes to fight cancer . To fight cancer you have to be strong and brave. You have to know your going to survive. You need to be motivated and positive at all times. That's what it takes to fight cancer!

Barbara D. - Thomas Edison State University - Read Essay »

My Mother is an amazing and strong woman. I have watched her overcome challenges with such grace and finesse that she seems hardly busy at all. Meanwhile, many other people might have a nervous breakdown or simply give up, if needed to endure the hardships. As a young mother, she raised my brother, sister, and myself alone, while putting herself through school to find independence and protect us from an abusive father. I watched her stay up late to write papers and study with flash cards as she cleaned offices with us three kids there helping her. While she has escaped the survived school, and escaped an abusive husband while keeping herself and three children safe, she has completely escaped her past. Now my mother struggles to escape the relentless consequences of many childhood sunburns on her fair Irish skin. At least once a month she returns to the Dermatologist to have a new spot on her face, chest, or arms treated with Cryotherapy. This year she is trying a new treatment. A treatment that is a form of chemotherapy. She applies a cream that inhibits with the formation of DNA and RNA, which are essential for cell division and growth. Ultimately, the inhibition causes the cancer cells to die, because they grow faster and absorb more of the chemotherapy medication then healthy cells do. The skin on her face and chest progressively appear more and more red and scaly as her skin cells die where she applies the treatment. I know it was painful, but she never complains. I know she probably feels terribly sick, but she hasn't spoken of her own trials, not even once. It takes an incredibly strong person so battle cancer. As my Mom fights this battle with skin cancer she continues to work every day for long shifts at the hospital as well as homecare jobs in between her hospital shifts. A person that is battling cancer needs to have a dedicated support system, know that they are loved, and have a reason to fight. My brother, sister and I love our Mom to the end of the world and back I know that she fights her battle for us. Even though she never complains of pain, and never asks for help, she knows we would be there for her in a heartbeat. There are many qualities that are needed by a person fighting cancer. Qualities such as courage, hopefulness, determination, and resilience. Although, my mom would say that it takes love, a reason to fight, and a glass of wine every night. I have learned how to work hard from my mom. Whenever I think that I am overwhelmed with my job, school work, and life. I think of how hard my Mother is always working and realize that I can to work harder. Education is about skin cancer crucial to saving lives. Children are notorious for getting injured because they feel invincible. My mother tells me and my siblings that as a child, she never knew how important sunscreen was. If someone had told her that she needed to apply sunscreen every day and even reapply during those long days on the beach, she might not have to fight this battle right now. Instilling children with a knowledge of skin cancer can set a foundation for good habits of sunscreen applications and protecting their skin throughout their entire lives saving them from an avoidable battle.

Ben B. - Bowling Green State University - Read Essay »

The cancer battle is one no one wins. Some people may beat cancer, but the side effects from the treatment is what is the hardest. My grandfather just turned 80 years old in June and has been living with the Side effects from the cancer treatment for several years. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer about six years ago. The whole family was very nervous and frightened because we did not know how much the cancer had spread throughout his body. My grandfather had to spend lots of time in the hospital getting tests done. After many tests the doctors figured out where the cancer was at and how to treat it. He had to go through chemotherapeutic treatment. The treatment was a success and killed off all the cancer, but what affects him now is the side effects from after the treatment. The radiation from the treatment has affected his body very negatively. He is slowly losing control of his bladder and stool. Every time we go somewhere as a family he spends most of his time in the bathroom because he cannot hold it. The radiation makes him have to urinate a lot more than the normal person. The hardest thing to see him go through is when he has an accident and loses control before he can make it to the restroom. We were on the highway coming home one afternoon and my grandfather had to pull over on the side of the road to urinate, when a state high way patrol officer pulled up. The officer was very rude and told my grandfather he could get in trouble for doing that on the side of the road. He got very upset at himself because it was not something he could control. He has now started to wear adult diapers do to the fact that he is not able to control his bladder anymore. Watching my grandfather go through all of this has been one of the hardest things to do in my life. I love my grandfather and seeing him have to go through lots of pain and embarrassment. I am afraid that one day the cancer might come back someday and be too much for my grandfather to handle. Cancer has affected so many people's lives in today's world, not only the people who have cancer but their family members who love and support them to keep fighting and witnessing the pain and suffering.

Brianna A. - Michigan State University - Read Essay »

Fortitude. It takes fortitude to fight cancer. There is no sugar coating something such as cancer. It's rough, and watching a loved one is not so much better. One needs to possess courage, but not only courage it must be a specific type. A courage that emerges out of pain and adversity. That's fortitude. To look hopelessness in the face and refuse to back down. Cancer is one of those things that once you let it beat you it does. So, you don't and you don't let your loved ones give up either. At times, it seems no matter how many steps forward you take. It just seems for every step forward you take you then take two steps back. These are the times where fortitude is needed. I lost my grandfather two years ago to pancreatic cancer. When I was growing up he always seemed unbreakable. I have a fond memory of us when I was growing up. We were sledding one afternoon as he was pushing me down the hill he slipped which caused him to start to fall down the hill and force me into a cluster of trees. When we both recovered, he started to laugh it off while I was terrified. He even asked me when I wanted to go again. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I never wanted to go again. Those trees were not comfy. It hurt a lot when I ran into them. But he wouldn't hear any of this. My grandpa was one of the first person to teach me that pain and fear should never stop you, but it should inspire you to continue forward. I unfortunately didn't completely understand this until I visited him in the hospital and he was visibly in pain. I had never seen him in such a state. I had always pictured him as a strong and sturdy person, but now he just appeared fragile. But despite everything he smiled. He looked what I thought was hopelessness in the face and refused to back down. He decided he was going to face up to the cancer that infected his body and give it everything he had. He wasn't going to let it win. Sadly, it did. Even though cancer was the cause of his death it never defeated him. He gave it everything he had, but in this instance, it just wasn't enough. At the end of the day that is all you can do. All you can do is give it everything you have despite the pain and despite the adversity. To not just take life lying down, but to show fortitude. That is what he showed and what he gave to us to help him battle. Grandpa may have lost the battle, but he won the war. His memory lives on with us as a strong man who put up an unbelievable fight.

Brooke W. - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - Read Essay »

My mother Tiffany was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 23, she went through multiple surgeries to take out the entirety of the cancer neighboring her thyroid. Those multitudes of surgeries had appeared to keep the thyroid cancer at bay for years, until right after I was born. Late in the year 2000, the malignancy had come back, my mother went through many radioactive iodine treatments to further kill her thyroid and later get it removed. Those treatments caused my mom and my one-year-old self to be separated a lot of the time, but even though she felt weak, she only displayed that she was strong. After that major removal of her thyroid, her health was recovering and there were no additional signs of cancer in her body; all was ultimately well, and her fight seemed to be over. My mother had what it took to fight cancer, yet words and adjectives to describe the process are inadequate. Fighting cancer is a long journey, and a hard fought battle. A battle full of sacrifice, support, and a longingness for good health. A value that followed her throughout her fight was optimism. My mother gleamed with positivity though out her this obstacle in her life, turning every lick of bad news into something miniscule and manageable. Through my mother's journey, I have learned that combating cancer is a mind over body task. When your flesh is unable, your mind must prevail in search of hope. However, it takes a lot more than a strong mentality to fight cancer. What battling cancer takes is a strong support system. Whether it be family, friends, therapists, or medical professionals; a group of people to be there along the difficult journey helps an individual who is diagnosed with cancer to cope with their illness. Fighting cancer would be much more psychologically strenuous and confusing if others were not around to stand by your side. Education is pivotal in the fight against cancer for multiple reasons. First, by knowing the symptoms of cancer you are more inclined to get checked by a medical professional, which in turn could catch the cancer in an early stage; resulting in a more manageable treatment. Next, educating yourself on the multitudes of treatments and side effects leads to a more successful cancer control plan. Finally, it is essential for people to have knowledge of cancer in their familial history, and the risk of them having cancer as well. Having awareness about all types of cancers can incline you to keep track of your health. Watching my mother battle cancer for years has taught me to believe that it is tremendously important to be educated on the options of treatment and what would work best for your body and personal situation. This complication in my mother's life has taught me that going to the doctor as recommended can catch early signs of cancer and keep your health in order. Earlier this year of 2017, my mother went back for a doctor appointment to check for cancer, and the sickness had come back with a vengeance. Still, with bravery and strength my mother is still fighting to this day. If my mother had not been to the doctor to check for any relapses on a regular basis she would not have caught the small amount of cancer growing in her body. Without education and the understanding of this disease, managing cancer in later stages would result in much more violent treatments and additional surgeries. Because of these experiences with cancer that I have observed as I have grown up alongside my mother, I understand the importance of doing something as simple as going to an annual check-up, and for familial reasons, get my neck checked for any abnormalities. I have learned that it takes a lot to fight cancer. My mother fought hard and is fighting still to this day; her battle has shown me that having a positive mentality, a strong support system, and knowledge about your treatment can help you to conquer cancer. My mother, the one with the scar on her neck and a smile on her face beams with all of the qualities that it takes to battle cancer. My mother Tiffany pictured above after her first surgery. My mother Tiffany and I, pictured above, at the Relay for Life Cancer walk in which we participate in annually.

Carla N. - Johnson & Wales University - Read Essay »

What does it take to fight cancer? I can answer that easily. To fight cancer you will need a back bone. You will need a family, a strong team of doctors, and most importantly you will need faith, strength, and yourself. Family plays an amazing role in fighting cancer. Having family members around you who love and support you is one of the most important things you will ever need. Without them you would truly be miserable. Family is the people waiting in your room when you return, cheering you on during physical therapy, and bringing you food when you can finally stomach something. Family is there to hold your weight for you, they are there for a shoulder to lean on and a shirt to wipe your tears. Without family you have a team of doctors who can only do so much to comfort you, but that does not make them any less important. Doctors are extremely important in fighting cancer. They are the ones who help you fight it the most. During chemotherapy and labs, your doctors are there to make you as comfortable as possible. They are there to do whatever it takes to make you healthy again. They stay up late night trying to figure out what medications to give you, what procedures to take, and what surgeries to perform. They have the most stress on them because all they want to do is make your life better. They want to see your chance of living increase and increase more. There are several things your family and doctors can do to help you fight cancer, but one thing they cannot do is give you faith. Faith is something only you can give yourself and it will take a lot. There will be times you do not want to believe because everything is pointing in the opposite directing, but faith. Faith is there to pull you through. Faith will never let you down, unless you let faith down. People often think when something is not working it is because it is not real, but that is not true. If it does not happen it is because they stopped believing it will work and the faith faded away. Faith is so powerful, but only you can give it power. My grandmother passed away in 2009 from lung cancer that spread throughout her entire body. My grandmother had the best family anyone could ask for. She had a wonderful team of doctors. Last, but not least she had faith and a whole lot of it. There was not one person on this entire earth who could make her believe she would not pull through, except herself. Everyone around her was on her team. From her husband to her children and grandchildren, to her brother and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Unfortunately, that did not change anything. The cancer progressed so quickly and aggressively she lost all faith and hope too soon. My grandmother finally gave up and it was one of the worst experiences I have ever had to face. Education is too important in fighting cancer because that is how the doctors and nurses know how to help their patient. There still is not a cure for cancer and without education there never will be. We need education to fight cancer. It is time for families to stop mourning the deaths of their family members because of cancer. I have watched too many of my own family members lose hair, grow weak, forget their memory, etc. I believe I speak for everyone when I say it is time to find a cure for cancer and education is one only ways to go.

Carly L. - Life University, College of Chiropractic - Read Essay »

From the time I was a little girl until now, I have always been sheltered from death. I never watched a family member or a friend suffer. In December 2015, our lives took a drastic change. My grandfather was diagnosed with Stage 3 Bladder Cancer that was spreading to his lungs. This type of cancer is very common for avid smokers, like he was. Even though he stopped smoking about ten years ago, it wasn't soon enough. The beginning stages weren't so bad. My dad took him to and from doctor's appointments and made sure he got to everywhere he needed to go. My mom, a nurse, made sure he got all of the medications he needed and made sure he took them at the right time. My parents did everything they could to help. They took off work, cancelled meetings or business trips and made my grandfather their priority. My grandfather started chemotherapy last summer, which they quickly stopped after two months of treatment because it was not helping. The tumors were continuing to grow. At this point, none of his options of treatment were great. With the help of the doctors and my mom, he decided to have a procedure to insert tubes into his kidney, which was very helpful for him. He was placed into hospice, where he was still receiving care. The doctors did not expect for him to make it through the next month due to the weakness caused by chemotherapy. However, he fought. Once he got strong enough, the doctors decided to start an experimental treatment called immunotherapy. Although there is scientific research that this treatment works, the doctors were very unsure if this treatment could help him because of the rapid progression of his cancer. After about six months of immune therapy, the doctors decided to stop the immunotherapy because the tumors were still continuing to grow. At this point, all options were exhausted. There was nothing left for the doctors to do to cure my grandfather. At the end of May, the doctors informed my family that he would return to in home hospice, where we would help him to live out the rest of his days as comfortably as possible. Watching the rapid deterioration of my grandfather was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced. I spent everyday at his house, helping whenever possible because school is over and I had more free time. My aunt and uncle returned from out of state as much as possible to spend time with him and help care for him. My dad, who is able to work from home, spent all day on conference calls at his house. My mom would come every day before work and again as soon as she got off. Hospice nurses came at least four-five times a week to help bathe him, check on him and take care of him. A social worker was in and out as often as possible to help my family cope during the difficult time. At this point, all we had left was faith and hope that he could live the rest of his days as peacefully as possible with his loved ones by his side. He is still rapidly deteriorating with not much time left to live. Fighting cancer has to be one of the hardest tasks in the world. My grandfather was not the only one that fought that cancer. My entire family battled it too. He never once battled alone, but had a small army by his side of family, friends and medical professionals. In order to have the will to fight, even when there are almost no options left, one has to be strong, faithful and tremendously supported. Strength has single handedly gotten my grandfather and my family through this fight. The strength to believe in another treatment. The strength to try again after many failed treatments. The strength to continue fighting. The strength to stand by my grandfather's side and hold his hand as the doctors continue to give him bad news. The strength to believe in God's power will for my grandfather, even if that meant death. The strength to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Without strength, one will never survive a battle with cancer. Whether the strength comes from your family, God, your inner self, or someone else, it is essential in the battle. Faith also plays a major role in fighting cancer. It doesn't have to be faith in a higher power or religious faith. Having faith and trusting in the medical professionals who are caring for cancer patients is critical. Having faith can be as simple as believing in the treatment options and hoping we will find one that will help. However, religious faith has played a major role in my family's battle with cancer. My family prays frequently. My grandfather was religious for a majority of his life. My grandfather and my family placed major faith in God's hands to take care of my grandfather and to help him fight this battle. Although it was never easy, especially after many failed treatments, our faith never got lost. We constantly believed in God and looked for answers through prayer. Faith in medicine and in religion aids in the battle. Finally, a cancer patient needs a tremendous support system. Friends, family and doctors need to constantly be there and be positive during the difficult time. Helping each other out, taking turns going to appointments, and lending an ear when someone needs to talk is a major part of the fight. Being there for each other has made this battle at least a little bit easier. Fighting cancer is not easy. It's not easy for the patient and it's not easy on their family, but with strength, faith and a strong support system, the battle becomes a little bit less difficult.

Chase M. - University of Central Missouri - Read Essay »

Fighting Cancer is a complex issue, due to differences of opinion, knowledge, social environment, medical history, and personal decision. The decision is shaped by various factor such as religion, past experiences as well as financial. Fighting cancer is a touchy subject to many. Many people do what expected by the medical professionals and leave their fate in the medical industry in their hands. Other chose to go further, to do more and take matters into their own hands. I personally have experienced both in my family. One person's opinion and definition of fighting cancer can be completely opposite and more radical than another. My definition in fighting cancer is doing what it takes as a person to get the results that I am expecting. There is no right or wrong way to fight the fight. While modern medicine would like to say what they do is best for the patient, I do not believe that is always the case. There are many alternatives to fighting cancer that the public should be more aware of and more accepting of. I believe there should be more education given to each patient on the alternatives. As well as resources to find the alternative treatments. I have watched a grandmother go thru surgery after surgery and medications and radiations and suffer thru pain and deterioration. She did exactly what the doctors and hospitals told her to do. She was very ill, weak and diminishing both physical and mentally. It was one of the most difficult times for her and for our family. Had she been more aware of other options and non-traditional treatments that are being used, she would have used those resources. They may not have cured her cancer, but if they would have alleviated some of the pain and suffering that she went thru as she was being treated medically, there is no doubt in my mind she would have obtained those resources. I have also seen my grandfather go thru the same cancer as my grandmother, and knowing the outcome she had, made the decision to do the exact opposite of her treatments. His choice was to surround himself with family and self-medicate both with legal and non-legal remedies. In his opinion, he wasn't fighting to stay alive, he was fighting to be a person while he was still alive. He refused surgeries, and any medical industry interactions. His quality of life was greater than what his wife went thru. He was able to live and function on a more normal level while fighting his cancer and in his opinion he was happier for making the decision to do so. Fighting cancer and the way a person chooses to fight, should be something more people should understand and support in all aspects including the medical professional, family as well as state and government. Until they are faced with a diagnosis such as cancer, and their forced to make a decision, rather it be radical, traditional or non-conventional, it should be a decision that would not be viewed as incorrect, or ill-advised or criminal. It should be up to the patient, and the support from the family.

Chelsea C. - Ivy Tech Community College Evansville - Read Essay »

When my youngest brother Josh was just 11 years old, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. It hit my family like a freight train traveling at 200 mph. We have no history of cancer in our family and yet there is was, this large mass of cancerous cells in his left femur staring us in the face. We decided to go at it as aggressively as we could so my brother was admitted to St. Vincent childrens hospital in Indianapolis where he stayed for the next 9 months of his life. He was always hooked up to machines that were pumping his body full of toxic chemotherapy drugs. He was so toxic in fact that the nurses would have to wear gloves around him if he was leaking any type of fluid. Even his tears were dangerous to those nurses. I sat by and watched the light slowly drain out of my baby brother's eyes. This once vibrant, energetic little boy become a shell of his former self. He had no energy and when he was awake, he was hateful because he was too young to understand what was happening to his body. He had BIG dreams. He wanted to play football in high school. He wanted to go to West Pointe and join the military. And suddenly, those dreams were violently stolen from him in the blink of an eye. He had every right to be angry. Heck, I was angry and it wasn't even happening to me. We are a very religious family and have never doubted God's plans for us as individuals and as a family but in those 9 months, our faith was tested in a way that no one can imagine unless they have walked the same path. And you know what the awesome thing was? No matter how hard of a day he was having, he never lost faith in God's divine plan for his life. He knew that God was going to heal him and he would have this amazing testimony to share with others who were fighting an uphill battle. And wouldn't you know it, that childlike faith saved him. He was spared and has officially been deemed medically cured. But the other families on that oncology unit were not so blessed. Out of the 11 children who were there with Josh, only 3 are still alive. I cannot imagine the pain a parent must feel having to bury a child. There are just some things I will never understand. Parents are not supposed to bury their children, children are supposed to bury their parents. So while I will be forever thankful that the Lord saved my brother, my heart still aches for those who lost their children. Josh is now a freshman at Butler University and is studying pharmacy. He is going to big and mighty things in this world and I know his battle with cancer plays a direct role in his hunger for life now.

Chris H. - University of New England - Read Essay »

"You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live..." (Stuart Scott, 2016). When I was four years old my grandmother was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Being a four year old I had no idea what cancer meant, nor did I know how devastating this disease was. She told us in her own way what it meant to be diagnosed with cancer, she told my brother and I (in Spanish) "I have a little bump in my chest, the doctors will make it better. I will spend many nights in the hospital, be sure to visit me." We didn't think anything of it, and continued to play with our toy cars. However, 16 years later I understand how she fought, in the way she fought and how she lived with this maleficent disease. For nearly a year she battled breast cancer, having to undergo a lumpectomy. Additionally, having to undergo constant chemotherapy. Furthermore, she faced psychological challenges every time she looked in the mirror, she didn't recognize herself, Her hair was falling out, her skin sometimes would peel, and she became extremely thin. She was mentally and physically exhausted from all the chemotherapy. However, what pushed her through those obstacles and that exhaustion were her grandchildren. She fought everyday for her grandchildren, she hoped to see them grow up and have kids, just like she did. When she beat cancer she was her normal self, she lived her life the same, regardless if she was cancer free or not, she was the same person. Although, we thought she was out of the woods, the cancer came back with a vengeance. This time to beat the cancer she would need a mastectomy. After pondering for weeks, she decided not to undergo the massive surgery of a mastectomy. She did not want this disease to change her everyday complexion for the rest of her life. She didn't want to look in the mirror everyday and not recognize the same person. Four months later she passed. She beat cancer in my eyes; she lived with purpose, she traveled, she worked, she loved, and she fought (the "how"). She lived because of her grandchildren and fought for that chance to see them grow up (the "why"). Not one day did she let her children or grandchildren see how weak she was or how much pain she was in, she did not let this disease strip her of her identity (the "manner in which"). But most importantly she fought this disease till the end. Cancer takes a lot out of a person, it takes physical and mental resilience, toughness, etc. Not only does it take one persons strength it takes a families strength. The family must be prepared for all possible outcomes. That takes a toll on a family, wondering if today is the last with their loved ones. To fight cancer family is essential. This takes every last ounce of strength a person has and then some. Sometimes those people suffering from cancer need someone to lean on. That's where family comes in, they will fight for you even when you can't fight. My grandmother gave it her all, until her last breath. She has inspired me 16 years later, no matter what obstacle I face, I will always use her story as motivation to keep fighting. She has inspired me to continue this fight with cancer. She one of the main reasons I want to become a doctor. I want to help people at their weakest points. Hopefully one day I can say as part of the medical community, we have abolished cancer from our society.

Connie Z. - Harvard Medical School - Read Essay »

Looking at my father now, it is hard to imagine that nine years ago, he was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. That doctors told him he may never be able to walk again. That he was vomiting more than 20 times a day because of chemotherapy. Or that my mother passed away when my father was undergoing treatment. My father today is a jovial man. 5'10", laugh lines around his eyes, tanned face, chubby, and a constant smile as if he had just said something funny. His slight limp and scars are the only external signs of the battle he fought almost a decade ago. My father was diagnosed with colon cancer in the fall of 2008. I was a sophomore in high school and the only things on my mind were what grade I was going to get in Spanish class and how I was going to fit in with the popular kids. When my father was diagnosed, I did not, and did not want to, understand too much of his illness. For fear that it would hurt me. And for fear that the life I was hoping to create for myself was going to be shattered. My mother was the one who took meticulous notes at each of my father's appointments. She was the one who made him chicken soup and massaged his feet when neuropathy kicked in. She was the barrier between my selfish 16-year-old self and my father's cancer. But try as I did to distance myself from cancer, it still affected me. Dinners were no longer the time to happily catch each other up on our days or tell jokes. It was a somber reminder that our family was in this together, whether we liked it or not. The kitchen counter, which used to be filled with chips and cookies, were replaced with bottles of herbal medication and supplements. We no longer made plans for our next vacation or talked about the future too far in advance. It felt like we were bound to cancer and its plans for us. In the summer of 2009, our lives took a turn for the worse when my mother suddenly passed away from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. I never said good-bye to her. I was devastated. And I was forced to become intimately close with my father's experience with cancer. Tuesdays and Thursdays were chemotherapy days. Armed with books and my laptop, I was determined to make use of the four hours in the hospital while my father mostly rested. When we finally arrived home exhausted, we knew it was only a matter of time before my father started vomiting. The precisely timed beeping from his chemotherapy pump was a clear reminder of that. Saturday was the day in which friends would visit and deliver food. Our home constantly smelled of Chinese "white-cut chicken" because that was the only food my father was able to tolerate. Fighting cancer became a ritual. It was the only way to deal with the uncertainty and provide structure in our lives. When friends gingerly asked how my father was doing, my answer was an automatic "fine". When Monday rolled around, our house was filled with unspoken anxiety because we knew the next day would be another round of chemotherapy. When Friday came, we silently let out a sigh of relief. Relief that another week was over and that maybe next week would be better. Amidst our harshly structured life were glimpses of hope and joy. My father, through it all, kept his humor. When friends came to visit, our house was filled with uninhibited laughter as my father told jokes and poked fun at his illness. On days when my father mustered enough energy, he would go to our backyard and trim our bushes or pull our weeds. It was his way of telling us that cancer did not define who he was. That what he did today mattered. Fast forward nine years, three major surgeries, and months of chemotherapy and radiation later, my father is the man he always was. In addition to telling jokes, he now uses his experiences to provide encouragement for those who are facing similar challenges. Many people do not like the terms "fight" or "battle" to describe cancer, and while I admit they are imperfect in elucidating the experience, they do highlight the challenge of cancer and perseverance that is required. Education about cancer is crucial to normalize the fear and uncertainty that comes with cancer. So what does it take to fight cancer? Acknowledgment. Acknowledgment that life is different, that cancer is painful, and that it's ok to feel frustration and fear. Cancer may have hurt my family and challenged our hope, but it was also the string that wove our lives together in ways we did not expect, and taught us the strength that we have today.

