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Our 2019 Scholarship Program

Our 2018 Scholarship Gold Winner - Nicole S., University of Utah - Read Essay »

What Does it Take to Fight Cancer?

I always wanted to study psychology because I was interested in thinking mechanisms, why do people think like that about a certain issue, what is making them stronger in certain situations etc. As a freshman, I dedicated my time to it, completely. And the books helped, the research on the internet helped, talking to my teachers, also helped. But it took a lot more for me to really get close to the core. In August 2017, I decided to visit my parents, the school was about to start so I had to make the best out of my time. It was 2017 when I really understood what it takes to walk through hell and keep on going until you reach the exit.
My beloved mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her dark brownish hair, her pride, was gone. Her olive skin turned pale. That blue dress she loved, no longer fits. I was devastated, ready to yell at the man upstairs, ready to drop from school, me, a psychology student who thought I knew it all. But my mom wasn't even close to giving up. She bought a wig, she put on make-up and asked me to shop for a new dress to fit her. As exhausted as she was, she never stopped smiling, she never spoke about the C-word, but she was constantly asking "How's school?", "Did you make new friends?". I was angry at her for ignoring that awful monster who decided to move in and live with us. My father drove her for her check-ups and chemo sessions. I was prepared for the worse. I just knew it's gonna happen.
But it didn't. My mom won this fight with a smile on her face, exhausted and no energy left. The C-word. We all know about it, but it's the relative we never talk about. After a while, I asked her "how?". She didn't say anything, just pointed at me. I understood then. She never considered dying. So, what does it take to beat cancer? To this day, I'm not sure if it's mental strength or motivation not to give up, family or faith. It might be all of them. So I want to continue my studies in order to find out and help other people fighting the monster.

Nicole S., University of Utah


Our 2018 Scholarship Silver Winner - Mike H., University of Southern California - Read Essay »

What Does it Take to Fight Cancer?

What does it take to fight cancer? Everything you've got and everything you never knew you had. Your mind, body, health, joy, even your faith. You gotta put everything on the table and play the card you've been given. I'm a student at the University of Southern California. I play sports. I go to parties. But if anyone were to ask me "who are you?", I'd say "I'm a grandson, a brother, a son, a friend". Two years ago, I had to be all that in order to beat cancer. I was diagnosed with kidney-related cancer, stage II. I remember what it should have been an ordinary check-up and how I stood there, emotionless, in shook, while my doctor was talking to me.
Son, we have to start talking about the procedure, the medication. I drove for two hours straight, with my mind still numb, to get home. That's when it got real when I broke the news to my parents and to my younger sister. We knew we gotta fight it. And we did. It took everything. I experienced depression, death-related thoughts, some days I was ready to give up, then some days I felt like I can move mountains. My health was poor, my mind was playing tricks on me, I witnessed my parents crying, my sister scared, my friends, looking at me with pity. I couldn't let them down. I still have school. I still want to become an engineer. So I fought as hard as I can, I took my meds, did my chemo. A year after, I was cancer-free. Thanks to my family and all my loved ones, to my doctors, I won.
What does it have to do with education? Well, well-trained doctors, research I did on my own, my motivation to go back to school, it all helped. I've read everything about it, so I found out it's a health issue and I can beat it, it's not a mythological monster with superhuman powers. Now I'm back in school, got a job to help my parents because they had to pay for everything, all my medical bills, and treatments. No matter what you choose to study, knowledge is a winner. My doctors were once students, and look at them now! They're saving lives. I'm a student and I hope I'm gonna change lives in my own way and my own domain. I want to empower people, I want them to know that we're stronger than a bunch of cells who decided to go nuts.

Mike H., University of Southern California


Our 2018 Scholarship Bronze Winner - Jason R., University of Michigan - Read Essay »

What Does it Take to Fight Cancer?

When I stumbled upon this contest, I knew I had to share my story. I'm a volunteer at the American Cancer Society Michigan. I'm a student at the University of Michigan. One day I hope to be a lawyer. One day I hope more and more people will get educated about cancer. When I think of grandpa, I always picture this old man dressed in a red shirt and khaki pants, always singing just for himself and still telling my grandma that she's beautiful. He worked as a shipyard engineer for decades, so he always had stories to share. Unfortunately, not only that. He died of cancer last year, in May. Diagnosed with mesothelioma, the most radical and aggressive form of asbestos-related cancers, he lost the battle. We all lost the battle he fought. I didn't know anything about cancer back then. As I started reading about it, I found more and more studies about asbestos, about working conditions back in the time. I found out about lawyers and attorneys fighting against it, trying to win cases for victims or their families. In my mind, I knew. I knew this is it, this is what I gotta do. More grandpas and grandmas will develop a form of cancer without having the chance to face the giants who allowed this to happen. I'm gonna be an attorney. I will make sure my grandpa didn't die in vain.
I will educate myself and maybe when the monster strikes again, I will be ready to fight back. Knowledge is not only power. It's a seat at the table, a ticket allowing you to fight back whatever it is that's hurting your loved ones.

Jason R., University of Michigan



We also are considering these applicants automatically in our 2019 scholarship due to their unique ideas in their essays:

Julia G. - Stanford University - Read Essay »

We hung up the phone. There I was, eight thousand miles away, not sure if I was ever going to see her again. My grandmother had made healthy choices all her life. She never smoked, didn't drink all that much, and was a star track and field athlete in her youth. She ate a balanced diet and exercised daily. On top of it all, she was an accomplished engineer and she worked hard to support her family. Boy, did she love her children and grandchildren. She spoon-fed me when I was little, completely spoiled my toddler self, and was there for my first babbly Chinese words, first tantrum, first photo, first walk, first mess. She'd flown all the way to America just to help take care of me while my parents were toiling in their day jobs (I was the night shift). And now, she had bladder cancer. Bladder? CANCER? Where did this come from? There had been no history of cancer in our family. Three years ago, that's when this whole battle began. Three continents removed from where my grandmother was, and thrust directly into the brunt of my junior year of high school, I felt lost. Distraught. What could I do to help, and how was she going to recover? Luckily, my aunt in China lived quite near my grandmother, and she, my uncle, and my grandfather immediately sprang into action, going to every hospital in the area, seeking the best medical treatment options. Our family WeChat group chat blew up with notifications on treatment strategies, outcomes, and risks, and I became more familiar with Chinese cancer terminology than I honestly would have liked. Every week, my parents and I would sit down and FaceTime my grandmother, seeing her lying on a backdrop of angel-white sheets, her soft gray hair being attacked by relentless chemotherapy, her face pale, her lips purple. She would say she was fine. Because, like always, she just didn't want us to worry. Weeks passed. Months passed. We kept up the research, the different treatments, from Chinese herbal therapy to western therapeutics, and as an American Born Chinese child, I had the blessing of being able to search on both Google and Baidu for all sorts of remedies. Brainstorming leaked into every aspect of our lives. And finally, after about six months, my grandmother was cleared for release from the hospital. We thought the fight was over. It wasn't. The cancer made a stealthy comeback soon after, and she was immediately sent back for even more chemotherapy. But in every FaceTime video and selfie she sent us, she had her lips turned up in a weak smile. She made jokes about how years of great health actually came back to bite her. We would talk about her favorite soups and books and shows, and she'd tell me stories about when I was little, or the last time I visited her in China. She wanted so much to be happy, and she wanted us to be happy, too. So, we would smile and wave back, but when the camera stopped rolling, my mom and dad were visibly shaken, tossing and turning in their sleep. It's such a terribly debilitating sensation to feel that helpless. When someone you love so much is dying, and you can't do a single thing about it. It was quite a few months before things started turning around again. Even then, after the second scare, we were on edge about whether the cancer would reappear once more. I don't know what we would have done if it did. Fight more. Search for cures. Fly to China. Prepare for the worst. But, thanking our lucky stars, we didn't have to. My grandmother recovered from the disease with a vengeance, and the cancer was gone. For good, or for now? We don't know. We still don't know. In fact, every family impacted by cancer knows this - we'll never know for sure. But we know that even if it's only for now, our family is always ready to get behind her and fight this thing together. Every darn time. So, what does it take to fight cancer? It takes grit. It takes luck. It takes living each day for itself. It takes being thankful for the little things. It takes smiling through the pain, not to put a show on for others, but truly for yourself. It takes being okay with not knowing what's coming next. It takes perseverance. It takes being positive even when everything is going wrong. It takes believing in the power of family. It takes trusting others can do their job. It takes unconditional love. It takes relentless searching. It takes fighting like hell, but accepting fate if and when it comes. It takes putting everything else down. It takes putting your health first. It takes believing that everything will turn out the way it was meant to. It takes sending care and support across continents and oceans. It takes reaching out for help. It takes community. Most of all, it takes strength of mind, of body, of spirit. My grandmother had all of these traits and more. And, through a pleasant miracle, the old man in the sky decided to let her continue living this magical life. And it definitely isn't without challenges now, either. She now has developed other ailments, including Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, joint inflammation, and multiple back injuries from the acts of careless public bus drivers and resulting unpleasant falls. She lives on the twelfth floor of a narrow apartment building, but finds time to get out of bed into her wheelchair and out into the garden a few blocks away to enjoy nature. But she's always smiling. Even when she's hurting, even when she's fighting, she's smiling. Not for show. Because she wants to. That's my grandmother. I love her, and I am so proud of her. Watching her fight this battle has, if anything, has made me respect the wise words of Finding Nemo's Dory a lot more: "Just keep swimming." Because even when times have been tough, my grandmother has been tougher. And that's what counts. Beyond the spiritual level, this experience has left an indelible mark on me as a person, and my passion for searching for the cure for cancer has found its way into my academic life as well. The summer after my junior year of high school, I developed a skin cancer detection software using image analysis and statistical modeling in hopes of preventing this deadly, but much more discoverable and preventable disease than the one my grandmother contracted. I was fortunate enough to present my project at multiple data science conferences and give a TEDx Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M084QBc1vvw) on my project, with the theme of setting unattainable goals. Now more than ever, I've found that this theme permeates every aspect of our lives: Even when we don't think we can make it, we must trust that we can, and fight for it. This summer, having gained more skills from three intense quarters of Stanford education, I'm now building deep convolutional neural networks for malignant tumor segmentation in liver CT scans in partnership with a group of hospitals in the Netherlands. I've found my niche and passion in biomedical image analytics, the tantalizing world where I can develop software that just might save someone's life. My family and I can personally tell you: Finding a tumor early really makes all the difference. That's what keeps me going every day. One step closer to the cure is one more life we might be able to save. One life is an entire world. And that makes everything worth it. Finding the cure and fighting cancer has personal significance to me. Seeing my grandmother alive and well and her being able to see all the things I'm doing in this field mean more than the world to me. With my family united and standing together, there's literally nothing that can stop us. My grandmother is a cancer survivor. She is my inspiration. She is one of my biggest rocks. And, most of all, she is a fighter. And boy, oh boy, did she show me what it takes to fight cancer.