David F. - Piedmont Virginia Community College - Read Essay »

Our family has a long and difficult history with cancer. My paternal grandfather was one of the original John's Manville asbestos cases. His wife, my paternal grandmother, died of lung cancer when I was a year old. My maternal grandmother died at 59 years old with lung cancer and my brother's dad, Uncle Pat, died at just 37 years old with leukemia. My mom has had a skin cancer tumor removed and her brother, Uncle David, was just diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Uncle Pat's struggle with cancer will be the focus of this paper as his was the most memorable for me as it relates to the question of care and treatment of cancer.. Uncle Patrick, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 36 years old. He had two young children and had only been married about 10 years. Leukemia is a horrible cancer and Uncle Pat's was very aggressive. He had a blood type that was not very common, but it turned out that my dad was a perfect match to try a white blood cell transfusion to help him rebuild his cells. After giving himself injections in the stomach a few times a day for a week, my dad's immune system produced an abundance of white blood cells that were harvested and given to my uncle. It worked really well and he was able to leave the hospital and come home…for about three weeks. After that time, the cancer came back with a vengeance and it only took a few more weeks before he succumbed to it and died, leaving a young widow and two kids. I was young then, but knew that it was horrible that someone with a whole life seemingly ahead of them should be taken prematurely. I remember travelling to Atlanta a number of times as he fought the disease, taking chemotherapy and radiation treatments and finally the white blood cell transfusion. I remember my dad telling me how difficult it was for him, with weeping blisters and awful pain that goes along with the treatments. The chemicals used to try and kill, or at least slow down, the cancer growth are so toxic and damaging that I wonder sometimes if it is worth it. He lost all of his hair and was very ill from the treatments, which was sort of scary for a young man watching from the sidelines. I should mention that not too long before Uncle Pat got his cancer, we had taken care of my grandmother in her last months before she fell to the disease. She moved in with us so my mom could take care of her and I remember the long nights my mom had staying up with her because she was so sick and unable to sleep because of the throat sores and nausea from the chemotherapy. They finally installed a feeding tube so that mom could give her nutrition when she was not able to eat or drink normally. It was a terrible way to end a life. Cancer treatments, from the little I've experienced, have come a long way in their effectiveness, but are still very invasive and damaging to the quality of life for the time they are being given. It is my hope that as my Uncle David now begins treatments for his brain tumor, the medicine and treatment options will not only help treat the disease, but also allow him to enjoy, as best as he can, the time during those treatments.

Dayna C. - Maryland University of Integrative Health - Read Essay »

My sister, Kelsey, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in April at the ripe old age of 31. It came as a huge shock and quite a blow to all of our family, as she is fit and healthy in all other aspects. She does not drink or smoke, maintains a healthy diet and weight, and exercises regularly. We all wondered how could this have happened to her. I cannot adequately express the anger, questioning and, most of all, fear that a cancer diagnosis creates for family members. I can only imagine what my sister, herself, must have felt when she first learned of it. We all reacted differently to it. For my mother, it was mostly grief and stress. She couldn't sleep at night for worry. My dad is one who tries to put on a happy face or make light of situations, but he was at a loss for how to respond in this instance. Kelsey tried to put on a brave front, but she would break down into tears in a vulnerable moment. Her husband was somber and loving toward her, although bitter in his everyday life for the unfairness of it all. My other sister was full of questions for the doctor about the prognosis and what Kelsey should do to prepare for treatment. For my part, I felt like despairing but then delved headfirst into researching the specific cancer, treatments, and outcomes. I felt like I needed to do all I could to help and support her through this. When I didn't like what I saw as far as statistics, I started looking for alternative or complementary treatments. I read countless articles and books on the role that nutrition and certain foods can play in preventing and even reversing cancerous cells and Mom jumped in, too, sending Kelsey information about cutting sugars and adding healing nutrients. Through the following months, Kelsey went in for regular appointments for additional tests, to discuss options, get a port installed into her chest, and more. Her work was incredibly understanding and gave her plenty of time off to attend to everything she needed. It must have been incredibly stressful for her during this time, especially with a one-year-old to still take care of as if nothing was wrong. However, Kelsey decided early on to face this cancer with hope and optimism, trusting that her body could and was healing itself, and feeling grateful for it. She also started monitoring her diet more closely and taking care of herself in every way that she could think. In my limited research of this and various other cancers, it seems apparent that the standard chemotherapy and radiology treatments may not be as powerful for all types as we previously believed. And they almost always come with real damaging long term side effects down the road. I think education is vital to anyone and everyone who has cancer or knows a close family member with cancer. Educate yourself on various treatments and other options so that you can make better informed choices. Cancer is not a one size fits all and it should be treated with customized plans taking type into account, as well as the holistic health of the patient. Then move forward with confidence in your choice and believe with all your being that your body is getting better every day. What does it take to fight cancer? A supportive family and network, but most importantly, the will and belief to survive and drive on. Keep on keeping on, Kelsey. We all love you.

Dottie P. - San Francisco State University - Read Essay »

Probably not many grandmothers are applying for scholarships for an English/Composition Graduate Program. Even though I am a grandmother, losing my dad to cancer affects me every day and the people I love. I lived with my foster mother and her new husband in my mid-twenties. Cliff was my foster mother's husband. He had five children and embraced me as his own. I called him dad but will refer to him as Cliff in this story. When I married, he walked me down the aisle. My kids called him grandpa. He loved, teased, taught, and played with my kids as if they were his flesh and blood. My children dearly loved him, laughed with him, and spent lots of time with him. Cliff was a painter. He often went into homes destroyed by fire, water, or smoke and he and his crew would repair the damage and repaint the home. He would tear out shingles and replace the roof, rip out drywall, ceiling and flooring tiles and replace them. The crew would insulate all the walls and plumbing and put in new concrete and siding when needed. They repainted everything. These were the materials that Cliff used and breathed in every day. Cliff was kind, funny, and generous with his time and knowledge. He was honest, trustworthy, and dependable. Cliff always worked hard. He knew about a lot of different things. For example, Cliff could fix anything, cars, plumbing, and electrical. He raised and trained dogs to show dogs. Cliff was a whiz with mathematics. He knew about fashion and art. He danced every type of dance from his era and the modern era. Cliff was a renaissance man. He stood all of five feet eight inches but the man loved life, family, and friends, and that made him seem ten feet tall. His hair was thinning so he moved his part to an inch above his ear and used a major comb over. The salt and pepper comb over seemed to suit Cliff and made him even more enduring. Our family loved to camp. Cliff took us all camping at Lake Cachuma above Santa Barbara, Goleta State Beach, Yosemite, Lake Shasta, and many other places. We camped and went white-water rafting on the South Fork of the American River every year. Also, mom and Dad (Cliff) were huge square-dancing enthusiasts. Weekly they would attend at least two square-dancing events, classes, and dances. Cliff adored his family, and his family loved him. When my children were teenagers, Cliff fell off a ladder and broke his hip. It seemed like forever that he was unable to work. That should have been the families first clue because he had fallen at work many times before and the doctor told him he had strong, indestructible bones. Cliff had never broken a bone. We should have at least suspected something was looming in the distance when he broke his hip, and his extra-long time to heal. When his strength returned, he went back to work for four months. One morning, while drinking his morning coffee and waiting for the rest of the crew to show up, he had a coughing spell. Cliff had coughing spells over the years. They were checked out by the doctors, and not much concern was given to them. This day was different. He walked over to the sink to get some water and began coughing up dark red blood. He would never return to work. Our families dark journey was just beginning. Cliff's symptoms were evident, but no one was paying attention. He was thin and couldn't put on weight and was getting thinner. Cliff always had boundless energy, and now mom was canceling engagements because he was too tired, mom also thought he was coming down with something because every night he ran a fever. Mom just said, "his body has gone through so much this year (meaning breaking his hip and the slow healing) that it is just taking a toll on him." The doctors gave Cliff diagnoses of lung cancer. At least this was where the cancer was first found. The doctor told us that cancer could have been hiding for as long as ten years before the doctors discovered it. His diagnoses made sense since every day at work he breathed in asbestos into his lungs from these homes that he and his crew renovated. The surgeon removed a portion of his left lung. He began chemo and radiation. We watched him become weaker and weaker. He lost his appetite even for mom's baking which he previously adored. He was thin to start with, but Cliff became nothing more than a skeleton in a short amount of time. Cliff's comb over that was so endearing to his family had all but vanished. After a short while, there were only wisps of hair. His sense of humor was still intact, but Cliff lost the twinkle from his eyes. Mesothelioma was not talked about in our circles before Cliff died, but the family believes that is what he had since he worked on these asbestos laden homes for 30 plus years. He began his painting career while he was still a teenager. Not long after completing the first round of chemo, Cliff's right shoulder and arm pronounced with pain and that pain grew until he could barely move them. Mom took him in for tests, and there was cancer throughout his shoulder bones and spine. They raised his pain med's, and he hallucinated. When Hospice came our family sat vigil at his bedside. Even holding his hand became too much work for him. A man with so much vigor was wasting before our eyes and could do nothing. The pain of losing our dad, friend and hero was unbearable. Life goes on but with a sense of a huge part was missing. Hospice helped him for three and half weeks then Cliff took his last breath. He was the life of our home that brought everyone together. Cliff died when he was 58 years old. My mom lost her soul mate, and to this day she carries his death as a dark hole in her spirit. As she nears eternity, she misses Cliff more. My kids tell stories about grandpa and think about all he has missed, weddings, births, vacations, birthdays, graduations and so much more. How can a value be put on a person's life? Our lives touch so many others and overlap in the lives of who we allow close to us. Cliff was big as life in a quiet, loving manner. He was our glue. Day to day he was our families rock, his life, love, and laughter filled every nook and cranny of our home and hearts. The day Cliff drew his last breath fractured our family. Cliff's five children who we called brother and sister for twenty years, we no longer see. For a while after Cliff died we still keep in contact with one another and saw them frequently, now only one of Cliff's daughter's see mom and me. Cliff was our glue, and it is now noticeably missing. People working with chemicals and toxic substances should protect themselves while working and those working with asbestos usually do. Healthy nutrition free from pesticides is something we as family try to do now. My foster mom is a six-year breast cancer survivor and I was with her every step of the way. It was scary at the thought of losing her too. Watching her hair fall out and her becoming frail. She has become strong again but has neuropathy in her feet as a result of chemo. We try to live healthy lifestyles. I am attending San Francisco State grad program because I want to write and be an encouragement to others who suffer illness, loss, abuse, and fear. Cancer is ugly and merciless but it does not need to defeat us. Life does not need to defeat us either. I would like to teach students to use their voice through writing to overcome and stand strong in life. Perhaps when designing this scholarship having someone as old as I never crossed your mind, but my life has been affected by Cliff's life as much as the next person's life who lost a loved one. I did not have a dad until Cliff came into my life. My biological mother died when I was eight years old and I never had a father. I was placed in a foster home and when I was fifteen years old, Joyce became my foster mother (I call her mom to this day). Through the years I have seen her suffer at Cliff's loss and at the fractured family we have become without Cliff who held us together. Please consider my application. Thank you.

Eleanor S. - American InterContinental University - Read Essay »

What it Takes to Fight Cancer It takes courage, patience, strength, understanding and the love of family. Cancer is a progressive disease that eats away at your love one's body and can be fatal. I have seen up close and person how cancer can progress in a matter of months. I had to see my mother suffer with this disease to the point that she had tears in her eyes from the pain. When she was first diagnosing with throat cancer she beat it and was cancer for 2 years then it came back. It came back stronger than ever to the point that it had spreader over her entire body. When she was going through the treatment for the first time she told me that if it comes back she would be though and it did. It divested me, because she was dancing and other things that liked to do before she was first diagnose. It looked like she was going to be alright and the next thing I know she was gone. Cancer can destroy a family emotion and financial, because sometimes you are not prepared to except the fact that it is over and there is nothing you can do. I have had family members die from this disease. Cancer runs in my family I have had a brother, great uncle, uncle, grandmother and now a mother to be taken away from us with different kind of cancer. It can be hard on the family that is left here to carry on without having their love ones here. When mother passed it was hard I became depressed, because I really did not grieve when she first died. I would not allow myself to grieve, because I felt like I had to stay strong for everyone else. It is important that family help it each other instead of one person trying to do it alone or think that they have to be strong for everyone else' Education is important to fighting cancer, because if my mother would had been diagnose earlier the doctor said she may have had a better change of living. The doctors, hospital and insurance companies need to put their patience health first. The reason I say that is because a lot of times cancer would be detected earlier if the doctors was not limited to testing their patients. We need to find a way that we could educate people on the diverse types of cancer and the symptoms to watch for. It would give the patient a chance to decide rather they need to go to the doctor also the insurance companies and the government need to change their guide line on what and when you can be tested for cancer.

Elizabeth M. - Pima Medical Institute - Read Essay »

Cancer is a disease that wants to take everything from you. So it takes everything a person has to fight that battle. When it becomes a battle of life or death it seems like it would be an easy decision to keep giving every piece of fight a person has but it is not that simple. Cancer isn't a battle that can be won overnight, or in a week, or in a month. It takes tenacity, determination, patience and constant support. When cancer keeps coming back and a person wants to rest, one of the biggest reasons to keep fighting is the people that would be left behind. After a so many trials and challenges it is easy to see that cancer patients no longer fight for themselves but for their loved ones. Once a person is diagnosed with cancer their lives are forever changed. For the lucky ones that beat the disease constant monitoring is required so cancer does not sneak back into their lives again. This is why such a horrible disease requires tenacity because the "Big C" is one of the most tenacious disease out there. Patients can get paranoid with every doctors visit for it feels like a tumor is right around the corner ready to infect the unsuspecting victim when they turn off the lights. The corruption of the healthy human body with a tumor is more than just a physical battle. The constant doctors' appointments, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapies and clinical trials become a lifestyle that has been forced on an unwilling victim. The mental battle that a patient, family member, loved one, goes through on a daily basis shows on their faces, their movements and the very breaths they take. Every trip to the hospital, every rushed movement to the bathroom to throw up, every sneaking thought of "It's okay to give up, you have worked hard enough," has to be fought with determination in order to win the war. The saying hurry up and wait is a very hated phrase in the world of a sufferer. The situations of hurry up to take this test because the person's very life depends on it and then the waiting of the results that seem to last years is a trial all in itself. Some people even say that is one of the worst part of the disease. "Am I going to live? Am I going to die?" are horrible questions to be thinking when a person is lying in bed at night, wishing for sleep. On the other side of the playing field with the significant others, the waiting to know if they will have weeks, months, years or forever to spend with that precious person becomes such an important question but one, more often times than not, is not easily answered. It's hard to watch a person that is loved and cared for so much battle something so malicious and feel so utterly helpless in their plight for survival. To watch as that person has moments where they become the strength of the family, reassuring them that they will beat the sickness, that they have no reason to worry. The moments where the family members know that the victim will break down behind closed doors and there is seemingly nothing that can be done. In this fight against the disease known as cancer, the support that family, friends and even neighbors can provide is simply invaluable even though they themselves do not know it. Those people are the ones giving these seemingly positive, strong and beautiful patients the strength to keep fighting every second of their lives. It takes everything to fight cancer. It takes the patients everything. It takes the family and their support system everything to fight cancer. In order to win the war, it takes the strength of the commanders, strategists, and the grunts working together to support one another and fighting for something bigger than themselves. For the people that did not claim victory on the battlefield, they leave something precious behind, memories and a strength that will be passed on for generations. There is no losing in the battle against cancer. Only winning or learning more amazing qualities these people have. My grandmother has taught me about fighting the battle that she has won multiple times. Now I take her teachings and fight the "Big C' battle myself. A battle I will continue to win.

Emily H. - University of Massachusetts Amherst - Read Essay »

Cancer is such a heavy word. Anytime anyone hears they have cancer, it's like a weight has been put on their shoulders. A cancer diagnosis can take some much life out of someone. It takes the support of those who love you to help you fight the disease. If you don't have the support of someone, it makes it hard to get through the stressful times and treatment. Family, friends, loved ones, they are all a big part of anyone's life. Loved ones can influence our lives in many ways. I know my loved ones have done so much to support me and point me in the right direction when I stray in the wrong direction. Those who are close to you can see when something is going on, whether it is good or bad. They have the ability to see you in a light that you can't see yourself; having that perspective is important when you are going through an important and life changing event. They can remind you of who you are and what you are capable of, even when you want to give up. The fight against cancer requires this reminder as a way of reminding you you are more than your disease. My family has been affected by cancer on so many levels. From family friends, all the way to my grandparents. My mom passed from cancer about fifteen year ago. My cousin passed away from cancer almost two years ago. My grandmother has had breast cancer twice. My grandfather has had bladder cancer. The common theme of everyone who has been affected in my family is the level of support from the rest of the family. My cousin had many of us contact him to ask how he was, myself included. It hurts to see someone about your own age going through this, especially when you were so close as children. As a family member, though, your job becomes reminding them of who they are and what they have to fight for. Sometimes, it can be patronizing, I'm sure, to have someone who hasn't gone through what you are going through telling you what to do. This outside perspective though shows how much people out there love you. I tried to remind my cousin every week, if not every day, that I loved him and that I would be there for him no matter what. My cousin, Kyle, was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a very rare form of bone cancer that only has two hundred diagnoses a year. When this happened, I was already looking at and applying to schools to receive an education that would help me someday research cancer. It hit me hard to find out that my cousin/close friend had been diagnosed with cancer. Not only did I encourage him to fight, but he helped me by telling me I needed to live my dream, no matter what. That is what loved ones do, they support each other. My education, and education in general, is important to the fight against cancer because you need a foundation in the biological aspects of what is going. That foundation helps those think of unique and new perspectives to bring into the research field. Education also weeds out people who discover researching cancer isn't what they want to do, which is important too. People need to be dedicated to the research they're doing. If they aren't, then the research doesn't progress. You have to being interested and be able to push the boundaries of our knowledge farther than they are now. Education does more than just teach students how things work, it shows students where their interests lie and how to apply and feed that interest. Loving someone is an amazing thing. Not just a romantic type of love, but being able to care about someone enough to want to push them and remind them of who they are. Internal characteristics are important, but things like strength and courage can be hard to muster if you are unsure of yourself. Having people by your side to show you who you are and who you can be is important. Their dedication can help drive your dedication and your strength. They give you a reason to fight. They are the reason to fight.

Hailey H. - Anna Maria College - Read Essay »

It takes a lot of strength to fight cancer. It takes a lot out of an individual fighting cancer, family members, and friends. An individual needs a good support system, hope, courage, and determination to fight cancer. However, above all, an individual needs love and to fully understand their definition of fate versus faith. Fate is the belief that what happens is meant to be, whereas faith is the belief that everything will be ok in the end. My Nina, Florence was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2009. I loved my Nina very much, and I did not realize how much she had changed in a short amount of time. She was once very healthy and enjoyed going on outings with her family and friends. She appeared to be very happy and like herself, but deep down I knew that there was something wrong. In her final months, she was losing so much weight, and was not like herself. She was in a lot of pain, and it was very sad to see a loved one change before my eyes. She passed away from Leukemia on July 24th, 2010, and I will never forget that day. It was the worst day of my entire life. An encounter with a nurse on that day made me feel a little bit better, even though all I wanted to do was pretend that day never happened. A tall nurse with curly black hair came up to me when I was visibly upset and gave me a hug. That simple act of kindness has impacted my entire life. It may not seem like a lot, but to me it was. When cleaning out my Nina's house, we found a packet that she hid under her bed with a diagnoses that she had cancer. I believe that she never told anyone about her cancer or sought out treatment for it, because she had fate and faith. Fate that it was meant to be, and faith that there is a heaven. She did not want to undergo chemotherapy or make anyone feel sad or sorry for her, which is why she never told anyone. The last conversation I had with her was about what I was going to school for. I was a freshman in high school at the time, and I told her I wanted to be a nurse to help pediatric oncology patients. My dream is to become a pediatric oncology nurse at St. Jude's Medical Center. My journey through nursing school has not been easy at all. This year has been filled with many adversities. However, I always look at the positives. I failed my nursing pharmacology class by 0.1% of a point (I needed a 77% to pass) which meant that I had to stay back a year. I am not the type of person who gives up easily, so I appealed my grade to the dean and won. I retook the final exam and did not pass, since they made the test even harder. During the semester I had off from nursing classes, I picked up a psych minor and made the dean's list as a full-time student. This coming fall, I am retaking the pharmacology class over again as a part-time student while working 32 hours a week. Adversity is not going to stop me from achieving my dreams. Just like my Nina, I strive always to be my best self. Not every day is perfect, but there is always something good in each day. A one word answer of what it takes to fight cancer is strength. Strength applies to many things in life, and I have trust that fate is a part of my life, just as it played a significant role in my Nina's life. This scholarship would mean the world to me. My car recently broke down, so I have to take out another loan to buy a car that is dependable (I commute to school), and due to my part time status at school, I have to start paying off the $50,000 of student loans I have accumulated. On top of that, I owe the college $3,000 to retake the class, since I am not eligible for financial aid due to being part time. Despite being in so much debt, I always look at the bright side. I will one day have the honor to care for someone else's loved one and family members, just as great nurses have cared for mine. Thank you for taking the time to read my submission.