Vishwajith S. - Harvard Medical School - Riverside - Read Essay »

In Sanskrit, my name is derived from two roots, "vishvam" meaning "˜everything that was, is, or will be' and "jeeth" meaning "˜to conquer.' My grandma named me; she was a single-stay-at-home-mom with a 3rd grade education, who raised five kids in the rural, south Indian town where I was born. My grandma also helped raise me, as my mom worked many jobs and my dad had traveled to the US to send money back to India to help pay our debts. It was only when I turned 9 that he had saved enough money to buy my mom, my sister and I plane tickets to join him. Once in the US, I'd call my grandma every week, and even though she was halfway across the world, she'd keep telling me that the better I did at school, the better off my family would be. I took her words to heart, and poured myself into my education. After graduating from high school, I chose to attend UNC Chapel Hill as a Carolina Scholar, a full-tuition merit scholarship. That was also the year my grandma died of abdominal cancer in India, but we couldn't afford the plane tickets to go to her funeral. I remember the last phone call I made to my grandma; someone else had to hold the phone to her ear by the bedside because she was so weak from her chemotherapy. Starting college, I realized I knew almost nothing about the disease that killed my grandma, and at college, I shifted my research interests from HIV to pancreatic cancer. For the next four years, I spent most of my free time in a biophysics lab under Dr. Henrik Dohlman who worked on KRas, the protein that is the most mutated in pancreatic cancers. I studied what makes cancer proteins unstable thermodynamically, and then developed computational algorithms to design drugs that target specific cancer mutations. Research and education is so critical in the fight against cancer because you cannot defeat a disease you don't fully understand. My vision is to fight cancer involves developing novel and affordable cancer diagnostics and therapeutics for underserved communities. In the past few years, I have worked closely with rural populations in Uganda and homeless individuals in Chapel Hill, NC, and my experiences have taught me that the most vulnerable patients often have the worst access to adequate care for chronic diseases. In popular media, most of the burden of disease in the developing world is thought to be from HIV or malaria, but there is also a clear and present danger from cancer, which is dramatically increasing in incidence. I had traveled to Butongole, Uganda in 2011 to conduct fieldwork on access to healthcare services to see how my lab work translated to the field. There, I was surprised to repeatedly see patients with advanced cervical, breast, or oral cancers; most of them had never been to a doctor before. In many cases, routine screening could have caught the cancer at an early stage, and in other more disheartening cases, the patients with advanced cancers were now unable to afford the continued cancer therapy. My most painful memory in Uganda surrounds discussing with a husband that selling their peanut farm would not be enough for his wife's cancer treatment. In many ways, the situation I saw in Uganda was no different than that of my grandma, a woman from a rural village in India whose abdominal cancer was not detected until it was too late. Returning to the US from Uganda, I wanted to continue working with low-income communities closer to home, and took on a leadership role in growing a Chapel Hill-based non-profit (Community Empowerment Fund or CEF) that provides homeless individuals with savings opportunities and job training. Here too, I witnessed a striking correlation between health problems and homelessness. Personal health took a back seat for many of our clients; and by the time the breast cancer or throat cancer was detected; it had already spread too far. A landmark study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last year confirmed exactly what I had seen: low-income patients stop taking breast cancer medication because they can't afford the prescription copay, nor can they afford to skip work from the side-effects. This problem is largely two fold: lack of effective, less-toxic cancer therapies and the astronomical costs of chronic cancer care. I want to spend my career at this junction of drug development and community based clinical research, and work to develop my and others' research on cancer therapeutics into affordable products on the market. Since coming to Harvard Medical School, I have continued to work on novel and effective cancer therapies. My current projects are on cancer immunotherapy, where the patient's own immune system can target and eliminate tumor cells. This exciting new strategy has already revolutionized advanced cancer care, and my work centers on building new immune checkpoint antibodies for several cancers. Cancer immunotherapy can often be far less toxic than