Helena J. - Pennsylvania State University - Read Essay »

October, 1998 A mother with three young boys was living a very hectic schedule, balancing the care of her children with a part-time job as a pharmacist, when she received some news. Her mother, the three young boys' grandmother, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and given three weeks to live. Overwrought with the emotions of the grandmother's declining health, the care of her three young boys, and her career, the mother started feeling sick; every morning she found herself throwing up. At first she thought it was grief and stress, but as time passed, the mother started feeling… different. Not wanting to ignore this feeling, she took a pregnancy test. Positive. Two days later, the grandmother passed away. What was diagnosed so quickly had ended in just the same way. But there was still hope. As one life ended, a new one was on its way. Nine months into the future, a child was born. That's where I come in. Born on June 10, 1999, I was brought into this world, bright eyed and fully unaware of how my grandmother and I were already so intertwined. When my parents started thinking of girl names, my mother realized something. Her deceased mother's name was Helen, and her birthday was June 11 - one day after mine. With our lives already overlapping so much, my mother only thought it fitting that I should be named after Helen. However, she realized that I would be different from my grandmother, so my name should mirror this. Helena. Only one letter away from my grandmother's name, and a Polish name so I could always remember my roots. This would mark my family's first experience with cancer. This past November marked the ninth year that my grandfather passed away, and it was the first time I was able to cry about it. I was eight years old when he died, and only seven when he was diagnosed. Colon cancer. Or what started out as colon cancer, but later spread to his entire body. My grandfather was my world when I was younger. We called him "Dziadzi" which means grandpa in Polish (pronounced jah-jee). I would come home from school everyday, run downstairs to see him, and we would play card games. Our favorite was war, but I always cheated. I would look at my cards under the table, playing the same card three times in a row so I could win. Now in retrospect, I realize my cheating was very obvious, but of course my grandfather would humor me and tell me how good I was at the game. When he was first diagnosed, I didn't really know what cancer was. I knew it was bad. Real bad. Before this, I'd heard stories of my grandmother's fight with cancer, but it was never a reality for me. I wasn't able to comprehend what Dziadzi's diagnosis would mean for us in the future, but I soon found out. No more playing cards after school, because there would always be a nurse at our house to bathe and take care of him. When this wasn't the case, he would have doctor's appointments, so I wouldn't see him as much. At that age, barely having any idea as to what cancer was and certainly not knowing how doctors treat it, I was completely oblivious to all the pain he was going through. But I could tell something was wrong. I seldom saw the sparkle in his eyes, and I could see that he was trying to hide his pain. My grandfather and my parents tried to keep me in the dark, which I assume was meant to showcase the phrase "ignorance is bliss." I can tell you from experience, ignorance is not bliss. When Dziadzi passed away, I didn't know how to feel. My whole family came over to our house that morning, and they were all crying. I guess I was still in shock, because I couldn't bring myself to shed a single tear at his loss. Fast forward nine years to sometime after Christmas 2016. I was taking a shower, and it suddenly crashed over me like a tsunami that was just now coming to shore. I started bawling my eyes out, the hot water of the shower mixing with my tears. He didn't deserve any of that. He was a good man. He fought in World War II for the Polish Army, had been imprisoned in a concentration camp, and tried to kill himself while in the camp until a nun helped him. He escaped with the help of that same nun, and he moved to America, found the love of his life, and had a family. But none of that mattered. He had survived so much and stayed alive against so many odds; how could something as small as a cancer cell kill someone so great? He was a hero, but I guess cancer doesn't choose its next victim with much thought. It just takes life after life, remorselessly attacking those who least deserve it. Those were the words that I found myself thinking as I was finally able to feel any emotion about his death. Now aware of the pain and suffering that he went through, and the fact that I just watched from the sidelines as I noticed him becoming more distant from his former self, I couldn't help but cry. I know that as an eight year old there was nothing I could have done to help his cancer, but I could have at least let him win a few rounds of war. I wish I remembered my last words to him, but whenever I try to think of them, I - I'll stop the essay right there. Just like cancer so quickly stopped the lives of those my family and I loved, this essay will end in the same way. Disjointed and unsatisfyingly over. The prompt of this essay is what does it take to fight cancer, and to that I say it takes courage, optimism, and a strong will to survive, but that doesn't always work. That's why as I look to my future education, I strive to become a biomedical engineer, who can develop technologies for better drug delivery systems, more advanced treatment options, new machinery to aid in early detection, or even a possible cure. Although we are all impacted differently by cancer, in the end it's the same fight, and it will take all of us on the front lines to end the fight.

Ila B. - Miami University - Read Essay »

A Battle That Was Never an Equal Match Cancer by definition is known as, "the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body." To clarify, cancer cannot be termed in a single definition. Cancer weakens your body, weakens your livelihood, empowers your emotions and halts your conviction in restored health. Loved ones gather together with bonding faiths, on tenterhooks awaiting those simple words spoken by the doctors, "remission." Fighting cancer is not only a physical battle with abnormal cells, but an emotional battle furthermore. Cancer prompts illness within the mind body and soul, an emotional upheaval. While some patients are fortunate to hear those spoken curing words others will never have the chance to carry out their journey, they are defeated by this horrible disease. Victims from cancer will always hold a special place in my heart, as they battled a hard fight fed from innocence on their behalf. Cancer treatments have thankfully radically expanded life expectancies for victims within the past few decades. Radiation, Chemo-therapy and alternative treatments have been studied and tested much more heavily, than on the contrary in previous times. Cancer patients currently have several different treatment paths that they may pick from, whereas past victims were to be made as "comfortable," as possible while the cancer took its toll. My great-grandfather, by the name of Clifford Cain was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in the late 1980's. The doctors proceeded with radiation which was meant to irradiate the cancer completely, but unfortunately did not. The doctors did what they could with medical expertise at the time and sent Clifford home to return in a year for a follow up. When he returned the doctors found that the cancer had spread to his bones, with no treatment that could eradicate this type of cancer, passing away in 1991. Another family member, my great-grandfather by the name of Andrew Kotoff passed away the same year (1991) from Colon Cancer. Colon Cancer, a very common cancer, had limited types of Chemo-therapy treatment at the time. There was only one Chemo regime that they tested on Andrew and it did not work well with his cells, he too passed away shortly after he was diagnosed. I hope new cancer treatments continue to be released as many patient's bodies will deny certain treatments causing their cancer to become uncurbable, a battle with no fight. Dating back to 2006, a family member very close to me ended her battle to cancer. Juanita Virginia Kotoff, my great-grandmother. A wise and compassionate woman, who was responsible for my rooted beliefs and morals I hold today, eleven years later. I am very fortunate to have such a close knit-family, this being said, her battle with cancer, was our battle as well. Junita was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2000. I was just two years old when my great-grandmother was diagnosed, but her battle seized to varnish until I was eight years old. At this time, still young, I had a firm grasp of the toll that cancer takes on your loved ones. I remember the somber trips to The James Cancer Hospital after her one of her four surgeries, always lively, I held her hand as we walked down the florescent lit hallways during her recovery from her latest procedure. Needless to say, she led a fearless and confident battle. Her major cancerous area was her throat; the operations would leave her with a lengthy line of staples, which was daunting at my age to look at, to see up close the pain she was rendered. She was also given several rounds of radiation, which left burns on her face and neck although she had a custom-made mask to protect from such radiating heat. The cancer was distracting, but I do hold fond memories very close to my heart, when her battle was put on the back burner. Juanita's cancer made it very hard for her to swallow after a surgery had damaged her vocal chords, therefore a feeding tube was implemented for sufficient nourishment for the last six years of her life. One year, on a warm sunny May Day we celebrated her birthday, the last birthday she was around for. We lit the candles, sung for her and topped off the celebration with giving her a piece of cake. Something so simple, but a moment that she was not able to experience for most of her battle. I remember driving down the road as I sat in the backseat and every time we passed a Wendy's she would share that she had been craving a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger for YEARS. She made light of any moment, a trait that I aspire to hold. As her battle neared the end, she was put in Hospice. Unable to speak, and unconscious majority of her stay, my mother, grandmother and aunts would come rub lotion on her frail skin as the children would foolishly run around the room as if we were energizer bunnies. I'm not so sure if she heard us in those moments, but I could tell you I think she would have been happy as she always cherished being surrounded by family. As we would say our goodbyes after each visit she would grasp our hands tightly, as a snug sign that she loved us. At her service, I remember the overwhelming amount of people that poured into the funeral home, she was very loved, as she loved many. A long life, beginning in 1925 and ending to cancer in 2006, it is a gentle reminder of the resilience that cancer victims embody. Her spirit was never dented, this strong woman with tough skin and a tender heart could face any obstacle, but her final obstacle was too big to overcome. Juanita is only one of millions that are diagnosed with cancer around the world, everyday battles begin and battles end. Cancer has no barriers; victims come from all backgrounds, all genders, all ages and all economic statuses. Innocence is served the injustice of the battle for health and the will to live cancer free, hard fought and painful. Surely, the sun will shine once again, but it takes character and resilience to see the sun shining as restored hope and take the bull by the horns, fighting a battle that was never an equal match. Tender words with a humorous spin spoken by Dr. Seuss, "I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind, some come from ahead and some come from behind, But I've bought a big bat, I'm all ready you see, now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"

Isabel M. - DePaul University - Read Essay »

If you would have told me a year ago that my mom would be diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn't believe you. It was my second quarter of college and exactly two days in my parents came to tell me the news. I held it together when they initially told me but I lost it when I got back to my dorm. I cried a lot and for multiple nights. If there's one thing I mastered in college, it's being able to cry silently. I hid the diagnosis from all my new friends and felt guilty for not being home enough. I guess what it takes to fight cancer is a different experience for everyone related to a person who is affected by it. For me it was coming to terms that my mom may have this for the rest of her life but she has a very high chance of beating this disease. Initially I googled the disease which is always a mistake. Websites no matter what diseases it is always seems to say the person will die. In my fragile state I started to panic, what if my mom won't be there to help pick out my wedding dress or see the kids I have. For the final quarter of my freshmen year I moved around my schedule so I'd have a four-day weekend so that I could go home if my mom ever needed it. I think I went home more than most of the people I met in my first year of college. I think what helps to fight cancer is to be there. Even if it's just for a little bit. I went to one of her chemo treatments and I felt bad because she would go to work afterwards. Her work provided her with no sick days not even for the treatments. She was really committed to go on vacation so she had to save her days off to only when she really needed it. I think it takes a strong person to fight cancer and the strongest person I know is my mom. She keeps a job she doesn't like so that me and my sister can go to college, this is something she never had the opportunity to complete. She kept going even when the chemo made her tired. Right now were waiting for the results of her pet scan. Soon we will know if the tumor in her back has shrunk and hopefully all the cancer cells will be gone. I think if I was more educated on the subject of cancer I may have not had an anxiety attack or cried as much as I did. My mom and my families lucky that we live in a time where modern medicine is so advanced so that my mom and my aunt can live long and fulfilling lives. Education will help even more advancements in the medical field and I hope one day every cancer can be fully cured. I think it's hard for anyone to be diagnosed with cancer and the people around them have to deal with the repercussions that are associated with this. I know that my family and my mom was lucky to be diagnosed with a cancer that wasn't life threatening. Moving forward my family is stronger than ever and after my first year of college I feel that it can only get better from here.

Jarod F. - Appalachian State - Read Essay »

What It Takes To Fight Cancer by Jarod Fyler In 2013 my father was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. He had been complaining of abdominal pain for a few months and had been to his primary care physician who could not find anything wrong.Finally, my mother convinced him to go to the Emergency Department and after he underwent a CT Scan he had his diagnosis. He underwent chemotherapy and is now cancer free. I had a front row view of his and my mothers struggle, and I have spent a good amount of time talking to my parents about this topic. Therefore, I believe that I am qualified to answer this question. A Competent Oncologist This, you may say, is obvious. However, my friend's aunt recently died from breast cancer. She found out early that she had breast cancer but decided to avoid an oncologist and go to an alternative healer that she found in Mexico. Needless to say, things did not turn out well for her. The oncologist should be competent not only in treatment but also in handling the patient and family. Sometimes the oncologist even has to act as a therapist! For example, my Dad was initially going to refuse treatment. His abdominal pain cleared up and he for what seemed an inexplicable reason to us, his family, thought that he should perhaps wait and forgo treatment. His oncologist, after a talk with him, correctly diagnosed that my father was going through denial, and he told my father and mother that. My mother knowing what the issue was at that point, was able to help my father accept his diagnosis. My father went on to accept the treatment. 2. Family Support We, as a family, got together and each did what we could to support my father. The way I offered support was to do some of things around the house that he used to do. I'm sorry to say that I was one of those kids that would always complain about doing chores, but I stopped arguing and did my share of yard work plus some. My bother actually cooked when my mother couldn't. Oftentimes during my fathers chemotherapy, he would want to eat different things and my brother would cook these special meals if my mother couldn't. Finally, my father is self employed. Needless to say, the family finances took a big hit. My brother and I did not notice a big change because my Mother actually started working a second job in addition to her full time job. My father did not like this, but I could tell that he was relieved that they could still pay the mortgage an my brother and I could continue with sports and music lessons. 3. Ability to Reach Out For Help My father had to get to the point where he could accept help. My Dad is very proud, and at first did not want to tell anyone outside of our immediate family that he was ill. I hate to say this, but at one point he refused to leave the house when he lost weight from the chemotherapy as he was concerned that people would know that he was ill and start to "pity" him; he wouldn't even go grocery shopping. He finally talked to his sister who was a breast cancer survivor. He was glad that he did. She gave him great advice as to what to expect during chemotherapy. Once he opened up, he was surprised about the amount of solid support that he received. He didn't get pity, he got offers to help with yard work, offers to work with my brother on football when my Dad was physically unable to do so. One of his friends even set him up with a Macrobiotic nutrition counselor who gave him advice on the foods that he should eat to support him through his recovery. 4.Education Education is also very important in fighting cancer. At first, we were all afraid of the word " Cancer." However, with the guidance of the oncologist we were able to learn about Non Hodgkin Lymphoma and its treatment. We learned what the chemotherapy actually was and its effects on the body. In this way we were able to somewhat understand what the course of my father's illness would be. 5. Hope The final piece I think that one needs to successfully fight cancer is hope. Not only a belief that one can get better, but a hope the grows out of a strong desire to live for others. Also, I hope and believe that every second of life is precious. My Dad always said that he would suffer anything so he could be there to guide me and my brother to adulthood. Now, I am not naive. I know that there are those who had all of the above and still perished. But the title of this essay is what it takes to fight cancer, not what it takes to win. While fighting may prolong ones life, the fight may not always end in a complete victory. However, I firmly believe that anyone who practices the above, can win the fight to continue to enjoy their lives and the people that surround them.

Jeffrey W. - Boston University - Read Essay »

My father recently overcame a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. He had me at a relatively older age; a fact that I was aware of even as a child. In the back of my mind, I've always known that it was likely that I would be given less time to spend with my father then most people get. This knowledge has always taught me to cherish every moment that I get to spend with him. But as I grew older, I realized that his age didn't matter. There is no way to predict how long we will get to spend with the people that our love. They can be taken from us at any time; without notice. The universe tends to pay very little attention to our plans. It is a grim fact to be sure, but it teaches us how important our lives are. When there is a cancer diagnosis, it forces you to face this fact head on. It forces you to confront the idea of the loss of a loved one; a thought so painful that we tend to push it as far from our minds as possible. Cancer creates a grim reality, and it takes strength to keep pushing forward in spite of it. But that strength doesn't need to just come from within. You can find strength in these trying times through the people that love and support you. When you feel tired or weak, it is their strength that can lift you up. And when those around you grow weary, it can be your strength in spite of such terrible adversary that inspires them. Cancer is a terrible burden in life, and no one should be forced to go through it alone. My father chose to go through it alone. When he received his diagnosis, he didn't tell anyone in the family. It was only after he had overcome the disease that he had chosen to tell us what had happened. Naturally, my family was shocked and we were searching for some type of explanation. He stated that he did not wish to worry us. He knew that if he told us what he was going through, our thoughts would consumed with concerned for his health. He was not wrong on this point and thought that by choosing not to tell us, he was sparing us from this grief. With all due respect to my father, this is an absolutely terrible idea. Many people who receive a cancer diagnosis do not have the option of hiding their disease from the people around of them. The reality of their situation will not allow it. But to anyone who thinks that dealing with the disease alone is a suitable way to handle it, I would strongly urge you to reconsider that outlook. When my father had told us that he had beaten cancer, everybody felt relief. But that relief came after strong feelings of fear and grief. We were still confronted with the reality of the disease and the thought of losing a person we truly cared about. What made it even worse were the accompanying feelings of guilt that we all felt. My family was forced to face the reality that we were not there for my father in one of the most trying moments of his life. That guilt can possess you for a long time. I understand that this was not my father's intention, but you cannot control how people feel by doing what you think is best for them. We all wanted to be there for them. That is what you do when you love somebody. His decision had taken from us the chance to help and forced to deal with the fact that he had forced himself to deal with this disease alone. When I was younger I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma, and I felt a great deal of relief knowing that my family was there to help me regardless of what happened. I wished now that I could have been there for my father as he was there for me on that day, and throughout my entire life. Something as terrible as cancer should not be dealt with alone. If you have recently been diagnosed, it is important to let the people who care about you know. It's going to upset them, there is no changing that. But they will be upset because they care, and they will feel better if they can help. Allow the people who love you to be there for you. It will be better for you and for them. The question of what it takes to fight cancer is a difficult one to answer. But I think that the most important trait is strength. Not only the inner strength to fight the disease, but the strength to open yourself up to those around you in one of the darkest periods of your life. There is strength in allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and that should never be forgotten. Allow those that you love to lift you up in these times, just as you would do for them. That is what it takes to fight cancer.

Joseph L. - University of Southern California - Read Essay »

My grandfather was a very non-confrontational man in virtually every area of his life. He was perfectly content spending time alone watching his television shows every day and living through his retirement in a routine manner. He shopped at the same grocery store, ate out at the same restaurant, went to the same auto shop for any work he needed done, and even attended the same church his entire life. Once he got married he never moved again. He lived in the same house for nearly sixty years and he was perfectly happy where he was. Family time meant more to him than anything else in the world. His home was always a place that you could come and relax and not have to worry about anything. He was a realist. He would speak the truth and never pretended to hide anything from anyone, he just did not see the point in being dishonest or treating someone unfairly. His beliefs and approach to life never changed, not even when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As hard as it was for the family, everyone knew that people's health generally deteriorates with time and that no one lives forever. My grandfather was over eighty years old when his health really started to change. Everyone stayed positive, even after he was diagnosed. He did not want anything to change, even after he started chemotherapy. Although he accepted his limited physical state and that he should not perform certain physical activities anymore, he did his best to keep everything the same. His openness and willingness to talk about his symptoms was crucial for the family. Choosing to inform the family with all the details was critical to the family because they wanted to feel close to him, and knowing the details helped make them feel included. The more informed everyone around him was the easier the entire process became. The entire family always gathered at my grandparent's house while growing up. It was always the meeting place for everyone, even during the holidays and all the special family occasions. People would often show up just to say hi and spend a little time with them. Even though this was a regular thing for my family, the visits increased once he was diagnosed with the cancer. The diagnosis made everything real for the family. It became a reality as we could easily notice the physical changes that were happening to his body. The love and support that my grandfather had was more than anything he could have wanted. This was the biggest motivator for him. He knew the family he had made loved him more than anything in the world and that they were willing to do anything for him, and he wanted to do the same in return. He battled and was willing to fight the cancer because he did not want the family to think he was giving up. They were not giving up on him, and because of that he chose not to give on them either. The true battle, for both my family and my grandfather, was about accepting the reality and understanding that no one lives forever. Although we may have wanted him to have eternal life, or even wished that we could have traded places with him so that he could still be here today, he would not have wanted that. His understanding about what was going on and his willingness to accept help was crucial, not just for his overall well being for the period of time he had left, but also for the family's peace of mind that he was being taken care of as much as possible. Everyone understood that with the advancements that had been made in the medical industry over the last few decades the best chance at beating the cancer was with medical assistance. This was crucial in my grandfather's battle with cancer. He believed and understood the advancements in technology because the major advancements that have been made all occurred over his lifetime. He knew what life was like for people when he was younger, and that if he had this illness around the time period when he was ten years old then there would not have been a chance to beat the cancer. The treatment had a proven track record, and his knowledge about the medical advancements gave him the belief that he could actually beat the cancer. It was clear that there was no guarantee that the chemotherapy would work, but the treatment clearly increased the amount of time that he had to spend with his family, and we all just wanted more time together.

Just R. - Life University - Read Essay »

Cancer survivors are today's super heroes. Many people agree with this in today's society, cancer is an epidemic. With millions of deaths each year it takes more than synthetic medicines to cure this disease. It all starts with prevention. Our bodies are priceless and I can prove this, watch. Would you sell you eyesight for a million dollars? Would you sell your arms for 10 million dollars? Did not think so. The body is priceless and taking care of it is important. Thy should treat family with respect and take care of animals, so you should take care of yourself. This means eating healthy, surrounding oneself around good positive people, working out, clear of exposure to toxins and any other cancerous chemicals. Prevention is the best way to steer clear of cancer. However, this may only reduce the chances of developing cancer. Screening can also help catch any potential cancerous tumors before it becomes fatal. If someone happens to still develop cancer there are multiple routes to take depending on type and stage. There are many herbal remedies, and pharmaceutical medicines a person with cancer may take to cure the cancer. Also, continuing good healthy habits are encouraged. Chemotherapy and surgeries should be last resort. The body has annate, it's own intelligence in healing itself. The same way a person may have a wound and it heals, the bodies own intelligence makes that happen. Chiropractors practice this by removing interference in the spinal vetebrae's subluxations. This practice is by means of manipulation and allowing the body to heal itself. There are many routes to take depending on a person's belief. I believe this is what it takes for a person to fight cancer. A great mindset is needed for anything to go in a positive direction and especially when fighting cancer. These people are super heroes, with super powers. Their bodies fight off cancer on the molecular level and this allows the body to live longer and healthier. Fighting cancer is a fight for life. It is fought alone, but the assistance and motivation from others goes a long way. Anything helps at this point, the person fighting will take anything positive as it fights on 24/7. Fighting cancer takes guts, will power and a great support team. As a cancer survivor myself, it was the most challenging fight of my life, but I was able to overcome that chapter in my life. I have made life changes and life with a different perspective. I am not the best writer, in fact I am a horrible writer, but I have applied to this only scholarship because it touched me. I felt I should express my thoughts and experience in words to hopefully impact another person's life that may be going through a battle of their own. Whether it be cancer or any other fight, the fight is yours. Step up, take your best shot and persevere. Many take health for granted, we are mostly all born healthy. If this happened to you what would you do different?

Kang X. - San Francisco State University - Read Essay »

Other than family, faith, and medicine, I believe it also takes acceptance to fight cancer. When I was 13 years old, my father who was in his mid 60's was diagnosed with colon cancer. For two and a half years my father was optimistic that he would beat his cancer but after several sessions of chemotherapy every month, his prognosis never improved. In December of 2006 my father gathered the family and announced that he was going to suspend his chemotherapy sessions. After my father's announcement, his doctor anticipated a six-month life expectancy. In May of 2007, shortly after I had just finished taking my AP US History exam, the classroom phone rang. Waiting in the administration office was my older brother who came to pick up my siblings and I to take us to the hospital to see our father before he passed away. During the time of my father's announcement I felt as if he was giving up on his life and on his family. As I grew older, I gained more understanding of his decision. I remember my father having a difficult recovery period after every chemotherapy treatment. Every month he would gain and lose between 10 to 20 pounds and with all the medication he was taking, his mental state started to deteriorate. Even with the best medicine available, his quality of life was not improving and the stress of his ordeal was a heavy strain on the family. His acceptance of his cancer prognosis was not a death sentence but a chance for both him and the family to be free of his burdens and continue on with life whether in the physical or spiritual world. Two years after my father's passing, my 3-year-old nephew developed a persistent cough that would not abate. After visiting his pediatrician and having his chest x-rayed, there was the discovery that a tumor was growing next to one of his lungs and a pathology report confirmed that the tumor was cancerous. Many of my siblings including myself had come to terms with my father's decision of taking responsibility of his passing; however, this time we were determined to not let cancer win round two. Traveling to my nephew's surgeries was difficult for my brother and sister-in-law since they lived a 5-hour drive from the Cancer Center Children's Hospital in Oakland where my nephew was situated; however, my nephew's entire family and the wonderful nurses there made sure he was never alone or scared. My siblings and I decided to visit him a day after his surgery to celebrate his belated birthday but no one would have ever guessed he had surgery by the huge smile on his face. Six years later after a number of doctor visits and surgeries, my nephew was 99.9% clear of cancer. Cancer can be an overwhelming and life-changing event and a reality for many families. My family chose not to dwell on the sadness that cancer brought but accepted cancer in order to grow closer as a family, stronger individually and most importantly to move on with life. My father's battle taught me that there will be many ups and downs in life and in order to go high you must start low and when you start falling down there is always the prospect of a hill after every valley. There are some things in life that we cannot control but all we can do is make the most out of it. With my nephew's battle, he taught me that no matter how small you are or feel there are small joys in life that can give you strength. Over all, I have learned to accept life for what it is and no matter whatever obstacles I may encounter, these hindrances should not dictate how I should enjoy my life. One year after my father passed away, a few of my classmates experienced similar tragedies where their father also passed from cancer. We now live in an age where medicine can cure maladies that have killed hundreds and thousands of people centuries and even decades ago. As society can now afford longevity, the occurrence of cancer has become more pronounced. Before my father's diagnosis I had never heard of cancer and it was not until college that I understood the gravity of cancer. As more kids and teenagers are bound to have a family member afflicted by cancer, schools should provide resources to teach students what to expect from cancer, how to cope with the struggles cancer can bring and for the students to know that they can help fight against cancer. On an academia level, cancer research needs to continue because for many people throughout the world, some forms of cancer are death sentences. I am grateful for the continual progress and success of cancer technologies and treatments because without it, I would not have been able to wish my nephew a happy birthday the following year.