chemotherapy, but produce even better outcomes for patients. As I reflect over my experiences, I wonder what my grandma would've thought of this essay. Even though she had little idea of the disease that killed her, her values and commitment to education live on, and are what have inspired me to pursue my chosen career and research interests. Ultimately, fighting cancer requires finances, commitment, and tremendous emotional energy on the part of the patient and their families. On the flipside, it involves equal commitment on the part of the medical community, many grueling hours of work in the lab, and working with industry leaders to bring new therapies to the market. In Sanskrit, "jeeth" means to conquer, and in honor of the woman who named me, I believe that we will one day conquer cancer.

Heather R. - Grand Valley State University - Read Essay »

What does it take to fight cancer? While watching my stepmom face the battle that is cancer over three years ago, I feel I asked myself this question often. Growing up with my stepmom from the age of six, she truly became my mom in every sense of the word. She worked tirelessly for my sister and I, loved us just as her own, and sat in the stands during our track meets and plays. This woman was my mom. As I still stand in awe of the incredible woman who raised me, that question continues to loom over me with one resounding answer. LOVE. I once read a quote that said, "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." (The exact source is uncertain.) In the days, months and years leading up to my mom drawing her last breath, this never rang truer. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the summer of 2012 and as to be expected, our family was shaken. At the center stood my mom and dad, reassuring us we didn't need to rush back to Montana right away because there was nothing to be done at the moment. My mom was taken to surgery and the doctors removed as much as they could, leaving 10% to be treated with chemo and radiation. As time ticked forward, treatments and more surgeries were in store. I remember my mom briefly going into remission although I can't say for certain just how much my parents disclosed to my sister and me. I now know how they sought to protect us through all of this. As the cancer became a part of our lives, nothing could have prepared us for the loss of this integral part of our family. My parents had moved South so my mom could be closer to a treatment center in Atlanta, along with escaping those freezing Montana winters. It was in Alabama where we would spend our last Christmas as a family. The front porch where my mom could enjoy quiet mornings over her cups of coffee. The most important part of that home being the love that filled it. In February 2015, I received the call that the doctors had given her 30 days. I booked the next flight I could and was on my way. I spent the final two weeks with my mom, trying to make her as comfortable as possible along with the nurses and aides who checked in daily. My mom had strength and courage BECAUSE of such deep love. Love of their work and helping others as shown by the doctors, nurses, and aides. An outpouring of love from her family and friends. She could face the next day and the day after, knowing we would be there. I had never realized the extent of a love so big until I was there with her, facing this ugly beast called cancer. My mom had given so much of herself for us that there was never a doubt as to whether I would be present, taking great care to make her feel comfortable. In her unending love I found strength like no other. I am reminded of this each time I am faced with a trying situation. So yes, courage, strength, and determination are all needed to fight cancer but they so often stem from somewhere else. From the people surrounding us. From that quiet place within telling us we need to keep going. From the love of something bigger than we could ever know, passed on for years to come. As time wore on and discussions were had with my dad following the loss of my mom, certain things came to light. My dad revealed that deep down, they knew the cancer was nearly impossible to beat. They went to Alabama because my mom had always wanted to retire there. I'm grateful my dad was able to give her so many Alabama sunrises and evenings through his love. My mom didn't let on much but we could tell at times. The cancer was wearing her out but in her stubborn love all she wanted was for us to enjoy our time together. On her last day with us, I gave my mom a hug before leaving. (I was unable to stay longer due to financial circumstances.) As I held to her frail frame, I whispered to her, letting her know she was the best mom I could have asked for. I meant each word. My mom may have lost her fight but her spirit never left. It is gifted in the beautiful love she left behind. I continue drawing strength from her fierce love and in loving her, I was able to see the true face of courage.