Kathleen E. - Northeastern University - Read Essay »

When I was nine years old, my father was diagnosed with liposarcoma. My mom had to take him to Boston every day for radiation and chemotherapy. This lasted for five months. Then he would have surgery. The surgery was ultimately successful. The time that passed during which he had the cancer, however, was a very frightening time for my whole family. My dad lost his job, and there was a very high chance that he would die. My strongest memories of that time, though, are of the way our entire community was ready to help us without being asked. Families from school and our town would bring us dinners everyday. One day, during the spring, our entire street came over to mulch our lawn, which was fairly large, because my dad was not in any condition to do it. Everyone brought their rakes and bags of mulch, and I never felt such a sense of community as I did then. My grandparents, who live in Long Island, New York, came to take care of me and my four siblings for five months. Through this experience, I learned the value of friends and family. Therefore, when pondering the question of what it takes to fight cancer, words like "bravery," "faith," and "endurance" always come up, but above all, I believe that community is necessary to fighting cancer. When someone who is suffering is surrounded by friends and family and joy, they have hope and a desire to try against all odds that not much else would be able to give them.

kathre O. - Northeast Wisconsin Technical College - Read Essay »

My mother had breast cancer when I was in my first year of college. It stopped our lives. I had to quit college because of the worry and stress of the diagnoses. My mother had to have a lumpectomy and chemo treatments. She got sick and lost her hair. She couldn't go to work . So I helped by getting a job to help pay for our everyday living. My father was so busy with my mother treatment that I took care of my two younger siblings. They were in high school at the time. So I had to take on the roll of my mother while she was in the hospital. She was in and out of chemo for months. The day finally came when they told us she was cancer free. We were so excited. Things started getting back to normal. She got her hair back and liveliness back. She went back to work . I still stayed working and stuck around just hoping the cancer would not come back . It took a while but I went back to my old life. Tell this day my mother is cancer free. She is the strongest women I know.

Kenadi M. - Central College - Read Essay »

Cancer, the one thing you never want to to hear your doctor say to you. I have never had a big connection to cancer until recently, it takes a lot to fight cancer, and education is a huge part of fighting cancer. Cancer has always been so thing that made me sad but I've never had anyone I was close to affected by it in a big way, until a few weeks ago. It was just a few weeks after our high school graduation that one of my best friends had been diagnosed with stage four cancer, just 18 years old. It was horrible for me, I can't even imagine what it was like for him. After this moment cancer wasn't some awful thing that I had no real connection to, it was something that was seriously affecting someone I was very close to. The fight against cancer is millions of people strong and it won't stop until we find a cure. What I've learned from this tragic event is that it takes so much to stay strong when dealing with cancer. You always have to look on the bright side, you can't let yourself get into a slump, you have to believe things will get better. A strong support system of friends, family, and caring doctors and nurses is needed; nobody can face it alone. Going along with this, if a friend or family member has cancer, you need to be there them, you cannot abandon someone when they need your support the most. I think the most important thing to fighting cancer is staying and surrounding yourself with people who are doing the same. Education is a huge part in fighting cancer. In order to fight anything you have to be able to understand it first, you can't do anything unless you understand it and how it works. It is important to educate other people about it as well to decrease stigma surrounding the disease and gain more support in the fight. An obvious reason that education and research is important is the doctors and nurses, they have to be constantly expanding their knowledge of cancer in order to fight it. Cancer is one of the worst diseases to plague the human race today, it is important to stay strong and educate yourself on the topic so you can help in the fight.

Kordell S. - Kordell Seidler - Read Essay »

Cancer has been a world wide disease that has been affecting many loved ones in the past few years. I have been faced with this because of my mom. She was diagnosed with leukemia. This was the hardest for my family to get over because we were thinking of so many possible things that would happen to her and we were ready for the truth to come. I remember one night it was my brother and I together and I look over at him and tell ask him "is everything going to be okay with mom?". He looks back over to me and says this "Of course it is, she's a fighter and cancer picked the wrong person to deal with". From that day on my life has been changed dramatically. Everybody in the neighborhood started to make a bond around my mom. They made t-shirts and wristbands, everybody in the community was together on making my mom overcome this obstacle in her life. With her doing all these tests and procedures I can see it in my moms eyes that she was getting tired and couldn't do it anymore. But I was wrong, my mom is a warrior. Every day she was faced with an obstacle and I was there to see it first hand. As the days went on she became more and more stronger in all the blood work she does in overcoming this terrible disease. Then one day came which was the doctor calling her. I remember this day specifically because I was outside with all my friends playing basketball. My mom answers the phone and its the doctor on. I see her on the phone crying and so I run in and ask is "everything okay?". She looks at me and says "its finally over.... I'm cancer free". Those were the best six words i have heard in my entire life. I ran up to her gave her a big hug and told her that I knew she would beat it. My mom is a cancer surviver and she will always be my hero.

Krist G. - Michigan State University - Read Essay »

Nobody likes to hear "You Have Cancer." My dad, at the age of 21, was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which affects the lymph nodes in your body. Him and my mom had been married for just over a year when he was diagnosed. She had plans to become a flight attendant but she let her dream go to be my dad's primary care giver. The doctors told him and my mom they wouldn't be able to have children. The frequent trips to the office to receive chemotherapy was what discouraged him the most about having cancer. Being diagnosed at such a young age put a toll on his career of becoming a father and a farmer, like his dad and grandfather. He couldn't be as active on the farm as he would've liked because of his chemo, that he was receiving often. Five years later, I was born. This was a special time in their lives because the doctors told him and my mom that they wouldn't be able to have any children. Well, they were wrong because I was born healthy and had a great set of lungs. At this time, he was Cancer free. A few more years passed and my sister was born in 2001. Shortly after she was born, my dad was diagnosed with Cancer once again. He was Cancer free for 10 years but it came back. He started to get discouraged and question God as to why this was happening to him. He had a wife, 2 little girls and a huge future ahead of him. He went through more chemotherapy to try to stop the spread of Cancer again. At this point in my life, I was old enough to understand that he was very sick and that left me brokenhearted. We couldn't do fun things together because he had to be careful. I feel for all the kids in this world who don't have a parent or sibling due to cancer because I could've lost my dad the same way. During his times fighting Cancer, my sister, mom and I all took part in Relay for Life, which is a life changing experience, especially if you are walking with your loved one that is fighting for their life. Now, my parents have 4 daughters and we are the biggest blessings in their lives because of the news they received when he was first diagnosed. Just last winter, my dad heard the words, "You Have Cancer," for the third time. It was a mild case of Colon Cancer but it required a very extensive surgery to remove the polyps on the wall of his colon. My dad wasn't deserving of any of this but we let God handle it and he helped each and every one of my family members through this journey. Our faith and our connection as a family grew stronger because of these times my dad was diagnosed. The most important lesson that I learned through this whole experience is to just have courage and never lose hope. We serve an awesome God and he is always in control of everything. Though my family shed a lot of tears during these past 20 years, we never took anything for granted. We were so supportive of my dad and his journey with Cancer and it made all of us stronger in the end. It has been a year and my dad is Cancer free again and we are so thankful that he is still a part of our lives! He never stopped fighting and that has been such an inspiration to me. I will always be thankful that God chose him to be my dad.

Lachelle A. - Kaplan University - Read Essay »

What it takes to fight cancer would be a strong, spiritual, supportive individual fighting to see another day. Cancer is not a mysterious disease that just happens to anyone. I have family members that past away from cancer, my grandmother Helen whom past away from pancreatic cancer, grandfather Frank died of lung cancer, two uncles Frankie and Chrissy who died of lung cancer, aunt Shirley past last year of colon cancer, and my aunt Annette who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago; thankful she is still living and healthy with no remission. It has been very hard to deal with the loss of my loves one, each were a strong bond to everyone within the family. Since their passing I make sure my parents get their physical exams like they should. My parents are in their early 60's, I want them to remain on this earth if GOD will allow. I want my parents to remain healthy, understand cancer, and remain active. I've learn to be proactive about my health, my family background is known for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthmatic, and cancer. I kept myself along with my family aware of the importance of our health. My degree plan and background is medical motivated. I always wanted to work within the medical field to help others. My education is very important to me because I would always make excuses on why I am unable to finish. I believe that this is my time to prove to myself that I can complete what I have started and continue with confidence. I just recently got married to my wonderful husband and best friend last month on Mother's Day. It was a wonderful and heartfelt day for the both of us. I continue to think of my love ones that past and wished that they could part take in my happiness. It was a hard day for me, but I know that each of them are smiling down on me and happy that I fulfill one of my biggest dream marrying the love of my life. My husband has been my backbone throughout the return of my schooling. He has supported me and motivated me that he two decided to return to school to continue his education. I am halfway done with my degree in Health Administration Management, I have 6 more classes to complete to reach my goal and fulfill my destiny. I pray that this scholarship will help me pay for the school and motivate me to look towards my masters. I would like to pursue my Master's Degree, but concern if I would be financially able to do so. Please know that I am a motivate, encourage, humble, blessed woman to have such supportive family members to ensure me to continue my degree and look further to my Master's. I pray that I would be considered for this scholarship to complete my dream and goal that I promise to family, to my past love ones, and to myself. Thank you for your time. Have a blessed day and evening.

Maddalena R. - Sarah Lawrence College - Read Essay »

I grew up on sunny thirty sixth street nearing the corner of Lexington Avenue in New York City. I lived in a beautiful little townhouse with my parents, sister, and black lab Max. I loved my life growing up. I went to school nearby and would scooter there in the mornings. I had the coolest pink Razor scooter. My best friend, Tara, lived on the same street so we always spent time together. I had a wonderful nanny, Sona, who was from Nepal and cooked amazing food for my sister and I. When I got old enough, Sona tried to teach me how to make, Nepali dumplings, she called them mumu, but I never quite got the swing of it. Sona taught us right from wrong and how to have empathy and respect for others. My life growing up was easy and painless, I always felt supported in this community of mine. Ever since I can remember, my dad was my best friend. We walked the streets of the city together hand in hand, me just a little girl, and him a tall man, six foot five. My dad did everything for me and helped me learn as much from the world as possible. He gave me opportunities to try new things, and helped me find my passions. My dad took me to skate every morning before school. We had a routine that I'll never forget. Whenever I would look to the stands of the rink, he was there. At skating competitions, he was always cheering at the top of his lungs. I looked up to my dad. I would miss him when he was gone and would always tell him about my day. My dad had great ideas. He was my mentor and tutor. My dad was the person I could rely on. My dad was my hero. But then life changed. Life turned in a different direction. My dad got sick with stage four throat cancer. My dad was never a smoker or drinker, so I think he felt really helpless. I remember him saying to my mom in the dining room, "I always knew I would be taken out early." My dad quickly became this person I did not recognize. He even played with the idea of not getting treated. My dad wasn't being the strong leader that he had always been for me. These new behaviors and points of views of my dad devastated me. I even started ignoring him sometimes, something I had never done before. Once my dad was getting his treatment in the hospital, I remember going to dinner with his best friend and my mom. They ordered my dad food to bring to him afterwards. Apparently he never ate anything because he was too sick. The radiation and chemo made him lose his appetite and as a result lose over sixty pounds. I wasn't allowed to go with them. Looking back I think it's because my dad didn't want me to see him like that. That distance though created sadness within me that I hadn't felt before. I felt like I was losing the old dad that I knew, and that he was pushing me away. Summer came, and my parents sent me and my sister to Italy with an au pair. My dad's treatment was ending with a surgery, and I guess he didn't want my sister or I to be there for that either. That month away for me was a very hard time. After we returned home, my dad was different to me. He was thinner, sadder, and acted like a victim - someone he hadn't been before. Within the next year, not only did he and I grow somewhat apart, but so did he and my mother. My dad had changed into someone not as loving or as kind, but someone angry. He started sleeping in my sister's room, while my sister would sleep with my mom. He would walk the dog on long walks, way more than just around the block. Now I know that he was visiting a woman named Erica, the woman he now lives with. By the end of the year my dad had put our home on the market and had plans of selling it. He wanted a divorce from my mother and to start a new life. We no longer have my dog, or Sona, or the routines I once knew and relied on so heavily. I don't know what made my dad run away and want to start a new life -- but I do know that the best friend I once had in him is no longer there. My father made decisions to move on and change his life, and my little life that I knew so well was suddenly a fading memory. Throughout the timeline of my dad's cancer, I learned perseverance and faith, not religious, but believing in a greater good, that somehow everything will be okay and work out. I have learned many things about myself, but also about what happens to a person when they fear for their life. My dad's cancer ultimately took the constant support that I felt from him away from me. Cancer changed my dad for the worse. His cancer scared him and made him feel powerless; which in turn made him battle those feelings. Cancer isn't something anyone should have to face. More people should be educated about cancer, how to prevent it, catch it, how to cope with it, and fight it. Education is vital in the fight against cancer. Educating people on public health issues such as cancer will inspire the doctors that will search for cures in the future. My father is a changed man now, but one who I have learned to accept and love for who he is. I'm grateful everyday that cancer didn't take my dad away from me, but I do understand that it did take many tiny pieces of who he was before.

Marijean V. - DePaul University - Read Essay »

The word "Cancer" has been the scariest thing that could happen to one person's life. Cancer does not choose a person's status, way of living and state of health. It will strike in the most unexpected way and in the most unexpected time. No matter how much information a person can get from books and advertisements, no person will be able to be prepared once they experience the Big "C". I have worked in pharmaceutical industry for almost 8 years that creates target biological drugs for cancer patients. I was given an opportunity to study and understand clinical journal from different phases of clinical trials. I have attended different Medical Societies convention and even organize a symposium to top Oncologist. I was given a chance to meet the lead investigator of Xeloda, the first oral chemotherapy drug and learned a lot from his lecture. All of these experiences had led me to understand how a drug can prolong someone's life but will not guarantee a cancer free life. My experience handling different oncology ethical drugs had given me an opportunity to look both sides of Cancer experience. The point of view from a medical doctor versus the point of view of a patient that is just trying to survive to see her daughter's graduation. I have seen the best and the worst. Medical doctors will define a patient as cancer free if there is no recurrence within 5 years. Ironic as it is, cancer free does not mean you are not immune by not getting it again. For a patient, cancer free means a whole new life for them. Oncology drugs had really evolved through different research funded by big companies. Clinical trials from phase I to phase III can really provide a very promising result. Throughout the years, different medical drugs are introduced to help a patient be cured with cancer. Chemotherapy is now being partnered with target biological drugs such as Herceptin for HER2 breast cancer patient. "Targeted" drug, which means it attached to cancer cells and does not destroy a person's healthy cells unlike chemotherapy alone. Family and love ones of cancer patients also play a vital role in their treatment. One of the projects I did was to interview a cancer patient.We asked her to share her experience and provide us feedback about her current medical situation and treatment. I can still clearly remember how she shared the support she had from her husband. They were living in a very remote area in the Philippines and that her husband will travel 3-6 hours just to make sure she will not run out of medicine. Her face and smile was so priceless whenever she mentions the love and support she gets from her family. So what does it really takes to fight cancer ? The promising result of response rate and survival rate as presented by the New England Clinical Journal of Medicine or just the presence of your family, knowing that they will always be there for you is more than enough? Medical drugs can provide a patient a good result in order to have a quality life but medicine can only do so much at a certain limit. A patient being treated with drugs and at the same time knowing she/he is not fighting cancer alone are the two most important tools to fight cancer.

Mark T. - Johnson & Wales University - Read Essay »

Many members of my family have suffered from a wide variety of cancers throughout their life. But the one family member who stuck out to me the most in their fights, or I should say fights, is my Aunt Peggy Peterson. She had to be one of the toughest woman, and one of the toughest people I have ever met. Not once through any of her challenges did she ever give up. Ever since she was in her 20's she was diagnosed over and over again with cancer. What made it even worse was that it wasn't the same cancer, a new cancer would pop up on her body as soon as she thought she was done. It ranged from cancer in her nose, to gallbladder cancer to lung cancer. This would take a toll on anyone else for obvious reasons but it never took a toll on her. Every time the future started to seem bleak she would end up fighting back and coming back even stronger than before. Before seeing her fight cancer, along with my other aunts (her sisters, one of them being my grandmother) I truly thought getting any type of cancer would truly be a death wish. That it would be something you can never get out of. However after seeing her amazing fights against all types of cancers she has truly inspired me that you can beat any odds set against you. However, when she contracted lung cancer, she couldn't put up the fight that she did against all others. Within 3 to 4 days of her getting diagnosed she passed away. It came as a great shock to us all as we all truly thought she can beat anything because she always had the will, and I believe that's the main thing to focus on when battling cancer. To always have the will to battle cancer. If you or a loved one get diagnosed it will come as a great shock, and emotions will be flowing through both of you. But if the will to beat the cancer is there, you will beat it. No matter what the odds against you may be. If you don't believe so just take a look at my Aunt Peggy. As for my continuing education, she was one of the main driving forces for me going to college. I can't remember a day where she wasn't talking to me about college and telling me how important my education will be for my future. She was even my influence for my choice of major which is political science. Ever since her passing we have hit some rough times money wise and just as with any college student paying for an education is getting harder and harder. Not only would I like to continue my education for my own good but to keep my promise to her. And, although my major doesn't directly correlate with cancer, through my future law career I would like to help those who have been directly affected by cancer either through themselves or a loved one.

Mary B. - DePaul University School of Nursing - Read Essay »

Hopefully fighting cancer doesn't require being an elite athlete who trains for the IronMan triathlon while on chemotherapy. Hopefully it doesn't take calculating how many laps of the stem cell transplant unit equal one mile and then setting post-transplant walking goals circling the nurses' station. Hopefully one mustn't drag themselves from the couch when they're feeling their worst to do stair repeats or to lift weights or ride a stationary bike in the basement to keep their lungs clear, their heart pumping, themselves alive. But, for my dad, that is what it took to fight cancer. For him, fighting meant he was not going to be stopped. My dad refused treatment for his essential thrombocytopenia (ET) for 9 years. He had collapsed while running the Los Angeles marathon and was rushed to the emergency room at UCLA hospital. His blood work revealed a platelet count of over one million; the normal range is below 450,000. At the time of his diagnosis, little was known about the cause or appropriate treatment for ET. A totally asymptomatic 46 year-old triathlete, my father refused chemotherapy against medical advice. In 2007, he had a minor stroke and finally assented to treatment. But after a year of high-dose chemo, not only had his ET worsened but he had developed a second type of bone marrow cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). The only treatment option left was a bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant. My family found out that he needed a transplant in February 2010, one month into my nursing education. My 15-month accelerated nursing program began with a 17-hour course load. I would spend each week in lectures studying how diseases developed and progressed in the body, and learning clinical skills on the oncology unit of the university hospital with cancer patients in need of intensive care. Every Friday I would lug my laptop and textbooks onto an overnight bus for the 6-hour ride to visit my parents. There, beside my dad during his infusions, procedures, specialist visits, and the long hours just sitting together as he endured the pain and fear of his body failing, each week's lessons in illness and healthcare would crystallize for me and take on new meaning. Disease was not an abstract scientific concept to be mastered for a test. Cancer patients weren't just the immiserated people on 8 West. Disease was killing my dad. I'd soon be a family visitor in the cancer ward, not a student nurse. Between trips home, I'd scour the university health science journals for information on bone marrow transplants, essential thrombocytopenia and myelodysplastic syndrome. At his doctor's appointments, I'd grill his providers on the risks of every medication and procedure, scribbling down notes so I could do my own independent research at home. In medical journal after medical journal, I read about the abysmal survival rates for bone marrow transplants, the merciless odds my dad faced killing all the bone marrow in his body and replacing it with his brother's stem cells. The transplant happened on April 20, 2010, and took roughly 5 minutes. It was a strangely potent anticlimax. Dad looked and felt just the same afterward sick as hell, emaciated, blood-drained, wispy translucent eyebrows and hair finer than a newborn's. But we knew that microscopically new cells were finding their home deep in the hollows of his bones, ready to regenerate, cancer-free. The biggest risk for any transplant patient is rejection the body's rejection of the new transplant or the transplant's rejection of the body. When this occurs, it is called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). For bone marrow transplant patients, it can affect any system in the body indiscriminately. The first hundred days are the most important for predicting future survival. My dad's first hundred days were fantastic. His hair darkened, his skin blushed, he started eating fresh food again, he exercised, slowly at first (well, slow for him) but he worked his way to longer, stronger work-outs culminating in getting back on his bike and cycling outside. Our family's relief was immense. It seemed like the shadow had passed, and that Dad was back to his old invincible self. His graft-versus-host-disease manifested in his GI tract about 6 months post-transplant. From the inside of his mouth and esophagus, to his stomach, small and large intestines, infections and inflammation caused him unbearable pain, making eating and drinking next to impossible. He was hospitalized for over a month and placed on a morphine drip which profoundly disoriented him. He stopped speaking coherently and would lie in bed drifting in and out of conscious for days. My sister called and told me to come be with him because it might be close to the end. This time I took a plane not a bus. It took my father every ounce of strength, faith, and energy he had to fight cancer. It took his dedication to rigorous exercise and his complete trust of his care team. What did it take for me to fight my dad's cancer? I had to remake my entire life. I refer to that year as a "refining fire," something through which every bit of me passed and which burned away everything but my essential core. I broke up with my abusive partner of many years. I stopped drinking. I ended 90% of my friendships. I moved. I found myself anew. That's what it took it took everything. And it would've taken everything even if we'd lost the fight. But we won. A week after I visited my father in the hospital, what we'd thought might be his deathbed, he sat up, turned on the light, and talked with my sister for 5 hours. He began eating again. One day he slowly slipped on his running shoes and did a lap around the unit. Soon afterwards, he was released and began the painstaking process of regaining all the strength he'd lost during his 5 weeks of torturous immobilization. Today my dad has been cancer-free for over 7 years with no additional GVHD attacks though it remains a risk for the rest of his life. We celebrate April 20, 2010 as his second birthday. We don't take a single minute of his life for granted. He just got a new custom surfboard and he rides his bike outside everyday. Fighting cancer doesn't require the knowledge that the fight will end in your favor. Fighting cancer doesn't require a can-do attitude. You might even give up when the pain is so totalizing that any end feels a mercy. Fighting cancer is a bare-knuckle street fight with no rules. It is as quiet as a ragged breath from a gaunt figure on the living room couch. It blares like the wailing, screaming sobs you can't stifle any longer. It's the stolen laughter that escapes you when your sister whispers a joke in one of countless waiting rooms. It takes the patience of making the two-hour drive everyday after work to the hospital where all you'll do is sit by your semi-conscious husband until you make the two-hour drive home. But win or lose, fighting cancer takes the fiercest, most unconditional and honest, heartbreaking love imaginable. It takes a refining fire to disintegrate every insignificant, non-essential, waste-of-time person, place, and thing from your existence so that you can immediately access the massive, ferocious love you'll need to keep fighting. That love has permeated everything following that harrowing year. My father retired and moved in with his own ailing parents to care for them. I am a primary care nurse practitioner at a community health center where I care for marginalized people in a practice centered on compassion and understanding. I am blissfully married to the most incredible person. I am pursuing a doctoral degree to become a professor, following in my father's footsteps. My nursing education was an integral aspect of my ability to understand, support, and advocate for my father throughout his cancer fight. There will be no greater victory than to complete my doctoral degree next year, and stand beside my dad--Dr. Bowman and Dr. Bowman--both of us profoundly changed by his illness and survival, both of us thrilled to keep living lives of ferocious, honest, all-encompassing love.