Amanda C. - Grand Valley State University - Read Essay »

So you ask, what does it take to fight cancer? It takes the strength to tell your little sister on her 18th birthday that you will always be watching over her when you're gone. The power to tell your doctor "I'm not done fighting, so you're not done fighting. Find me another drug" when he comes in to tell you that there is nothing more they can do for you. It takes the dedication to go to class and maintain a 4.0 GPA, while you secretly hide the scars all over your body, the Ziploc bags in your purse to puke in, and even the tubing in your chest to drain the blood out of your lungs. It takes the strength, the power, and the dedication I witnessed my sister have while she battled osteosarcoma, otherwise known as bone cancer. My sister, Chelsea, was diagnosed at the age of 16 years old on October 13, 2011. She fought harder than any doctor thought possible, and she never let cancer take control of her life. She continued her education and pursed a career in nursing. At some of her weakest moments, the doctors urged her to use a doctor's note to stay home from class, and yet Chelsea refused to take the letter, as she made sure that her doctors knew she was not missing a single class. Chelsea valued her education highly, and was not about to let cancer stop her from getting it. Cancer took a lot away from my sister. It took her hair, her leg bones, her lungs, and her ability to breath easily. I wish I could say that it couldn't take away her happiness, but cancer has the power to take that as well at times. However, cancer can't take what is needed to fight. Chelsea always kept her strength, dedication, and power, with the help of her family and friends, and never gave up whom she was and what she loved to do. After years of chemotherapy treatments, surgeries, radiation, and clinical trials, my sister ended her fight on May 8, 2015, just 5 days after her 20th birthday. My little brother, mother, father, and I were all around Chelsea as we held her hand and said our last I love you. As my sister's fight came to an end, the fight against cancer has not. Through education we will not only fight cancer, but beat cancer. Chelsea and I both aspired to become nurses after watching their selfless dedication to help each of their patients fight cancer. This year, I am happy to say that I am entering my final year of nursing school, and will next year be a registered nurse. Without education, my sister's amazing medical team would not have been able to help her, and I would not have the knowledge I do today to help my future patients. In conclusion, it takes a lot to fight cancer. It takes a lot of strength, power, and dedication to fight. It takes someone like my sister to fight and maintain her dreams while doing it. It takes the perspective that cancer cannot define you. It takes family, friends, a medical team, and a community of supporters to fight cancer. So, if you have not joined the fight against cancer yet, I urge you to join the fight now.