Mary M. - Shenandoah University - Read Essay »

Over the years I have been impacted by my academic courses, many volunteer activities, and personal experiences; all of which led me to pursue a nursing career. Looking back, these experiences are what confirmed my desire to become a nurse. One personal experience occurred recently, involving my 87-year-old Grandpa who was diagnosed with cancer for a third time. It was heart breaking to watch someone I have always admired go through the physical and emotional difficulties of serious surgery, followed by six-weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. Often, I was the one to take him to his numerous appointments and treatments. The nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors treated him holistically, conveying the importance of every symptom, and treated him as if he were the most important cancer patient. Throughout this process, I was impressed by the knowledgeable, encouraging, and compassionate health professionals, but what really impressed me was the strength and determination of my Grandpa. While the healthcare team behind the treatments is important, the most important aspect in battling cancer is the patient. Throughout my Grandpa's battle I saw how these treatments were deteriorating his strength and overall health, both physically and mentally. Towards the end of his treatments, he was hospitalized and unfortunately, this experience was far less positive. Our reasonable expectations of quality care were thwarted by many mistakes and oversights in making sure my Grandpa got the nutrition and medication he needed. My family's role had to change from concerned family member to an active advocate for my Grandpa. Through this experience, I observed outstanding quality care and conversely, observed deficient care that taught me the importance of communication, attention to details, compassion and respect. To fight cancer, the patient must have the right mindset and a support system because the treatments associated with cancer are not for the faint of heart. Throughout my Grandpa's battle, I saw the determination he had to beat this awful disease. It was clear that he had the mental toughness to fully complete every treatment. Another important characteristic in the battle against cancer is a support system. Whether it is family or friends, patients or medical professionals need someone to push them and be an advocate for their health. I could tell that my Grandpa was not just fighting for himself, but also fighting for my family and it was our job to be there for him and help him through the process. Currently, my Grandpa is still recovering and dealing with the effects the treatments had on his body. He did not let this cancer defeat him and is doing everything in his power to get back to optimal health. In my case, education is especially important in the fight against cancer. I experienced it first hand and saw two ends of the spectrum in how the slightest mistake can have a huge impact on a patient's health. I did not anticipate the impact this experience would have in helping me find my passion for a nursing career. My involvement in my Grandpa's battle with cancer was a pivotal moment that helped shape me and helped me recognize personal strengths. As a result of each of this experience, combined with my academic course-work, my passion for a nursing career has been solidified. I find myself intrigued by every aspect of health care, motivated to learn, and anxious to help others in their fight against cancer.

Meme T. - San Francisco State Universitysco State University - Read Essay »

My grandmother was diagnosed with liver cancer when she turned sixty-three years old. As soon as she knew that she had liver cancer, she was struggling with depression. Cancer affected to my family members so much because of expensive chemotherapy sessions and side effects of those treatments. My parents needed to work two jobs to afford health care costs for my grandmother. Since I am the oldest daughter in my family, I did not continue my college education and worked full-time as a medical administrative assistant for more than five years. To fight cancer, the most important thing people need to have is "Hope". It was so painful to see my grandmother who did not have "hope", and had difficulties with acceptance and willingness to live. Before she was diagnosed with liver cancer, she loved gardening, and cooking. She always had good smile on her face, and had a very kind-hearted mind. However, cancer attacked not only her body and her immune system, but also it attacked on her mind. Every time she came back from chemotherapy session, she felt so tired and cried as she witnessed that her long beautiful hair was falling. As we were so busy with working two jobs, we did not give much time to support her emotionally. Whenever I think about those times, I felt remorse because I did not give her enough emotional support as she needed. In fact, cancer changed our life style and our attitudes about life. Now, I believe that there are still advantages of any illnesses, even cancer. As I have experienced the loss of family member because of cancer, I became realized that I need to spend more time with our family members or beloved ones. Life is so short and unexpected things could happen in life anytime. I have also learnt lessons that we need to give more time for ourselves and do self-care such as meditation or relaxation practices so that we would be able to relax our mind intentionally. When we encounter any health problems, it is very hard to relax our mind, if we have not practiced relaxation techniques. I totally believe that viewing health care from holistic approach is necessary to have peaceful mind, especially when we have health problem like cancer. Education is very important to prevent cancer or to fight cancer. There are many causes of liver cancer. For my grandmother, she did not have any family history or she did not smoke at all. However, she used to drink water from wells which contain arsenic when she lived in Myanmar. She was an immigrant, and she migrated to United States when she was fifty-seven years old. When she lived in Myanmar, she relied on water wells. We did not know that it contained arsenic, but later after she got liver cancer, we could able to find out the source of her liver cancer. If she knew a little bit earlier about the relationship between arsenic and liver cancer, she would probably be able to prevent from getting cancer in the first place. Therefore, education is essential for everyone to prevent any health disease in our lives. To fight cancer, I strongly believe that cancer patients should have nutrition education, self-care practices and other emotional and financial support from their family members. Without having knowledge how to eat healthy or do self-care, it will not be easy to fight cancer. According to my experience about my grandmother, fighting cancer is all about based on hope, and cancer patients need to know what is their meaning to life or what they are passion about to spend their time wisely. Depression and other mental health problems are barriers in fighting cancer. Therefore, we need to practice ahead how to control our mind or how to relax our mind, so that we would be ready to let our tension go when we encounter any problems in life. Even though I lost my grandmother, I am really passionate about finishing my college education, and to work as a health educator. This scholarship will help me achieving my education and career goals.

Michael D. - University of Phoenix - Read Essay »

My father was a veteran of the Army serving near the DMZ during Vietnam. While he survived his two years of service, he was taken from us too early at age 61 in March of 2008 from exposure during his service years of 1968-1970 to Agent Orange. My father was a pillar of strength to our family and even when he was diagnosed, nobody who knew him thought cancer could take him from us. Everyone who lives in our hometown of 18,000 was touch by my father. He lived his life with a level of integrity that is rarely seen these days and I cannot go anywhere in town even 9 years later without someone mentioning how my father touched their lives. He was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder in early 2005 and was treated for a year before he was thought to be cancer free. In 2007, he was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer though he never smoked and treatment was successful in shrinking the cancer cells. In early 2008 he went in for a check-up and the doctors found that metastasis had occurred and the cancer was found to be in his bones and in his spine. He passed away March 27, 2008 and has been dearly missed since his passing. My mother Beverly, who was married to my father Dale for forty years, was convinced she could love him well. The care that she provided during the three years he battled cancer was an amazing portrait of love and dedication. I participate in the Relay for Life each year and am amazed at how many lives cancer touches. There is rarely a friend or stranger that I meet who has not had a loved one or a friend that has fought cancer. A healthy diet, exercise, and a positive attitude helped my father to survive for three years when he was originally given only six weeks to live. Advances in medicine provide individuals with a greater chance for survival but there is much research to be done to help eradicate this disease that robs us of our loved ones too early. The love of a lifetime mate was another major factor in our blessing of my father's presence for three years after his original diagnosis. One of the last vacations I can remember taking with my father was a trip to Iowa City, IA to watch his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes play his alma mater Northern Iowa. My three bothers and I attended the game with my father and his joy at attending the game with his children is something I will never forgot. I began my educational journey back in 2005 working on my Doctorate in Management at the University of Phoenix. At the time of my father's passing I had to take a break from the program but promised him that I would finish in his honor. I am currently entering my final three courses in the program and the scholarship would help me conduct the necessary research for my dissertation project. I appreciate your consideration.

Michelle R. - Vanderbilt School of Nursing - Read Essay »

Many people’s lives are touched at some point with a cancer diagnosis, either their own, a family member, or a friend. It usually creates a time of confusion and fear of the unknown. Some also report finding a silver lining while experiencing the cancer diagnosis and treatment. The organ or system affected, the specific cell type, and the stage of the cancer determine the treatment plan and prognosis. Regardless of these variants, it is imperative for every cancer patient to follow their individualized treatment and care plans, commit to lifestyle changes, trust their providers, and utilize their resources in order to make a strong fight against the disease. Health care teams take into account each patient’s risk factors, comorbid conditions (if any), and individualized support systems available when devising treatment regimens, and therefore close adherence to care plans is extremely important. A treatment course is not as effective as it is intended to be if a patient does not follow it accordingly. Unfortunately, obstacles and periods of doubt may arise as a patient progresses through treatment, making adherence more difficult. Missed medication doses, not attending follow-up appointments, and not meeting diet requirements are common examples of such non-adherence to treatment. Quality patient education about care plans and the importance of abiding to them is necessary to prevent lapses in treatment. Following treatment plans closely is what makes them effective and successful. Commitment to lifestyle changes entails modifications to diet, exercise, and psychological mindsets and approaches. While these changes are supplemental and more supportive in the overall plan, failure to incorporate them can result in less effective treatment and/or management of cancer. For example, a patient diagnosed with lung cancer who does not make the effort to quit smoking or incorporate some sort of exercise into their life will likely have less effective medical treatment interventions because smoking counteracts efforts to treat lung cancer. Moreover, lifestyle changes are a long-term treatment for the current cancer and a prevention measure for development of other forms of cancer and illness. Trusting your health care providers is essential to the fight against cancer because only those who trust their providers will follow the treatment plans devised and make the necessary lifestyle changes recommended by health care professionals. A patient being treated for cancer can have multiple different members of their care team, varying in discipline due to the patient’s individual needs. Following-up with these providers is important for creating and maintaining this trust as well as for achieving the goals of treatment and future illness prevention. A strong support system is another key component to the battle against cancer. A cancer patient needs emotional support as they endure treatment regimens and implement lifestyle changes. They largely benefit from having someone physically present to drive them to and from appointments, and to assist them with daily tasks such as grocery shopping and cleaning their home when they are weak and tired. A strong, positive support system energizes cancer patients to put up a strong fight against their disease and encourages them to be more optimistic about their prognosis. Additionally, utilizing one’s support system and resources while undergoing treatment will help them maintain lifestyle changes and will minimize the risk of cancer progression or reemergence. A diagnosis of cancer affects every person differently and the way a person responds is individualized as well; however, patients who follow and support their dynamic treatment regimens in all ways possible are the ones that make the strongest fight against the disease. Acknowledging that fatigue is one of the most common complaints of cancer patients and the treatment course, fighting cancer is most definitely not an easily undertaken task. In light of this reality, cancer patients are faced with the reality that they are not just fighting cancer, but they are fighting for their lives. Finding the motivation to do whatever it takes to eliminate or manage the illness is essential to survival. Cancer differentiates people from one another in its type and effect, but unites people in the fight against it.

Michele O. - Oakland Community College - Read Essay »

Will power! That's what it takes to fight cancer. My uncle Ed, someone who was very close to me, someone that looked after me and took me under his wing when my dad passed in 2003, passed away in February of cancer. He was a very healthy man. He took great care of himself he ate the right foods and never did any drugs beside the occasional beer for family functions. Unfortunately, in his 20's he had testicular cancer and fought a hard fight, it was his will power to live that made him survive his first bout. He later in his 30's met my aunt Mary and they did not take long to get married and have a wonderful life together, they were the epitome of soul mates. They both took care of each other and never put themselves before the other. In 2014 Ed was told he had tongue cancer and he had immediate surgery. The doctor removed the side of his tongue and used a skin graft to reconstruct it. He also removed lymph nodes from his neck. My uncle then went through Radiation and again in 2015 was told that the cancer had spread to his jaw. He had surgery again to remove the right side of his jaw and have a plate replace it, but this time the doctor only agreed to the surgery because my uncle was in so much pain. The cancer was a very aggressive cancer and the doctor said he had no way of stopping it. My uncle Ed for almost 3 years suffered the pain of cancer and treatments and surgeries, and he did it because of his will power to live for my aunt.

Myles J. - North Carolina A&T State University - Read Essay »

After seeing what my mom has gone through I can tell you today that I still don't know. There's no definite answer on "how to fight cancer". My stepmom has known me for 16 out my 19 years of living so it's safe to say she has known me longer than I've known myself. I started living with her when I was 9 and even after the 6 years of having had some type of image of her she was just a stepmom kind of figure to me. Some one who stepped in when my mom was gone because my parents had split, a place filler for the longest time. But around the age of 18 it all changed. I woke up one morning to find her laying on the ground crying in pain grabbing her tummy. I was scared half to death of the sight of seeing this woman who's taken care of me and been there for me most my life on the ground in severe pain for the first time. I had never seen a sight like this before and even the times in the past when she would be in some type of pain it was never really visible it was more of guess work and assuming her joint was hurt or she bruised a muscle just because of how strong she was. Well this time it clearly was too much for her to bare so I run around the around looking for anything she asks whether it be pain medication, milk, tea, honey, literally anything to get her off the floor. I tell her she needs to get up, saying it in a more confident voice than I could feel in the moment. She says she's in too much pain to move so I pick her up off the ground and carry her to her bed. I rush out of the room after the calmly laying her down and get on the phone with the first gynecologist I see on google because she says her "down there hurts". She goes in for an appointment on Monday and comes back with hollowing news, she says its ovarian cancer. The entire family is shook and she's in far less but nonetheless pain. No one knows what to do but pray and I'm still shook from first hearing the news. The whole process of surgery, medicine, relapse, more surgery, was all too stressful on her. For the first time in my life I'm scared for her and don't want to lose her because I finally realize that this is my mom regardless if she birthed me. So I go to church and pray harder for her than ever and almost miraculously she gets a call a week later saying everything is stable and everything should be returning back to normal. So I believe love, faith in whomever you believe in, and overall strength are what it takes to truly "fight cancer".

Natalie H. - University of San Diego - Read Essay »

Hope. Faith. Believe. Courage. Anything is possible. While I was growing up, both my grandpa and grandma were diagnosed with cancer. My grandpa had single-celled stage four lung cancer in 2009, while my grandma was affected by Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer in 2002. Both of my grandparents had an interesting way of fighting their cancer. Although their bodies couldn't win in the fight against cancer itself, I can truly say they didn't let cancer win mentally. Neither of them gave up. Now, I understand that you may be wondering why I placed those four words and phrase at the beginning of this essay. I placed them there because those are the words that both my grandparents echoed during their fight. Each word is a leap closer to defeating the horrendous disease that takes millions of lives each year. Throughout this essay, I hope to convince readers that having each of these words during their fight will surely deteriorate the enemy, cancer. Vivian Greene once said, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass… It's about learning to dance in the rain." When we observe cancer, either within ourselves or within the lives of loved ones, it's easy to fall into an emotional trap with depression, never-ending feelings of doom and anger at the world. However, as the quote above describes, if one forgets to live during the journey, regardless of how hard it is, one may miss the opportunity to "dance" or enjoy the possible last moments you have on this earth. I firmly that's what gave both of my grandparents the strength to fight through their cancer. Of course, there were times when they were bedridden with their illnesses, but when they felt capable, they always got up and looked cancer straight in the eyes. Now, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer six years before my grandfather was. It was absolutely heartbreaking for the entire family. Because of her age, she struggled with whether or not to proceed with chemotherapy and radiation. I specifically remember the first time I saw her after she was diagnosed. The minute our eyes met I couldn't stop the tears from running down my face. It only took a few minutes for me to start painfully crying in front of her. She picked my face up though, pressed my face tightly between the palms of her hands and said to me, "Cancer will never kill me because a part of me will always remain safe inside of you. As long as you have hope, faith, believe, and courage. Anything is possible. Don't be scared. There are worse things in the world." My grandfather was sitting next to her at the time and he definitely noted her words. So, for seven months, I watched my grandmother ride her struggles right until the end. Cancer didn't instill fear in her, but rather gave her the courage to stand up to death lingering around the corner. Cancer may have taken her physically, but her strong presence has forever remained inside of me. Similar to my grandmother, my grandfather fought long and he fought hard. At the beginning of his fight, there was certainly a sense of insecurity, especially since cancer was the monster that took my grandmother away. At the time of his diagnosis, he was living with my family. Again, our family faced a dark cloud of devastation and with his stage four lung cancer, death seemed to be near and looming through the close horizon. My grandmother may had been gone for quite some time, but her first words to resonated in my head. "Cancer will never kill me because a part of me will always remain safe inside of you. As long as you have hope, faith, believe, and courage. Anything is possible. Don't be scared. There are worse things in the world." I shared them with my grandpa. He couldn't control himself from sobbing because he remembered those words as well. At that point in time, he began to tell himself every morning, especially on his tougher days, "Hope. Faith. Believe. Courage. Anything is possible." As time passed, his body may have gotten weaker, but mentally, he was stronger than ever before. He fought all the way through until his last breath. Hope. Faith. Believe. Courage. Anything is possible. Hope. Faith. Believe. Courage. Anything is possible. Hope. Faith. Believe. Courage. Anything is possible. This is the way to battle what it sometimes considered an inevitable defeat. There is a misconception that fighting cancer ultimately means that you're cured. That is true in some part, but we also have to conclude the individuals, like my grandparents, who didn't let fear or distress take over them mentally. You can strong physically and mentally when fighting against cancer. Regardless if you're rich, poor, uncurable, curable, old or young, there is always a chance to make your presence known and fight cancer head on.

Pamela G. - Southern New Hampshire University - Read Essay »

It takes all your strength, blood, sweat and tears to get through each day when you're watching a close, beloved family member slowly deteriorate from the cancer treatments. My beloved father Walter lost his battle with lung and brain cancer five years ago, if he had lived he would have been eighty years old this year in 2017.I can barely type this scholarship essay as the tears are dripping down my cheeks as I type, while I think back on my dad's chemo therapy treatments and how his health went down fast after each treatment. I remember trying to muster up all my strength to care for my three kids and husband, go to work during the day every day and right after work each day of my dad's chemo therapy ,me and my husband tom would wait patiently at my parents' home to help mom to get dad from the car into the house because my dad's cancer treatments were so draining on my dad's strength he didn't have the strength to even get out of the car. Me and my husband tom mustered up all our physical strength and dragged my weak dad up the front steps into the house, each of us would stand on each side of my dad and hold him up under his arms, and helped mom any way we could. I saw in my dad's light blue eyes that his body was getting weaker each and every day, but through it all his positive attitude never faded. He had a bright light inside him and when he entered a room everybody would react to his smile and positive outlook in life. All through his cancer chemo therapy he never complained. We started bringing dinner each night because we could see the toll that the cancer treatments were affecting my elderly mom Lois, her strength and energy was focused on my dad and making him as comfortable as she could. I can absolutely understand and sympathize with other people who have had to go through cancer treatments of their loved ones while at the same time juggle their own lives, families and their jobs. The incredible strength it takes and the powerful human spirit we have to care for our loved ones in their time of need. Mom is still with us and I watch over her every day. My dad's cancer was an unbelievably hard time in my life, my family's life and my mom's life, but on the brighter side it didn't break my family, it only made my family even stronger and much more appreciative of each other. When I was going through rough times in my life, it made me appreciate each breath I take each day with my health. Each day is a gift and I personally intend to make every day worth it. I would greatly appreciate this scholarship because it would help me achieve my dream of earning a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Southern New Hampshire.

Philipp G. - Portland Community College - Read Essay »

Thousands of people every year find out they have cancer. Most will have to go through some type of chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Both are extremely painful. Their appearance will change dramatically and their physical abilities will become limited. Just talking can and will become a chore. Although many physicians and specialist try to comfort and prepare each patient it is those patients with children who find the whole experience tormenting. They fear for their kids future and how they will take the news. They are unsure of when and how to tell their children, especially when they are younger children. It is most difficult to explain to this age group because of their absence of understanding what it is they are being told. They have a limited vocabulary and lack the ability to grasp the seriousness of the situation. I did not understand that my grandpa may be facing death. To me he was invincible. No one or thing could harm him. So it was up to my grandpa to explain everything in a way to where I could understand. Helping a 7 year old understand their experience with cancer needs sensitivity and a good sense of timing. Children may go through the stages they are going through, disbelief, anger, reorganization, hope and acceptance. They may have special needs because of their ages. During that time, their needs may change. Children have the right to know about anything that affects the family, as cancer does. Children know something is wrong. If they are not told anything in a way to protect them, they may have fears which are worse than the real situation. They may find out the truth from someone else, which is one of the worst things that can happen. Children need to have a shoulder to cry on in this instance. Having the shoulder of the one that understands the feeling and is the one going through it is most helpful. I found out my grandpa had lung cancer when I was 7 years old from him. At first I had no idea what it was. When he explained to me that he was going to die my world completely changed. I loved my grandpa and to find out he was dying when I was only 7 was one of the worst experiences I have ever had. Being educated in the subject of cancer is important. If I had known at the time their actually was a way to be cured I would have asked questions. Who knows, would my grandpa be alive today? My grandma told me he refused treatment because he wanted to die. He had a lot of other problems as well. Am I selfish for wanting that? Am I selfish for wanting to have my grandpa today when he could be in pain everyday? Maybe I am. But I still miss my grandpa everyday and would give anything to see him again.

Rachel J. - American Career College - Read Essay »

In my life I have faced cancer twice and it won both times. I wish I could tell you that all it takes is love, millions of prayers and lots of positive thoughts. But I would be lying to you if I told you that because that is not the truth. What it really takes to fight cancer is time. What I have learned from my first experience with cancer is to take the time you have with your loved one and enjoy it. When I was fourteen years old my older brother was diagnosis with leukemia. He was seventeen years old at the time of his diagnosis and my best friend. I was fourteen years old and I honestly knew nothing about cancer. I understood that it was very bad and that almost everyone died from it. When my brother was admitted to the hospital I honestly thought that he would just be given medicine and come home. We as humans are so naive with our health, we have this thinking that "it can't happen to me" but in reality it can happen to anyone and it will. I remember visiting my brother a few times just sitting there and watching him. He was hooked up to so many machines and only tried to sleep. When he was awake I need to be quiet because the sound hurt his ears. I could not touch him because it was just too painful for him. I just sat there watching him sleep, wishing that I would just take him home and we would be normal again. I believed in magic when I was fourteen and I also believed in fairy tales as well. Every time I went to visit my brother I would gently lay my hand upon his arm and try to absorb his cancer. I thought that I would be able to fight it because as fourteen years old apparently I had super powers. Every time I visited my brother I would touch his arm and try to absorb his cancer, every time I failed. On my brother's last day I was able to watch him take his last breath and drift off to heaven. I remember standing there watching everyone kiss him goodbye and tell him they love him. When it was my turn I held his hand, said I was sorry and I loved him so much. My dad bent down, whispered in my brother's ear that he could go home and kissed his forehead. After that my brother let out his last breath and was gone. Cory was admitted to the hospital on October 7, 2002 and died November 27th 2002. He was amazing and I miss him so much every single day. The biggest lesson I learned from losing my brother was to not take the one's you love for granted. Cherish every moment and always always leave them with a hug and an I love you. My second battle with cancer was recently with my grandmother. She was diagnosed with colon cancer. She was older, wiser as she said and had lived her life. She did not want to fight anymore and she ended her battler November 26th , 2016. My grandmother was also my best friend. In her last days she would call for me to care for her in many ways and I enjoyed every minute with her. One time she was admitted to the hospital and I would visit every day, this particular day she was more blue than usual. I love to make people laugh so I decided to push her around in her wheel chair in the halls past the nurses desks and steal all their Halloween candy. I tell you she was my partner in crime and I miss her so much. Since she has passed I have experience anxiety, panic attacks, and found myself wanting to give up. Currently, I am going to school to become a surgical technician since my grandmother's passing it has been very hard. But my grandmother would always tell me, "depression is a luxury I cannot afford". So in my moments of loss, weakness and despair I tell myself exactly that. I use it to keep going and fight to be strong because I still have a life to live. I still have my health, my children, my education and that is what made my grandma the most proud of me. Time is what it takes to fight cancer. What I mean by this is that you need to learn to freeze your time with them. Sit there with them, memorize every outline upon their sweet face, listen to the bittersweet melody of their voice. In every moment you learn to slow time down and just enjoy all the tears, pain, aches, sadness. Enjoy all the emotions because in those moments is when you and your loved one are the most alive. You both are full of life, full of feelings, waking up to how much you truly love this person and need them in your life. I remember how my brothers smile would just light up the room especially with his sweet dimples. I remember every wrinkle upon my grandmother's face especially when she would pursed her lips to kiss me. How when she smiled the corners of her eyes would crease and her eyes sparkled. If you saw my grandma's eyes sparkle you knew in that moment she felt sincere joy. Time is what it takes to fight cancer. Slow time down, enjoy your moments and know there is no reason to rush. You take this advice you apply it to your everyday life and slow down the time. You will see that you are much happier, more connected with your family and just love life for what it has to offer.

Rachel S. - Temple College - Read Essay »

Watching my mother, I have learned that it takes exeptional strength and willpower to attempt to fight cancer. It also takes a never give up spirit. My mom began having back problems and pain, and it was discovered that she had a fractured vertebrae. She had surgery to correct it, and the surgeon made a mistake, so she had to have another surgery to fix the first surgery and help stabilize her spinal chord. She was in the hospital over a week with another week in rehab learning how to walk with a metal rod through her back. She was home for a few months, but her pain and mobility continued to deteriorate. She returned to the hospital, where the doctors finally discovered she had stage 4 clear cell carcinoma. They told her that she had one week to live. Most people would become angry, or withdraw, or feel sorry for themselves, but my mom's only concern was that her family was taken care of after she was gone. She never had a word of complaint for anybody. After the doctors discovered the cancer, a test showed that it had eaten away most of her vertebrae that had been near the metal rod. I will never understand how she was able to walk herself in to the hospital while the cancer was destroying her body, but she did. Throughout all of the hard and scary nights, all of the terrifying surgeries and procedures, and all of the sleepness nights due to pain, my mother stayed strong and never gave up. She was able to greet her care team with a smile on her face every morning, no matter how rough that night had been. Part of the reason she was able to keep fighting through the bad times were her nurses. She had a wonderful group of people whose names and faces I still remember a year later because of the wonderful job they did taking care of her and myself during that difficult time. Sam could tell the best jokes, and Chris would come to work with a huge smile on his face even while he was dealing with a terrible migraine and working six twelve hour shifts in a row. However, I think that Iris was her favorite. My mom would have terrible hour long muscle spasms, and Iris would just sit beside her and talk quietly to her until she was able to relax. These wonderful caretakers are the reason I am now enrolled in nursing school, and I hope that one day I can help families through difficult times the way they helped us. I wish I could talk more about her "fight against cancer". I wish we had known about it soon enough to give us a fighting chance against it, but the truth is by the time the doctors figured it out, it was too late for any type of treatment plan. I will say that in her final week, my mother showed more courage and strength of character than most people show throughout their entire lives, and I wish that I could tell her that.

Rachelle G. - Florida International University - Read Essay »

What It Takes to Fight Cancer? At the age of 7, it was so shocking to find out that my sister and I did not have the same father. I watched her deal with the pain of betrayal, abandonment and later redemption. When we met her biological father Gustave, it was so easy for me to bond with him but she was very standoffish. He would come by baring all types of goodies, and she never treated him kindly. It was almost as though she was repulsed by him. I asked her, "why are you so rude to Gus, he is your father?" She replied, "that man is not my father, he is just a sperm donor." What was amazing to me is that no matter how many times my sister rejected him, Gustave never gave up on trying to build a relationship with her. For years their relationship was basically a series of him attempting to rectify their relationship and her being completely frigid. Until the first Sunday of 2006 after church, my mother sat her and I down and said "Miyou, your father prostate cancer and he needs our support." Her eyes were enflamed, she seemed angry but responded calmly, "what difference does that make and walked out." My mom and I would talk to Gus often and check up on him. I would encourage my sister to go spend time with him. Her answer was "no thanks" she sincerely thought, it's just prostate cancer, Lance Armstrong survive and no need to be dramatic. Her nonchalant attitude started causing a rift in our relationship. I know my sister was better than that. She was very compassionate with strangers and would be ready to give the shirt off her back to anyone in need. It made no sense to me that her own blood is going through something as horrific as cancer and she was being so uncaring. Back in 2007, Gus came by the house and he had a bad cough and the side of his neck was swollen, my mom immediately drove him to the Jackson Memorial Emergency Room. I called my sister with the news, she was crying intensely. I was chock! As cold as she been to see her bewail for him, was overwhelming. She immediately came to the hospital and literally became his greatest ally that day. When she walked into the room, Gus face just lit up. All you can see in his eyes is the love for this stubborn young lady who had ignored him in his time of need. He said, "Miyou, my baby thanks for coming, I love you." She did not say much, she held his hand and just sat there. She visited him every day and would be the one to make all the decisions for his care. The treatments were very aggressive and took a toll on him physically. Eventually, Gus became non-verbal and I saw my sister clean her father up and just loved him in her own way. She did not say much but was just there. I noticed that she was looking unusually stressed and I asked her what was wrong? It was complete silence and out of nowhere she burst into tears and said "This is too much for me Raye. I don't know what I'm doing. I know with all my heart that Gus wants to live and this has taken so much out of him and I just don't know how much more I could push." I held my sister and I said, "sis, you are doing the best that you can by being there." We prayed together and she was comforted. I wish that one of these treatments worked. I prayed that the Lord miraculously healed him. I hoped that my sister, Gus and I went to Paris to see his mother. The story ended too quickly, unfairly as too many cases of cancer do. Gus went home to the Lord on April 28, 2009 on his way to Catholic Charity Hospice Center. At the end, my sister was by her father's side. She organized his funeral and we know we will see him again. What does it take to fight cancer? Cancer is not a god. Cancer wants to be the center of attention. It wants to come in and become the center of your life and everyone else's. Don't ever let cancer become your identity. Gus had cancer but the cancer did not become who he was. He was a man who was filled with life even in his dying bed. He loved hard and relentlessly. Cancer could not stand a chance to such a soul. The body of Gus is gone but his love and spirit will live forever. Kick cancer's [EXPLETIVE] by loving like Gus. Keep your identity!

Rebecca W. - Nightingale - Read Essay »

You haven't been feeling yourself and you have no energy. You finally give in and go to the doctor. They assess you and perform test after test, not finding an answer. They finally decide to screen you for cancer. Your stomach drops, your mouth becomes dry, and you can't move. You are sent to your screening and sent home. You sit and wait researching on the internet cancer, reading blogs, looking for hope. You find a community of cancer survivors, you reach out and you make immediate friends. Your doctor finally calls and asks you to come into his office. You already know. You walk in with heavy feet and sit down in a chair. The doctor begins telling you what they found. You hear that you have cancer, but the rest of his words sound like you are under 100 feet of water. Cancer, you have cancer. He hugs you and gives you your options. You can fight this, there is hope! Throughout the days, weeks, and months of treatment you begin to wonder if fighting was the best option. There are days you can't get out of bed. Days when you can't even make it to the bathroom on time. You can't remember the last time you ate solid food and kept it down. Then one day, you wake up, after a restful night of sleep. You don't hurt everywhere, you feel like you have energy. You crawl out of bed and brush your teeth without becoming exhausted. You get dressed and comb your hair. You order a juicy burger you have been dreaming about since treatment started and you are able to eat half of it and keep it down! A few days later you go into your doctor's office for your weekly appointment. You have memorized how many tiles are in the ceiling by now. There is a knock on the door and your doctor comes in smiling. "You beat cancer! You are in remission." he tells you and you weep. So, how did you do it? How did you beat cancer? You remembered to breathe. When you weren't feeling well, you took a breath and made an appointment to see your doctor. When they poked you with needles to collect your blood, you took a deep breath and closed your eyes. When they took x-rays of your insides you took a breath to calm your nerves and had to hold it. When your doctor told you that you had cancer, you held your breath. When he told you that you had options and you could fight this. You took a breath of determination. When you were so sick from treatments that you couldn't move, you kept breathing. When you finally had the energy to get out of bed you took a thankful breath. When your doctor told you that you had beaten cancer you were breathing. I believe you can achieve anything with remembering to breath and determination. We, as humans are strong, we are incredible. I am returning to school after graduating in high school in 2003 to earn my nursing degree. This step took a huge breath for me to complete my application. My love for health care began on April 23, 1993 when I was in a car accident that left my twelve year old sister paralyzed from the waist down. The paramedics and firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extract us from the vehicle. My nurse at the hospital was the kindest woman I had ever encountered in my eight years of life. Her smile was wide and welcoming, her hands were freezing, and she wore her long brown hair in a braid tied at the bottom with a piece of pink ribbon with hearts on it. I do not remember her name, but I will always remember the comfort she provided and her embrace. She was the first one to tell me if I was breathing I was okay. I became a CNA in high school and started my career in a nursing home where I learned patience and humility many of them had beaten cancer at one point in their lives or were currently fighting. The life stories and wisdom they shared was enough to keep me coming back. I lived for their smiles. 16 years later, I am still a CNA, but now I work labor and deliver as an OB tech. I see the miracle of life, the excitement of first time parents, the terror of first diaper changed, and the excruciating heartbreak when a baby doesn't take their first breath. Through it all I remind those parents to breathe, I remind myself to breathe. If I am breathing, I will be okay. I am also a volunteer firefighter and EMT in my city. I respond to emergent 911 calls, in the wee hours of the day or night, in the pouring rain, snow, sleet. I will be there to help my neighbors and strangers I've never met. I will be there with the skills and knowledge I have gained thus far to try and save them, to save their home from ruin and provide comfort when there is nothing more I can do. To remind them to breathe.

Richelle P. - Vanderbilt University School of Nursing - Read Essay »

I will never forget the day I received the devastating phone call and news from my mother. "Your sister has brain cancer," she said. Medulloblastoma to be exact. It was the size of an orange or maybe a lemon. I don't remember exactly which fruit, I just knew that sounded large. And intense. I asked my mother "What happened? I mean, how did we not know this sooner?" The story goes, from both our mother and my sister is that my sister went to a sleepover where she ate sushi for the first time the night prior. When she awoke the next morning, she had unusual symptoms of facial droop, abnormal gait (i.e. she started walking into the sides of door frames) and she had an intense headache. Oh so intense. My mother is a nurse. A hospice/palliative care nurse. She didn't recognize the symptoms of a tumor at first but did not dismiss the initial assumptions from the emergency room staff that this was just "the flu" or flu-like symptoms. As my sister explained it, she was 14 at the time, the night prior was her first time eating sushi and surely her symptoms manifested from her meal the night before. My mother was having nothing of it. In fact she went from encouraging to demanding that an MRI be performed. And that was how it was discovered. Medullosblastoma. A cancer that typically strikes males in and around the age of three to four. She was an anomaly of sorts. What did it take to fight this cancer? This wasn't going to be her first cancer either. Well, there was talk. A lot of talk. At 14 she was not old enough to be considered adult for the purposes of radiation but the nature of just how aggressive her cancer was warranted the conversation that post surgery and chemotherapy my parents might want to consider adult doses. The understanding was that the high doses of radiation could very well affect her executive functioning, language and math centers. The surgery happened 3 days post discovery. The tumor was discovered on a Friday and despite the urgency, the right type of staff would not be available until the start of the new week. Her surgery went off without issues. Except for the tumor dripping as it was removed. Cancer cells had now spread throughout the rest of her body. This meant for sure chemotherapy and radiation. Undoubtedly. While pathology came back with good margins meaning they had got the tumor out, the fact that the tumor leaked meant the additional therapies. I flew home after her surgery was complete. I attended to chemotherapy appointments at the Children's Hospital. I also attended all of her radiation therapy appointments. My mother wanted me to be with my sister as I had previously worked in a cancer hospital so I understood clinical symptoms related to radiation therapy. Our parents had ultimately decided upon high dose radiation. The symptoms of the therapy would manifest throughout her years and just as predicted. She was symptomatic of mainly only of a sunburn at first, but when combined with chemotherapy, the fight to provide proper nutrition outside of a feeding tube was on. Ultimately she did have a feeding tube at some point. But really what affected her the most is how the treatment stunted her growth. Intellectually. Developmentally. And to include secondary cancer. While my sister went into remission for her primary cancer, her colon was plagued with familial polyps. A type of cancer that runs in families. She had colonoscopy after colonoscopy every 6 months. So many prior to turning 20 that she ultimately decided to have her colon removed. If she did not, the probability with the number of pre-tumors she had could have easily resulted in metastasis just based on the sheer quantity that she had already. She was told that her colon would be removed and an ostomy bag but in place. Another assault to her self-worth and dignity. You could imagine her surprise when she awoke from that surgery only to find her small intestine connected to her rectum. No ostomy! My sister and my family had it rough. No one would have ever imagined this. You see, I was given two weeks' notice that a new family would be arriving. My sister. Two weeks because my sister was adopted at birth. She came with no medical history mentioning cancer either with her biological mother or presumptive father. I can still remember to this day when I was 8 years of age, running home from school, through the door and down to the family room where she lay in the playpen. Her brown eyes and brown hair seemed foreign at the time. Almost a shock. She didn't look like us. But no regard, deep down I knew she was my sister and I was hers. I dreamed what she would look like when we were older. No one could have predicted what would take place in our lives - her life, some fourteen years later. My sister will never have children of her own. Her colon cancer is genetically linked to her and has an exceptionally high probability of passing on to her offspring. She is married, but is depressed. She refuses to adopt children of her own citing her own poor experience with her biological mother. She still experiences a lot of physical pain for which she has a difficult time coping with. But we are truly blessed to have each other even though we are a country apart. So, to answer your question What does it take to fight cancer? Family. And a lot of love and support. Strength both found within and around and we have been very fortunate to have plenty of that between all of us. Her journey continues…. We have and will continue to prevail and do whatever it takes to make sure she is taken care of. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. Financially. While it is not within my means to give financially, I try my best to address her other needs where I can. It is why a career in welcoming new lives as a midwife and the start of new families is so important to me and why I pursue more advanced education at Vanderbilt. I hope by giving to other families as a midwife despite incurring my own educational debts that the rewards are intrinsic for me but are able to better support my sister in her continued time of need financially even though I cannot be with her physically. Thank you for taking the time to read my families story. Cancer is never easy. Childhood cancer is made worse by the very nature that children are too young to be that sick and risk losing their life to. Its can be intense and very tragic but I am fortunate that my sister is still with us today Signed, Richelle Power, BBA, BS, MPH Future Nurse Midwife (2018).

Robert H. - Marquette University - Read Essay »

Cancer is a relentless disease that tears people down to the very last of what they have. It is something that has touched my life very personally. I have seen those close to me lose the battle, win the battle, and those still fighting. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an army to beat cancer. Throughout this essay, I would like to discuss a few stories of people I know affected by cancer. The first person I would like to discuss is someone who hits very close to home. My mom has a twin sister, who also happens to be the aunt I see most often. On top of this, she is my godmother. A few years back now, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition, we found out it was due to a specific, hereditary gene. All of my other aunts had the gene, and received double mastectomies. My aunt has undergone multiple chemotherapy treatments, surgeries, and procedures to cure her. However, we all know that cancer is a disease that, when fought back against, fights back harder. She was cancer free for about four months, and now her Ca125 levels are back on the rise. The only thing that makes it worse is, because of work, I wasn't able to see her during a family reunion. She is by far one of the strongest women I know. She is going through hell and high water to simply get better again. Luckily, my extended family is extremely tight-knit. We have all stuck together to help her fight through this journey. My aunt has overcome two diagnoses now, and still isn't out of the woods yet. We believe; however, she will one day be cancer-free. Through the team of our family, the hospital staff, team of doctors, and her therapists, we are helping my aunt every step of the way. Nonetheless, she has just recently participated in a half-marathon in Disney World in January. Even when she is being relentlessly attacked by this terrible disease, she is doing things some of can't do while we are well. She has taught me that no matter how hard life knocks you down, you can't just stand back up. You have to stand back up and punch life right back. Throughout her entire journey she has not once felt sorry for herself, or blamed anyone. She took every hit and hit back twice as hard. She has taught me many things throughout my life, but the most important lessons have been while she's been on this journey to recovery. The second person I would like to mention is also a key individual in my life. Her name is Pualani, and she was a colleague of my mother. Having grown up in Hawaii, Pualani was in love with nature and living in harmony with the entire world. That entire world included those who lived in it. She was blessed with a full life of volunteering, travelling, and loving. Being such an avid supporter of loving and helping everyone she could, she also helped fund my college career. She had a scholarship fund that would be based on how we lived as people as well as our GPA. She wasn't only helping me, however. She also helped about seven other students pay for their educational future. Even if we didn't meet the GPA requirements, she would loan us money to pay for our future, since many of us can't get approved for private loans on our own. Suddenly last year, Pualani was diagnosed with liver cancer. She found out she had several tumors in her liver, and it was spreading. She travelled to and from Los Angeles for treatment, as it was of a higher quality than that in Hawaii. Once her treatment started and she began to die, she knew she could not support the scholarship fund. I don't believe this was out of choice, but rather out of necessity. She gave everything she had to help those around her until the day she took her last breath. Those of us that were a part of her scholarship fund were burdened then by the fact that possibly the purest person on Earth had been taken from us, and that we weren't sure how we were going to continue funding our college career. However, she taught me that giving unto others whatever we have is the key to living a full life. Whatever one might buy for themselves, means twice as much if it is bought for someone else. I want to be able to give back as Pualani did, once I have a stable career. Finishing my college education is a key step in that journey. Education is not only important, but vital in the fight against cancer. The medical field has made leaps and bounds in fighting against cancer. This can only be furthered by producing future scientists and doctors to continue that fight. Educating those students majoring in the sciences on what they can do and how they can work to search for a cure is absolutely vital. Not only is educating those who will be producing the cure important, so is educating those assisting the fight. That population would be the rest of those searching to complete their degree so one day we can donate a portion of what we make back to the fight against cancer. I aim to become educated so I can have a career I am passionate about, and then donate some of my salary to charities that help cure the disease that took the person who taught me what giving was all about. Cancer is something we are coming closer and closer to finding a cure for. All of us, together, can help. Whether studying oncology and finding a cure, donating to a cause, or participating in fundraisers, we all have the ability to further the fight.

Sadie T. - Montana State University - Read Essay »

On November 13th, 2015 my mom passed away due to an advanced case of lymphoma. Her health declined rapidly nearing the end of her life. The time span between being told she had lymphoma to her death was less than a month. In order to fight any cancer, regular doctors visits are a first step; catching this disease early is what will save the most lives. When one becomes a "cancer patient" it can be difficult to not identify with it, but he/she is not just a cancer patient. They are a person suffering from cancer. The difference between these two viewpoints is key. One cannot view themselves as the terrible events happening to them, it should not be a defining attribute. Everyday I find myself longing for my mom. Whether it be to tell her about my classes, to hear her stories, or even just to hug her. I think of her everyday. In those times, I am also thankful she did not have to suffer for longer than she already had. Near the end, she was in tremendous amounts of pain, like many are. Even with all she was suffering through, during the last conversation we shared, my mom told me not to fly home until the semester ended. For her, my attendance at college was paramount. I will be the first person in my immediate family to earn a degree due to all of the love and encouragement my mother gave me. Life can through pretty nasty curve balls, cancer being one of them. A common fear in a cancer surviver is reoccurrence. However this fear cannot become a disability to how one spends their life. One must overcome, no matter how challenging it can prove to be. On another hand, there is a great deal of life we are unable to control. Finding this balance, of perseverance and letting go. In the fight against cancer there reaches a point of where no medicine we currently have will be of any aid. This terrible fact the most overwhelming to put thought into. When to stop fighting. However I am not done fighting yet, no matter what obstacles arise I will always push back for my mom. She always used to say, never stop learning. As I grew up this saying never had a heavy value, I always was in school I figured I was always learning. It was not until more recently when I realized she was not talking about school. Of course she wanted me to get a college degree and study while in school, but she also hoped for her children to learn outside of a classroom. Everyday situations arise with many different ways one could react. In order to make better decisions in life one must learn from mistakes, or even before that, putting deeper thought into how our actions really impact others. Before she passed, my mom waited to go see a doctor long after she knew something was wrong. Unfortunately this decision was made due to a harsh reality for many, the fact she could not afford health insurance and did not qualify for federal programs. The type of learning to help fight cancer would be for people to be more knowledgable about it, and having help that is easily accessed. I would like to believe if my mom had had better access to information she would have gone to a physician sooner, which is really the key to fighting cancer.

Samantha C. - University of Nevada - Read Essay »

To fight cancer, you have to be strong. Everyone says this, but it is the truth. You have to be so strong so that on your worst days, you can push through. You have to have trust. Trust in the doctors trying to help you. Trust in whatever religion you believe in. Trust is something my grandpa did not have much of. He passed away in 2006, the day before my 7th birthday, due to lymphoma. He did not like hospitals or doctors. I remember going with him, my grandma, and my cousins to his chemotherapy appointments. I do not remember much because I was so young, but I remember him being sad and in pain. He had cancer for a very long time and his fight eventually wore out. Many years later, in 2013, we found out my grandma had lung cancer; then it spread, everywhere. She did not have trust in doctors and hospitals much like my grandpa so she did not go get a checkup when she should have. When we finally urged her to go, it was too late and the cancer had spread too much. Maybe, if she had more trust in us and in medicine, she would have gone to the doctor sooner and she may have still been with us today. She passed away in September of that same year. In order to fight cancer, you need people who love you standing behind you to pick you back up when you fall. People who will stand by your side through the hard times. My grandparents had that, but our love was not strong enough to beat their cancer. Now, going into my freshman year of college, I will keep them in my heart. My grandpa fought for so long and I will remember that strength and use it to make my way through college; the good times and the bad. I believe in preventative medicine. Unlike my grandparents, I will put trust in doctors to save my life if it ever comes to that. Education could lead to a lightbulb in someone's head, which could lead to research, which could then lead to a cure. I hope that light bulb will shine bright soon so that people no longer have to feel that pain I felt when I lost my grandparents to this horrible disease. When my grandmother died, my aunt's true colors came out. She eventually ended up stealing part of my dad's share of the money the siblings got. She basically stole my college education. Now, because my family no longer have that cushion, my parents are going to have to pull money out of their savings to pay for my education. All my grandparents wanted to do was to watch my cousins and I grow up and succeed in life, but they no longer have that chance. Receiving this scholarship would help me to achieve what my grandparents would have loved to watch me do in life. Whatever I am going to achieve, I will do it for them and in their names.

Samantha M. - SUNY Geneseo - Read Essay »

Cancer the most influential, known to be a life-threatening disease that could make an individual suffer through life. One cancer that has proven to be the most involved in my life is breast cancer, I have known many people, close friends and family members that have fought the battle of cancer. Some pursuing a happy life afterwards and others who regretfully weren't strong enough to rid their body of cancer. Those who made the fight look easy still are affected, reminded of the battle and scars of the surgeries they had to receive. They love life now and understand how much life truly means, how important it is not to be ungrateful of what they have. Another family member that has had to fight cancer was my father, prostate cancer was not the news we were expecting the doctor to give us when we went into see him after my father's annual physical. The difficulty was that his blood work showed a small sign of this cancer but there were no other signs such as pain, or physical differences. We heard the options of treatment and tried to wrap our heads around the fact that my father had cancer. Luckily prostate cancer is part of the higher percentile of treatable cancers which gave us some comfort but my father still had cancer within his body. Everything you hear or experience from other people's situations and their stories, cancer is not something you can joke about and know that everything will be the same after experiencing it. The cancer was not the only life-threatening experience my immediate family dealt with that summer. Summer of 2016 was the worse summer of our lives, I experienced a hospital visit that lasted a month due to a lupus flare up that affected my kidneys, causing them to fail, along with a staph infection. The biggest shock for me was to know that I was sick to the point that my grandmother and uncle told me afterwards once I healed a bit, that they didn't know if I was going to be coming out of the hospital alive. My sister then suffered with pneumonia which she recovered but then caught it once more a few weeks later which she could not fight, taking her life. We lost her at the age of 36, three days after my birthday. We suffered from a shocking summer that just continued to scare all of us. My father then was diagnosed with his prostate cancer two months later. This diagnosis was just the icing on the cake, after experiencing these life changing events, our family has grown together and become more aware of how precious life is. I now take time to care for my health, along with watching over my family members, trying to help them live a life of happiness and fulfillment. It just seems that life can slip away in the matter of moments, and when you are made aware of something inside of you that could cause you to lose your life, you go through stages of rejection, grief, anger, the will to fight, and hopefully a realization of changing life style choices but sometimes the fight can't be won. In my father's case, we grew as a family and became closer, we know what each of us has had to give to one another and what it takes to support one another. Family is the most important support one who is fighting cancer can ask for, family and friends are the biggest influential factor in fighting and battling a disease in which you don't know what the result will be. Education, is another factor that can help fight the battle of cancer, hopefully one day soon finding new ways to prolong life. Education is one of the biggest dreams kids want to achieve when they are young, knowledge is power, I've always heard. If we could find a cure for cancer, the more families would no longer have to receive a phone call from the doctor telling you a loved one will have to start or continue fighting. When battling from my illness and then with my sister and father, my mother wanted to go back to school to study medicine. She is 49, bookkeeper and farmer; yet these experiences that she had to live through, watching her loved ones go through has made her want to achieve her dream of going back to school and finding a cure. She wants to change the world for the better and find new ways for the medicine we spend millions of dollars on each year, save more lives.

Sandra A. - University of Georgia Terry College of Business - Read Essay »

For me, going college or furthering an education is more than a gateway to attaining a successful future. College was the opportunity for me to manifest the "American Dream" my parents migrated from Nigeria to attain. Growing up, I witnessed my parents combat financial strife and the health issues of my dad all while simultaneously raising my siblings and I. Growing up my dad was always in and out of the hospital due to one reason or the other. June 2016 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I have seen my parents endure the perils of financial debt and imminent foreclosure but still find time to pick me up from Beta Club meetings or attend my little sister's dance shows at school. Thus, it is incredibly important to me that I make all of their tribulations and sacrifices worthwhile. It truly takes the grace of God and the unwavering love and support of family and friends to fight cancer. The ability to have a strong support system that is there to cheer you up during chemotherapy and put a smile on your face when the funds are not there physically. Everything I pursue in life has the underlying motive of reaping the rewards of my parents' sacrifices. Though my parents have been making ends meet for the past few years, they never hesitate to go the extra mile for my siblings and I. At times when we were submerged in a sea of poverty and stress, my parents always managed to instill hope in my mind that things would get better. In our misfortune, my mom incessantly reminded my sisters and I that "character would take us to places money, intelligence, and appearance would not." She constantly drilled into our heads that the amount of money we possessed in no way correlated with the promise we had to offer the world. My parents' devotion and diligence have shaped me into the young woman I am today. They gave me confidence to face the world at times when I could have allowed our circumstance to deter me. Upon going to college I was determined to aim high and achieve things that I normally would not have gone for. Motivation was key. Life molded me into the woman I am now. I majored in electrical engineering, a rigorous field in which most females typically do not pursue. Months leading up to graduation I was blessed with jobs offers from two competitive companies Texas Instrument and AT&T. I knew that my hard work was not in vein. After making one of the hardest decisions ever, I chose to work for AT&T. Working at this company has been one of the best opportunities, however I cannot stop here. I plan to fulfill every ounce of success I visualize for my future; that is the greatest gift I could ever give my parents. Now that I have the opportunity to garner everything my family lacked, I plan to further my education and obtain a master's degree in Business Administration. While working in corporate America I see a viable need to obtain an MBA because it will assist in developing my short and long term goals. Acquiring a strong technical business background will also pave the way for me in wider areas such as accounting, operations management, marketing, strategic management and professional and social development. I look forward to attending the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business program however I would need financial resources to pay for the program. My goal in life is to better myself so I can take care of my family and live a healthy and fulfilling life.

Sanjae C. - Clemson University - Read Essay »

Losing a life long pal, such as a pet dog, can be a traumatic event as a child. Not understanding where they go, or if they are coming back is the toughest division of all. When your parents decide to get a new dog, holding them the same is often un-comforting. I lost many pets when I was a child. Dealing with the next became easier and easier because it was expected. Nevertheless, I believe that life has a perplexing way of assisting us with grief; helping us become accustomed to the way it feels to lose something or someone we love. Because there is an end; every living thing dies. I began on a small island that you may know as Jamaica, but I call it home. At the age of 9, all of my documents subsequently went through and I was able to move to America and be with my mother. 9 years is a lengthy time to spend with someone. Principally when they were the first man you saw and one of the firsts to be held by. We were always close. He taught me how to swim. He taught me how to enjoy reading. He taught me how to teach. Leaving him was not easy, but he assured me that it was better to be in America. For my brains were limited in a developing country. I was 14 years old when I got the call. My father was suffering from cancer. My father was always a strong man; both mentally and physically. So when I answered my phone to a small, brittle voice the shock was imminent. He was experiencing great pain. Greater than what we both could understand because they were so foreign. As a 14-year-old, cancer is a severe topic. Solely because all I understood was that it took lives and was a painful thing to endure. After discovering that I might lose my father, I did not know how to feel. Soon after, I fell into a melancholy state. It was difficult to taste happiness. Years before, when my childhood dog fell ill, I knew he was going to die. Of course, I was devastated, but I was able to accept it soon before he passed. For I knew his pain would end. Accepting the possible loss of my father was a whole new Cricket match. A depressed child is a sensitive child. Soon enough, the dean of my school noticed that I was not being myself. She pulled me aside to talk, and I informed her that I was worried about my father's health. Mostly because he did not have the money to pay for treatment. When she asked me the type of cancer he had, and I told her that it was prostate, the look of worry on her face rose to comfort. That was the day I learned that not all cancer ends in death. That was the day I learned that some cancer can be easily treated. Forthwith, I spoke with him and the rest of my family and we all put together enough money to get him the treatments he needed. Although the symptoms come back ever so sadly, I live in the comfort of knowing that I will not need a new dad anytime soon. conclusively, educating young ones about cancer is an essential task. If my dean never told me that his cancer could be easily treated, I would have lived with the thought that there was nothing we could do to save him for a little while longer. The shock of losing my father was extremely devastating, and I would hate for a small factor of not knowing enough to dramatically impact any other child. Let us inform.

Sarah H. - Kent State University - Read Essay »

I first realized what I wanted to do with the rest of my life at eight years old. I found a passion for nursing, specifically nursing in the pediatric oncology unit. What shaped this decision was my brother. At the age of four, my and my family's life was changed forever when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He thankfully has been in remission for years now, but that was definitely a long, hard battle. I remember the exact moment when I realized I wanted to be a nurse. It was right after my brother was diagnosed, we were at Akron Children's Hospital. He was getting blood drawn and the nurses were having trouble finding his veins. He was screaming and crying, I had to step outside into the hallway because it was too much for me. I was curled up in a ball, crying, because my little brother was hurting and there was nothing I could do to stop it. A nurse walked by me and, instead of going about her day, she came and sat next to me. She did not even say anything, she just sat there, held my hand, and let me cry. I will always remember that moment forever. I realized then that I wanted to be a nurse and help others the way she helped me. I vowed to myself that I would be like that nurse, always providing excellent care and being a support for not only the patient, but their families as well. My beliefs cemented themselves through that period. One belief is to live your life to the fullest. It sounds cliched, but it is so, so true. You never know when your last day is. We take life for granted sometimes, when really life is an extraordinary thing. We stress about little things that will not matter in the next few years. Enjoy the life around you. I remember reading a quote that really hit me "You have cancer, you are not cancer". Cancer ravages your body. You lose your hair, lose weight, lose your energy, and you spend most of your time being poked and prodded. It's important to keep in mind that while it does not feel like it, you are so much more than your illness. One of the topics I feel most passionate about is education and awareness about cancer. It's crazy that we have not found a cure for cancer yet, when it affects so many people each year. I saw all sorts of children at the hospital. They were all so young, and it was so cruel to see them spending a large part of their childhood in hospitals. For our Make-a-Wish trip (a program that grants a wish to sick children) we chose to go to Disney World. We stayed at the Give Kids the World village, which works directly with Make-a-Wish. They have a room full of stars on the ceiling where they list children's names who have fought cancer, and "gives them to the stars". It was so devastating and an awakening moment, seeing all the children that passed away. One of the few good things that came out of this experience was meeting some incredible people. I've of course met wonderful doctors and nurses, but what impressed me even more was the children I got to meet in the oncology unit, when we were there (many times) with my brother. The kids were all so resilient. I don't think I saw a single one of them without a smile on their face. They were always so optimistic, always so happy. If I would see a child in the hallway or playroom, they would stop and talk. They loved playing games. I don't think I've ever played so much Candy Land in my life. What does it take to fight cancer? Perseverance, optimism, courage, support, and knowing that people behind you will always be fighting for you--and the millions of other people infected with cancer--and will not stop until we have found a cure.

Serella P. - Hampton University - Read Essay »

"Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts, not amidst joy" -Felicia Hemans Cancer is sickness that sucks and it takes a really strong person to fight such an unbearable sickness that not only breaks down the body but also the heart of loved ones. When a person battles cancer the family battles it too, it takes a strong God fearing person to fight this sickness because you have to stay strong and still live your life in the most positive way you can. I know this feeling because my grandmother lost her life to stage 4 lung cancer which ended up leaving her with air in one lung but my grandmother still prayed like she was in church, she still sang like she was singing like she was in her church choir. Watching her still pray to God and thank him for everything instilled in me faith and perseverance because although she knew her time was coming to an end she still thanked God for the life she lived and for the children and grandchildren she was blessed with. Those were very difficult times but I learned a lot about staying positive about situations like that because they are very challenging and no one wants to go through things like that and no one deserves to fight cancer or any other disease. Things like that build character in which you have to make accommodations for your loved ones you have to be a shoulder to lean on it just an experience that molds you to face challenges. I do believe education is the fight against cancer, being educated about cancer can help lower the chances of being affected some examples may be quitting smoking, watching what you eat, exercising and making sure you get check-ups rather it's for a mammogram, your heart, or prostate exams. Every little check- up or cut back can save your life and this goes for any disease too it's important to be aware of your lifestyle. Also you have to make sure that you explain to your doctors what is going on if you ever feel something isn't right and make sure you keep letting them know because my grandmother told the doctor about her chest pains and he never paid attention to it he just always prescribed medicine or just said it's probably stress. A person has to be in control of their health and speak up about it before it gets worse. We have to be educated about our bodies and our health because cancer is a deadly disease that can take over the whole body quickly that's why we must be aware of changes in our bodies and the way we feel it is better to catch it before it gets worse. My grandmother was already diagnosed with stage 4 cancer because it got really bad and they never paid attention to her symptoms. Education is essential when it comes to your health we all need to be treated when something isn't right no matter how small or big.

Seth W. - Ivy Tech Community College - Read Essay »

For a few months, I watched helplessly and hopefully as one my closest family friends, John Brown, try and fight off lung cancer. He ended up beating it. However, it came back and John sadly didn't win his fight and it was hard to watch his wife and my good friend Helena lose her husband. People like me that hate seeing other people in pain, this part was in the fact the hardest part of losing John. I didn't see John much during his fight because he didn't want people to see him the way he was. He wanted everyone to keep the image of John Brown alive and well in their minds. This is the John Brown I remember, the man who watched over my siblings and I like a grandfather would when our parents would go out. The aftermath of his passing is what was the hardest. The fact that Helena and my family have to go on living without the hilarious and computer savant, John Brown. Helena changed afterwards as one would expect. That light that I remember being in her eyes, was dimmed. Not completely gone but almost flickered out. The going on without that light is hard. However, what it takes to fight cancer is exactly what John had. Despite not wanting to see people much, Helena did tell me he lit up the room was in. He would laugh, make jokes, and still smoke cigarettes despite dying of terminal lung cancer. He had the "I mean hey, I'm going to die anyway I might as well enjoy a smoke" mentality and it was admirable. The minister of the church they went to also thought that and even helped sneak John out of his room one night for one last smoke. He noted that he felt like a secret agent. Positivity and acceptance are what is needed to fight cancer whether it's terminal or not. John was able to stare death in the face and puff cigarette smoke at it. What I learned from John is that you have to stay positive and stay who you are even in the face of any problem and even death. What that means to me is, that if I ever die I want to still be me. I want to be the person who can still believe in what I believe in despite any challenge that I may face. To not abandon who I am. Now education is a very important factor in preventing and fighting cancer. For starters, John probably wouldn't have gotten lung cancer if he didn't smoke so much in the service and knowing that cigarettes can kill you is a very important part of preventing lung cancer. With the amount of awareness that schools and televised advertisements raise, it's easier for kids and adults to know about the dangerous effects cigarettes can have the human body. Not just cigarettes, certain drugs, medicine and even foods can increase a person's chances for cancer. Education is important because it can save lives and I stand firmly with that belief through anything.

Sonya K. - University of Southern California - Read Essay »

Tenacity, patience and a plan. These three items are required to face a cancer diagnosis. Cancer is hard, it twists and turns and never seems to follow the outline of the oncologist or WebMD. IT seems to grow rabidly and unchecked until treated. Treatment takes patience. Hours of drips, multiple trips to the clinic and hospital and eventually trips from the bed to the bathroom. Patience from your loved ones and support system is helpful so they don't give up or give in when watching you deal with the hope, despair, and ever changing prognosis. My mom had tenacity, we all worked on our patience, but we did not have a plan. Cancer was such a surprise to us, such a ninja into our lives that we tried to ignore it. We decided that her cancer was like a common cold and eventually she would just recover and heal as if the Cancer had never come. IT was sheer luck that my father had sick days and worked at a place where he qualified for family leave so he could care for mom and take her to her appointments. Pragmatically they had emergency money set aside and their wills and life insurance plans filed with their lawyer. If Cancer sneaks in again, I will be prepared. Everyone will immediately be offered therapy to deal with fears, attachment and separation with the patient. Eventually my mother died and we were not prepared for the grief. We thought we were ready, but we were not. Greif laid waste to my father. My baby brother went into a tail spin. I will plan early for any care that needs to happen in the home and structural modifications will be made in a timely manner. "What should we do, why should we do it, and what happens if we don't?" These will be my first and most frequent questions. I will know the experts and gather as much information as I can. My understanding of the disease is rudimentary, but having born witness to it has made me an expert bystander. I advocate that anyone facing cancer do so with tenacity, patience and a plan.

Stephanie L. - Northeastern University - Read Essay »

I am Stephanie Luo. I am the older daughter of two, and I was raised in a single family household when my dad passed away when I was 10 from liver cancer. My dad is my role model because of the positivity he brought to our family. Even in his battle, he remained positive and encouraged us to remain hopeful and unified our family through the indirect effect of his struggle in physical health. His emotional strength resonated with me and carried me through the grief and brought me strength to support and uphold the values he embodied to create our family as a single unit. My dad is my hero because I believe I mainly contributed to both my mom and my sister's accomplishments to this day. I embraced my dad's previous responsibilities as my mom became a sole provider and cared for my sister immensely. Originally, my dad worked as a mechanical engineer, but my mom worked multiple jobs to support my sister and I financially, while we worked diligently on our studies to one day be able to land successful jobs. My dad's death reshaped our priorities and perspective on life. Life is short, my mom would constantly remind us when a negative event discouraged us. I consider my mom's emphasis on happiness and health to be her success from such grief because my mom embodied my dad's positivity in her ability to overcome obstacles. I used to be ashamed of my upbringing because not only did I lose my father, my parents immigrated from China. The language barrier limited their ability to excel in America whether it be their confidence to form connections and build relationships with people whose different backgrounds and skillset could enhance the quality of my family's life socially, emotionally, and economically. However, I am even more appreciative and proud of my family and our accomplishments and successes. Our shared hardship brought us closer than ever before. I understood my mom and my sister better and found ways in which I could support them. In addition to the language barrier, my mom's lack of education motivated me to help my sister in her studies. She is now a rising sophomore at Harvard University. As for me, I am grateful for the opportunities to share about my passions. I am an aspiring physician because I want to care for others, and I could not have afforded my education without the encouragement and hard work my mom provided and my sister's drive and confidence to excel. I want to live my life with purpose and take ownership in my education because my family's endurance while overcoming a shared hardship in a productive and loving way together inspires and allows me to find comfort and acceptance in times of difficulty. My academic path has been long and hard and will only continue to be that way, but my compassion, understanding, curiosity, and resilience for helping people will continue to guide me throughout my life in accomplishing my career goals and as a member of society, a friend, a daughter, and a sister. Fighting cancer is an ongoing process that has no bounds, but I believe it takes genuine love and caring support from others that encourages personal strengths in order to build strides towards the emotional fight.

Sydni B. - University of Washington-Bothell - Read Essay »

It takes a lot to fight against cancer, but I will name a few things just to keep it short. One of the things that it takes to fight cancer is a lot of strength. My grandmother had to have the strength to leave the doctor's office knowing that she had stage 4 stomach cancer and not let that hold her back. She had to accumulate the strength to tell her loved ones about this devastating news knowing that this would greatly affect their lives too. The strength to continuously go to the doctor's office and deal with different needles and medicines. The strength to keep hope alive not only for yourself but for your loved ones around you. Another thing that it takes to fight cancer is going through severe pain and long-term suffrage. Feeling sick a majority of the time and not being able to do the activities that you are used to. Feeling weak all of the time due to having to get your blood drawn whenever you go to the doctor's office. The pain of the tumor invading your whole entire stomach and not being able to stop it. the pain of not knowing if you are going to live due to the evil disease called cancer. The pain of having to lay in a hospital bed and have your entire stomach removed. Barely being able to get out of the bed due to extreme pain where your stomach used to be. incision pain that is so strong, even though you are taking many pain pills. Going to chemotherapy and losing almost all of your hair and not being able to do anything about it. One of the most important things necessary to fight against cancer is support. Knowing that others will be with you and will not leave your side. Being able to call someone and knowing that they will be there for you as soon as possible. Having others cater to your every need so that you do not have to stress any more than you already are. Having doctors working to save your life and knowing that you are in good hands. Knowing that other people love you and not feeling like you have nobody to talk to and see throughout your struggle. Education is important in the fight against cancer because doctors need to be educated on how to treat people with cancer. Whether it is surgery, medicine, chemotherapy or other things. If nobody was educated on what cancer is and how to treat it then a lot more people today would not be alive. doctors who went to medical school are necessary to deal with cancer. Not just anyone can treat a cancer patient which means that every year more people need to enroll in school to learn all about the causes, prevention, and treatment of cancer. In all, my grandma is a very strong woman who went through a lot to be alive to this day and I cannot even imagine how much she still goes through today. Her life has been affected forever and she will never forget the fear and pain that she went through. She will always remember her family, friends, and doctors who were with her at her lowest point. Her doctors are the main reason she is alive today and my family and I truly appreciate the education and skills the doctors had to go through in order to do this for her.

Tabatha H. - Henderson Community College - Read Essay »

It takes a Saint to fight cancer. At least, that is how my grandmother looked at it. After first being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing chemo and radiation, she one day requested to be called St. Judith, for her humility in the fight against cancer. And a Saint she was. My grandmother, Judith, was a puppeteer. Growing up as a child, her father was a photographer and her mother was a nurse. She rode along with her father on a lot of his photography shoots. In a time when creative arts were not very familiar, during the Great Depression, my grandmother's parents let her thrive at it. She began quilting, and knitting. As she grew older, she was accepted into University of Maryland, where she worked alongside Jim Henson (yes, the creator of The Muppets). She started designing and creating puppets. When she came home for a summer visit, she met my grandfather on a bus bench in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was just coming home from World War II, after fighting in the J Van Brown - Army PFC 287th Acorn Infantry division, Ardennes, and served on General Eisenhower's P.O.W. recon team. Anyways, they hit it off right away. My grandmother proposed her ideas, and he believed in her dreams. He used his business degree and her ideas, and they began The Heiken Puppets. Over the course of the next 43 years, they traveled all over North America, Greenland, and Canada performing. They stole the hearts of all who saw. When my grandmother was first diagnosed, my Aunt took over the shows while she underwent treatment. My grandmother hated being sick. She never liked germs before getting sick, and her dislike quickly turned phobia. By the end, she hated to even be touched or to touch anything; afraid of germs or cancer. It was important to let her rest in order for her to recover from the treatments. In her fight against cancer, it took a lot of humor, quick-witted remarks, sarcasm, and unconditional love. The first time around it was sort of a joke. She did not have cancer, it was not that big of a deal. She would do the treatment and be fine. And she was right, the cancer disappeared. Ten years later, she became sick again. Only to find out she had colon cancer. Devastated, she refused all chemo and radiation. She had regrown her hair halfway down her back, and she was keeping it! She did experimental drugs and lots of pain medication. She underwent surgery and had the cancer removed. Round number two, cancer free. Here she was in her seventies by now, happy and healthy. She was beautiful. She had long silver hair that fell down her back. She was so cute because she would pull it up in one of those messy buns the way you see teenagers pull their hair up. I also thought to myself how "cool" my grandmother was by the way she wore her hair. Cats. Maybe this is the answer to fighting cancer. She raised a family in her pole barn. Momma, daddy and their five children. She tended to them day and night. Changing litter boxes, feeding and watering them on a schedule. Heck, she even put an A/C and heating unit it to keep them comfortable. They were her motivation. She had to get back to her cats because they depended on her. She had to fight through to get back to them. Maybe, that is what kept her fighting. Whether it was her cats or the love of her husband and family, she kept on laughing and smiling through it all. The day came when she fell and broke her arm. Another trip to the hospital we went. But, this time we did not leave. After the x-ray, the doctor put her on hospice care and she died in three short days. Six years earlier, grandmother had been diagnosed with bone cancer. None of us knew, not even her husband. She had kept it secret. She did not want the attention anymore, she wanted to live her life. And she did. She woke up every day smiling, cooked all three meals for her family, quilted, and tended to her cats. She went out and watched movies at movie theatres. She ate at McDonald's. She did all this. She lived the most amazing life. She gave it her all, and she made sure she did not leave us feeling sad for her. She left us feeling proud of her feats. She did it. She beat cancer, because she lived not having anyone feel sorry for her. We didn't, we are proud of her. It takes someone who is willing to live. She was not cancer. She did not let it define her. Cancer was just a "germ." She was Judith, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a Saint.

Taury H. - Lane Community College - Read Essay »

Have you ever been so sad you couldn't find the strength to get out of bed, to take a sip of water, or to speak more than a single word to absolutely anyone? Well my mom experienced this type of gut wrenching sadness that consumed her entire being. She experienced it when my sister Karis passed away from cancer at the delicate age of four. Karis's life was unfortunately cut so soon because of a tumor in her brain. A tumor that not only took my sister's life, but part of my mother and father's lives along with it. What does it take to fight cancer? Every single ounce of strength you can muster in your body. It takes every muscle, every fiber, every part of your being to battle the toughest battle you will ever have to fight. This is not only true for those who are diagnosed with cancer but their loved ones enduring the evil disease alongside them. A disease that will push you so far down you are not sure if you are capable of ever getting back up. A disease where you have to watch someone you care for slowly die in front of you. A disease that makes you wish you were the one with cancer instead of your loved one who never deserved it. So when asked what does it take to fight cancer, I am not sure if I can put into words the amount of strength needed because I don't really think anyone has that type of power. My mother had been by my sister's side as she battled cancer for months and watched as my sister went from a beautiful and lively little brown-eyed girl, to a fragile four-year old who needed a breathing tube to keep her alive. My mother and father were in their early twenties during my sister's battle with cancer and not financially stable so they looked to friends, family, and anyone who could help with my sister's medical bills. In such a critical time in their lives the medical bills only broke them more. My mom made the toughest decision of her life, she decided to end my sister's by taking off her breathing tube and let her suffering end. Why should any parent have to make such a horrid decision? Who decided my mom had the strength to go on with life after that? The year my sister passed away wasn't much of a year for my mom at all. She existed, but that's about all. Months went by and she barely did as much as flinch when someone mentioned my sister's name. Christmas came around and my mom was so broken she didn't buy a tree or presents and left the rest of my family to celebrate themselves. It was a pain that would never leave my mom, it would stay there for months, years, and the rest of her life. My father did the best he could by still going to work and trying to raise my sister and I the best he could so that we would not see all the anguish my mother was battling. My mother and father grew apart though, almost blaming themselves for what had happened to Karis. They shouldn't have. I spent most of my childhood wondering why my parents never kissed or hugged each other, they could barely look each other in the eyes, but I was too young to understand the grief that Karis left them with. My sister took part of their hearts with her when she passed away, they were never the same and eventually their relationship withered into nothing. The years went by and my mom was now a single mother who was able to build the strength to attend nursing school, to make a difference in others lives that were experiencing horrific pain that she suffered through herself. I am beyond proud to say that she is now a charge nurse at a pediatric hospital who brings nothing but absolute happiness to the children and families she works with. She is a complete inspiration to me and I am excited to follow her and join her in the field of nursing. Education is important in the fight against cancer because I strongly feel that when friends, family, or loved ones are diagnosed with cancer, they are not the only ones who will physically, mentally, and financially battle the awful disease. If we are able to teach kids, teens, adults, or the elderly what could be possible signs of cancer or even how to prevent it we can save so many lives. Putting more money into events where doctors or nurses can do cancer screenings to give early diagnoses would be extremely beneficial especially in those who are not yet showing signs or symptoms of cancer. Events like this take a considerable amount of time and planning though so early education in high schools at the very least would be valuable. Any opportunity to educate those on the signs and symptoms of cancer would be incredible if it were able to save even one life because when someone is affected by cancer everyone around them is as well. I was recently accepted into Lane Community College's Nursing Program starting Fall 2017 and I would be absolutely ecstatic to receive this scholarship in hopes to help my mother with the financial burden she will have to endure throughout my time in nursing school. She is currently picking up any extra shifts she can at her hospital and it pains me to watch her work so incredibly hard to fund my education after she has suffered a massive heart attack two short years ago. My father unfortunately has not been a part of my life since a young age and my mother has worked an excruciating amount of hours to put me through college thus far. I am determined to be just as remarkable a nurse as my mother because I am confident in the fact that I will be able to help so many suffering through difficult times in their lives. I not only hope I convince you that I deserve this, but more importantly my mother does. The relief that this will bestow upon her is a relief that every nurse should get to experience for dedicating their lives to helping others live theirs.

Taylor M. - University of Oklahoma - Read Essay »

My father has lived the life that most people would term the "American Dream". He worked hard, provided for his family (with more than enough to spare), and he raised four little girls. But in his late twenties, my father was diagnosed with skin cancer. Although this cancer is not as fatal as some have the potential to be, the effects were brutal. As a hard laborer, my father was no longer able to work in the heat, under the sun. His abilities, skills, and finances were cut short; his self-confidence and happiness, too, was depleted. He returned to his job, now with less labor and less pay. To him, everything he had worked for was being thrown away, wasted. Given this situation, I can't think of anyone that wouldn't be utterly hopeless. But, with support and unending love from his family, my father managed to be okay; maybe he wasn't exactly feeling euphoria or bliss, but he was okay. And I think that's a large part of battling cancer, depending on and fighting for your family. Demoralizing times such as I've described, that surely so many of us have encountered, make us desperate to grab any ray of positivity we can; a family can be that light. I like to think that his fight wasn't so exhausting, with four daughters to help him through it. If my dad had no family, no daughters, I'm not sure how his journey might've ended. I'm sure he would've lived to tell his tale, but I hope my sisters and I made his recovery at least a little more bearable. In his mid-thirties, my father had finally been relieved of his cancer. The cancer that had snuck its way into and onto my dad's body had left us, at last. The cancer that taken form on my father's forehead and nose can now only be seen as faint scars. He was then able to return to work, be in the sun, and do what made him happy. Of course now he will forever be more conscious about his health, and he has yet to fully recover his self-esteem. But, now that we, as a family, have overcome this major obstacle, we are closer and stronger than before. Growing up with this experience has led me to be more cautious than other people my age; I eat healthier, I use the least toxic products I can find, and sunscreen is my greatest weapon throughout these searing-hot summers in Oklahoma. Going through this experience, especially as a child, shaped how I act today. In that respect, I am grateful for the insight it has given me. The precautions I listed above of course come from my experience, but they come from educating myself, too. If my father had been more conscientious and learned on human health, perhaps it all could have been prevented. Education (specifically health) should play an imperative role in anyone's life, and especially so in those at higher risk for health problems.

Terri B. - Life University - Read Essay »

Most would think that it takes an uncountable amount of medicine, treatments and therapies to fight cancer. They may even believe that by attending every doctors appointment, they will win the battle of this very disrespectful disease. Well I'm here to tell you that it doesn't quite work that way. My personal experience with cancer has changed my whole perspective on cancer health. My first close encounter with cancer death was when I had to watch my brother suffer daily for years fighting for his life, not knowing he had cancer but fighting other diseases that including sarcoidosis. Watching him go into and out of the hospitals on a weekly basis was heart breaking. Months before he passed, they found out he indeed had leukemia. On top of the many obstacles that he faced his body could not take another blow. His faith grew stronger and the reality set in. He was accepting his destiny at this point. Holding his hand everyday as he lie in the hospital bed, trying to accept the fact that he was leaving me made me realize what a horrible disease it can be. After the death of my brother, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother side of the family has a history of breast and ovarian cancer. My sister was the sweetest of the crew? She never had anything negative to say about anyone and was very spiritual and loved the Lord. She decided to have both breast removed as well as her ovaries so that it doesn't come back. After her surgery and some radiation, she felt better held her faith and never cried or complained about her situation. December came around and she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was pressing against her occipital lobe and causing her to lose her eye sight. Her spirits were high and she proceeded to remove the tumor. That was successful. Not even five months later, she was again diagnosed with a another brain tumor, lung cancer, back cancer and cancer on her left knee. It was then she wept in front of us while breaking the news. While preparing to arrange everything she decided that the chances she was given to survive was not enough for her and declined being hook to machines. She loved the lord and was brave enough to join him. Watching her transform through that journey taught myself a lot about the way I saw life. February 2016 my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had progressed to his left lung, liver and gut. My daddy is my world and I am a die hard Daddy's Girl. Finding out this news shook my entire world. My paternal grandfather had just died 5 years prior from prostate cancer and my paternal uncle was also diagnosed prior to my dad. My dad is the strongest person I know. He is the nicest and sweetest person ever. He never says no and he tries his best to help everyone and make the best of any situation. To see him struggling daily, just to breath, take a shower, put on clothes breaks me down. Seeing someone who was always a foundation to our family become a dependent person and totally outside his comfort zone is heart wrenching. Now that it has been a little over a year since his diagnosis, his older brother dies from the prostate cancer. Here is the kicker, just when I thought I have had enough, my mom get diagnosed in January 2017 with a rare form of oral cancer and I found out about that the day we left to visit Life University for Leadership Weekend where I had been accepted into the Doctor of Chiropractic program. The queen of the palace was now stricken with the even big C!! To see the fear in her eyes and the shatter of her soul that was enough to break anyone down. Having to witness all four of then daily, struggle to keep it moving, continue to work and make a living, all while keeping their faith family and will to fight showed me the true definition on what it takes to fight cancer. All of these deaths occurred while obtaining my bachelor's degree as well as my masters and now my D.C. Cancer health challenges have instilled many beliefs in me. I have had a very rocky relationship with God for a few years as to why he keeps taking my loved ones from me and if it really was a God. Going through the experience of watching how at peace they are when they accepted their calling, gave me some comfort and confirmation that they were happy and that God does exist. It has been a while since I have openly acknowledged the fact that I believe and this is the first time in years. My Master's thesis research project started out with synthesizing a drug to cure breast cancer because of what happened with my sister. I believed that I could contribute to the knowledge of breast cancer that would someday be exactly what we need to put an end to breast cancer. After my father being diagnosed with prostate cancer, I changed my project and worked diligently side by side daily to complete my thesis project on Prostate Cancer. Needless to say I graduated with a 3.8 April 2017 with my Master's of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology and is now currently enrolled to becoming a world famous and successful chiropractor to provide health to those that need it based on ,y philosophy in the chiropractic field. I believe that education is very important in the cancer health field in which, new discoveries are made. The upcoming research scientist are using their knowledge, the ability, influence and power to find a cure for all cancers and extend the lives of many. Continuing my education and offering the help my family may need would be a great deal to extend my knowledge about the body being a self healing, self maintaining organism for their health educational growth.

Thea W. - University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law - Read Essay »

I write to express my interest in a scholarship opportunity to pursue a Master of Science in Environmental Law at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland in order to broaden my understanding and enhance my ability to advance my interest to service the public and to protect human health and the environment. I am currently a Congressional Liaison at the US Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. and my portfolio include issues related to science policy, research and development, environmental information, and international environmental matters. By profession, I am an Environmental Scientist and I have conducted risk assessments to support national rule makings and guidance in the areas of dyes and pigment, coal combustion waste, solvent-contaminated rags and wipes, dioxin preliminary remediation goals and beneficial use of recycled products. I own a Bachelor of Arts in English from Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana and a Master of Science in Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana. I chose to study environmental science because I grew up in dubbed, Cancer Alley; the corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana along the Mississippi River and because I witness my countless health impacts as a result of environmental issues, education, socioeconomic conditions among minority populations. More specifically, as a child I saw my grandfather, a gas station owner/operator clean his hands of motor oil in gasoline - a hydrocarbon that is a known carcinogen. By the time I was a college freshman, he was suffering from the health effects of lymphoma and bladder cancer. Initially, I thought I could help my community by becoming a clinical physician but in time, I realized I can help them better and to greater degree, if I was a part of the science that shape public policy and public education. What I have learned is how to see science around me and help others understand science around them to support them in being a good steward of the earth we live in. As my career has progressed, I believe bridging my science education and experience with environmental law is important part of career landscape. In my current position, I see the value and intersection of law with environmental science; and I want to be a part of that intersection. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to analyze, advise, promote and position initiatives to be defensible from legal challenges by providing sound science. While working at the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, I routinely advised management on matters related to permitting to resolve environmental problems. An example of my knowledge of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was as an Environmental Scientist at the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ). One of my numerous responsibilities was as team lead. As team lead I assembled a team of scientists, engineers, geologists and attorneys to assess a permit application. The challenge of a particular permit application was to make a scientifically defensible recommendation to senior management to accept or deny a waste permit to an industrial waste disposal company. The context of this project was to make a determination of whether or not to allow disposal industrial waste (Subtitle D) into a hazardous waste (Subtitle C) landfill. Inevitably, the results incorporated enforcement issues that needed to be handled during the permitting process. This project was vetted to the public through a process similar to EPA's rule-making process (i.e., proposal, comment period and promulgation with response to comment). The application became highly controversial, primarily because of environmental justice issues and public perception. During the latter portion to the process, the deadlines became time sensitive which warranted further data gathering, public hearings, press conferences, internal briefings and external meetings with stakeholders. As a result of my efforts, a sound recommendation was forwarded to management for final decision. For all of these reasons, I believe that a Master of Science in Environmental Law is a logical next step in my professional development. I believe that I will be an excellent fit for this opportunity because I have proficient oral and written communication skills and a strong background in science policy, risk analysis, solid and hazardous related issues, enforcement related matters, as well as in-depth knowledge of research topics. This opportunity will improve the effectiveness of my career, broaden my knowledge base, assist in preparing to become a member of the executive service and provide a means for me to further serve the public.

Tiana B. - Case Western Reserve University School of Law - Read Essay »

The Warriors Before Me I sat on my mother's bed expecting a conversation on how I forgot to do the dishes once again. It was November of 2009 and I was nearing the end of my senior year of high school. Instead of the conversation I was expecting, I heard a word that I had become accustomed to before. Cancer for me was a distant relative. The uncomfortable familiarity with this sickness was unnerving and disheartening. Years before my mother revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, my grandmother and great grandmother fought the same battle . Now, it was my mother's turn to defeat this monster that seemed to haunt our family. It was not easy to watch the women who raised me struggle fiercely to save their lives. The cancer not only damaged their bodies, but it also vandalized their spirit, and destructed our family. I did not cope well with seeing my mother fight tirelessly to remain on this Earth. The worst part for me was knowing that there was nothing I could do. There seemed to be some comfort in the past victories that my family had with breast cancer. I had faith that since my great grandmother and grandmother had defeated cancer, then my mother could and would do the same. Yet, there was still a sense of concern because I knew how much intensive fighting my mother had to be subjected to in order to win this battle. Thankfully, my family became victorious once again over breast cancer. We are now 3-0. Watching my three warriors go through the fight of their lives taught me valuable lessons that I have continued to use over the years. Firstly, I learned how important faith was. When I asked my mother how did she defeat cancer, she have replied, "I had faith in God. I never questioned him and I knew that if I did my part, he would do his" . I could not understand how she could relinquish control over to God during such a difficult time. As I got older, I began to understand that in order for her to have peace with whatever the outcome was, she needed to anchor herself in her faith. I may never know why things happen the way they do or what the outcome will be, but having faith gives me the ability to accept it and conquer anything that comes my way. The second lesson I learned from witnessing my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother's battle with breast cancer was to never, under any circumstance, give up. My grandmother has always told me that no battle is over until it's over, and even then, there is a second round. Their determination is unmatched. Their drive and perseverance is admirable. Regardless of what difficulties I face, I have learned to keep going. I almost gave up on my dreams of attending law school and becoming a lawyer. I decided to go back to school with a nine month old baby and it proved more demanding than I had anticipated. After talking with my mother on multiple occasions, she reminded me that giving up was never an option. How could I dare think of giving up on my dreams, when my mother refused to give up on her life? How could I complain about how tough it was to go to school fulltime, work full time and be a mother was, when my mother defeated breast cancer without not one complaint? I had no right to give up if my mother refused to throw in the towel. After graduating from college this past May and receiving admissions to law school, people have asked me how did I do it while juggling all of my responsibilities. I always think back to my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. Their determination is instilled in me and their resilient fight is embedded within me. Everyone has their own battles, fights, and victories. Those who fought the battle with cancer to win a victory over their lives should be our motivation to never give up. My three warriors are my answers to why I never gave up.

Tiana P. - Elmhurst College - Read Essay »

As a little girl, I always looked up to my dad; he was the strongest and most knowledgeable man I have ever met. My dad taught me countless lessons and instilled morals while growing up. He showed me how to be a part of a team, as well as to be independent. However, the best thing my dad ever taught me was how to be strong. Almost four years ago on a Thursday afternoon, my life completely shattered. I heard the news that my dad had been rushed to the hospital because he was unresponsive. My mind was spinning in a million directions, I was completely frozen, and I couldn't move or speak. My mind was telling me to go but my body was incapable of moving. The following morning my dad had passed away, I had no way to express how I was feeling. It felt as if my world came crashing in, I was depressed and miserable for what seemed like an eternity. My insides felt hollow, and I couldn't find anything to fill me back up to the happy and cheerful person I once was. Ten days prior to this we found out my dad had a brain tumor. My entire family was devastated when we were told the news; it was so petrifying not knowing if my dad was going to be okay. I had no idea what was going to happen to my dad I absolutely hated that. But through it all, my dad managed to stay strong. Strength beats cancer. My dad represented every aspect of strength. No matter how many doctors' appointments my dad went to, he always knew how to keep my mom and I smiling. He would joke around and act as if everything was fine when he knew it wasn't. I never once saw my dad cry or get upset in front of my mom and me. He was the strength that held our family together. Going through life without my dad has been the hardest thing I could ever have imagined. But as time went on, I became stronger; I had to. It didn't happen over night, or even within a few months, but eventually, I got there. The hardest thing about my dad's passing is that he never got to see me finish growing up. Everything I am is because of my dad; everyday I strive to be the daughter he would be proud of. I know he is still watching and can see how strong I have become, and that is all because of him. All the strength that I have was given to me from my dad. The passing of my dad has shaped me to be a stronger, more independent person. I have learned that it's okay to cry, that I can count on my friends and family to always be there for me, but most importantly, I have learned to not take things or people for granted. Life is short and not guaranteed. I've always wanted to make my parents proud, and even more so now. As a child, or even four years ago, I never imagined my life to be the way it is now, or that I would be the person I am today. I will be going into my junior year of college this fall at Elmhurst College, ironically in the same town my dad grew up in. Receiving this scholarship would be an immense help for my mother and I paying for school. My education is very important to me as it always was for my dad. Cancer destroys lives, and truthfully I am sick of hearing heartbreaking stories that were caused by cancer. With education and with the help of scholarships like this one, we will find an end to cancer. Although losing my father is the worst thing I have ever faced, what I gained from the situation is priceless, and in the end I am proud to say, I am a stronger person because of my dad.

Timothy K. - Illinois State University - Read Essay »

What it takes to fight cancer? It takes courage, not just for the person going through it but for the family members all around them. My first experience with a family member who had cancer was my grandma who developed breast cancer. I was young at the time and I didn't really understand everything that was going on. I just knew that my parents were hurt and that my grandma was hurting but we couldn't do much to help her. Luckily she was one of the survivors. My grandpa however wasn't so lucky. Two years ago my grandpa developed cancer. A year ago he passed. The pain I saw my grandpa go through was horrendous. But what might have been worse was the pain I knew my grandma was going through watching the love of her life die slowly in front of her and her not being able to do anything about it except make his last few days more comfortable. It destroyed me, how something so terrible could happen to two people who were so wonderful and so loving it just shocked me. I went to visit them a few weeks before he died and I cried. I know our society tells men that to cry is to be a wuss and men shouldn't cry but... seeing someone you love, waste away... it is soul wrenching. Fighting Cancer takes courage, not just for the person it has gotten a hold of but also your loved ones as well.

Waleska P. - West Coast University - Read Essay »

I was thirteen when my Grandmother the woman who raised me began her renewed battle with cancer. I did not know at first why my grandmother whom I had always been extremely close with suddenly started pushing me away. Who had me go back to live with my mother, telling me she was growing to old to continue raise me. She would tell my aunts when she thought I could not hear her that she knew I would suffer. I did suffer. My grandmother was no longer raising me but she would call constantly. One day when she called I knew in her voice that she was not okay. Her voice sounded distant and I knew. I can not explain it but I knew that something was not right.The clinical term is anticipatory grief. I knew I was losing my greatest treasure. The women that taught me unconditional love, kindness and grace in the face of so many obstacles. She was the strongest women I had ever known and now she did not seem like wonder women. She was vulnerable. I felt broken, helpless and for the first time ever hopeless. I would come home for months lock myself up in the bathroom and cry while the shower was running so no one would know that i was really struggling. At night I would cry self to self to sleep. Cancer is the word that everyone fears. The word that can bring tears to your loved ones eyes in just seconds. Cancer the big C can make you believe your life is over before you even got a chance to start it. My grandmother the woman who raised me was diagnosed with cancer at 40 years old right after her youngest son was born they told her it was in advance stages and that she only had months to live she beat the odds and was able to raise her young son and me her granddaughter before the cancer returned. So it is no wonder I believed she was wonder women. The worst thing as a thirteen year is not that you have lost hope but that the strongest person you know has conceded defeat to a disease. That the person that meant the most to you would no longer be there. My grandmother was a talented seamstress and had made eaver dress I owned she was also very known the community her amazing cooking. I was not giving the opportunity of time to have her pass down this part of her. So I also grieved the part of her that was supposed to live on in me. Though I did not develop the skills she had in the kitchen or her talent as a seamstress she did pass on the kindness and love she showed others. As a student nurse I look forward to sitting alongside of those who are confused, scared and grieving and provide hope and support in anyway it is needed. I hope to use what I have learned in school and life experiences to educate on treatment, prevention and comfort measures. What does it take to fight cancer, for my grandma I believe it was her hope and her strong will not to leave her newly born son. She was not educated on treatment, her family was not educated as to her outcome. I wish my grandmother was educated on cancer treatment and prevention, and even comfort measures at the end maybe it would have decreased anxiety that her and the rest of her family felt.

Zacharias H. - Concordia University School of Law - Read Essay »

Throughout our nation one of the leading causes of death is cancer. Many people have loved ones who have suffered from this desease and I am no different. While most strictly associate this illness with suffering and death however, I prefer to look at those positive emotions and feelings that arose from a terrible thing. . Growing up my parents never allowed the children in my family to spend a great deal of time with our aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents. This more than likely occurred simply because I grew up in a family where my father was the only one who had a full time paying job , while my mother stayed at home and spent all of her time raising the seven children in my family. However as the children in my family grew up and my older siblings began moving out and starting families of their own, our family still never saw these people because we didn't know them. This all changed when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. In April of 2010 my grandmother first received the news that she had cancer. My father's mother was in her late 70's and was told that in her current condition and time in her life that her body would not be able to hold up for more than a year. As soon as my father heard the news he called all of his siblings. Over the next several months plans were made throughout my family. I had two uncles and one aunt move back into Washington state where my family and my grandmother lived. Her husband had passed away several years earlier, and while our family was rarely able to see our grandmother, we had moved within an hour of her years before in order to help take care of her if anything ever happened. I also had several cousins who lived in various parts of the state begin coming over to spend time with our grandmother every couple of weeks. My parents also took me along with my two younger siblings, the only kids left at home, to see our grandmother every weekend. While my grandmother had been told that she would soon pass away a drastic change took place over the next few months. It seemed that our grandmother had new life inside her. A vibrant energy could be felt when our family came together to help support and spent time with her, and while her cancer never went away, we had the fortune of spending a great while longer than a year with her. Rather than passing away alone seven years ago, my grandmother passed away last spring surrounded my her entire family. My father comes from a family of seven children similar to mine now, and all of her children were by her side when she passed on to see her husband once again. Along with her children, hrer children's children were there too, along with their children. Furthermore when it came time for her to pass on, she was at peace and ready to move on knowing for certain that her last moments would be spent with the one's that she loved. So what does it take to fight cancer? While some who have cancer are able to take treatments or have surgery to be free of its deadly grasp, others are not so lucky and are forced to live out the remainder of their lives with this burden. However, I believe that the best way to fight this cancer is to have the love and support of your family and friends. My grandmother, despite being in a position where she was told that she had no treatment options and that she would soon die, was able to live a great deal longer than predicted with a much better quality of life. I am certain that this occurred solely because of the influence of love and support. So, while cancer is a truly terrible thing, and I truly feel sorrow for anyone who had to live with this disease, or see their loved ones deal with it, I am forever greatful for the impact that it had on my life because it allowed me to become close with my family, which is truly a priceless gift that will greatly impact me for the rest of my life.

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

$5,000 for
scholarship fund

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

$3,000 for
scholarship fund

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

$2,000 for
scholarship fund

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.

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.

The eligibility criteria for our 2018 scholarship program are the following:

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old and U.S. citizens
  • Applicants must be enrolled full-time in a U.S. accredited two-year or four-year university, community college or junior college, or in a graduate degree program
  • Applicants must have a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 or higher
  • Applicants must be students who witnessed a parent, sibling or other immediate family member battling cancer

All students who meet the requirements above need to apply until July 31, 2018. The winners will be notified by the end of August 2018 and their essays will also be published here, on our scholarship program page.

2018 Scholarship Application

*The essay must be between 500 and 1,500 words.

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Necessary Documents Required from Potential Winners

  • One copy of Official High School or College Transcripts
  • Publicity/Liability Release
  • Copyright Assignment
  • A head-shot picture of the applicant in high-resolution (If selected as the winner, your image will be used in the announcement made on the site).
  • Deadline: July 31, 2018.

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