Shyler S. - Washington State University Tri-Cities - Read Essay »

Resilient Cancer is a terrify term and threatens millions of lives every year. Hearing people who are diagnosed with cancer and the trauma they go through is nearly unspeakable. But when it happens to your own family member, your whole life changes. Since the beginning at a young age, my world altered dramatically when my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer for the first time. Being by her side and witnessing the pain, agony, and hurt she endured drenched our hearts in tears. Days were long and difficult to bear when we didn't think she could have made it. But she fought her way through it all. The second round of Breast Cancer tore down our family. Watching my mom fight for her life again made all of us have our doubts. With the medical advancements we have today, it has saved my mom's life numerous times. Not only that but she was never alone through this process. Our family was by her side the entire time and prayed for her every second of the day. She fought for her life through passion, grit, and love to make sure her family see's better days with her in it. The advancements in medical history has been astonishing. The types of surgeries now have become microscopic and scars have become smaller, therefore the healing process takes less time. Thankfully, those have saved my mom's life. Consulting different doctors has been the key point in survival. The first time she was diagnosed, she went to a world-renowned doctor "famous for his specific Breast Cancer research and recoveries" although he turned down my mom and said it was terminal. With her willingness to fight, she reached out to another doctor for a different opinion; something worthwhile to listen to. This doctor told her she had a fighting chance, but she had to give everything she had. My mom fought the first round of cancer and won. She was cancer free for six years before she was diagnosed for the second time. Again, we sought out for different opinions. The development in the Breast Cancer medical field has grown exponentially, which in turn saved my mom's life. Doctors and nurses took the time to care for her, and our family. Which in turn makes me want to assist others. I am currently studying for my B.E. in Mechanical Engineering at Washington State University and with that I would like to pursue a degree in prosthetics. Although I am not a doctor, this is a way I can use my past experience and kind heart to help others in times of need. If I can assist people in walking again, running, or lifting a hand, then that will do its purpose. Observing Doctors and Nurses personally have changed me as a person and who I want to be. Family and fight go hand in hand. They both coincide and lean on each other in times of need. Our entire family took care of one another and became closer. Many tears were shed when doubts arrived, and we were scared about certain reconstruction surgeries. With my mom's determination to watch her children grow up, she fought through every surgery. As a mother, she knew how much her family meant, and she chose to wake up every day with a positive attitude that something good will come from today. That today she is one day closer to being cancer free. My mom once told me, "I couldn't let you kids grow up without a mother in your life, and that is what made me fight. I want to show you guys to never give up and to always fight for what you want." Those words have carried with me today to make me the person I am. Many life lessons were learned - always have hope when all seems lost, never take life for granted, and to always say "I love you" whenever you get a chance because you never know when the last time will be. I have never met someone who is tougher than my mom. Being strong enough to go through it not only once, but twice within a 6-year span, is truly inspirational. She still believes in the good of the world and has the gentlest heart I know. Through the medical expansions, our family fighting with her, and her having a tough heart to see the light at the end of the tunnel; she is what it takes to fight cancer. Fighting cancer isn't only seen in a medical aspect, although very important, but it is just as much mentally. Believing in better days and fighting the cancer demon in her head is how we beat cancer. If we believe, we can achieve.

Alexandria W. - Grambling State University - Read Essay »

Alexandria Walker Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. 2018 Scholarship Application Essay "Coping" Have you ever felt so alone and lost when the person you thought would always be there for you, just up and disappeared? Just imagine losing someone you loved so deeply, forever. You'll never get the chance to see them again. I could only hope to feel his presence just one last time. "Beeeeeep" as the sound traveled through my ears, I tried to cope. Stage 4 cancer, effective immediately, my life would never be the same. My grandfather, more affectionately known as "Da" wasn't just a family member, he was also my role model. As a native of Jamaica, he was built as tough as they come. After sending his children to the U.S. for a better life, he later did the same. He and my nana moved in with my mom, my dad, and I until they could get on their feet. I had so much love and compassion for him. I can still hear him saying "Alex, whenever you need me, don't hesitate to ask." No matter where we were or what time it was, he always catered to me. I guess you could say I was a little spoiled. He took care of me like I was his own. As time passed, he grew on me the same way a branch grows on a tree. Every day when I came home from school, he would always be sitting in the same spot. That spot of his never changed. We used to talk about any and everything that came to mind. He would ask "How's school?" I would always respond "School was good." He'd even ask about "boys" from time to time and give me feedback or advice for different situations. During these talks, not once did he bring up the pain he was feeling or what he was going through. Years went by and he never spoke a word about his illness. He was always so positive and happy, so I had no idea that he was sick. It never occurred to me that he was diagnosed with colon cancer and consistently fighting it every day. We had a special bond that couldn't be broken. He made time for me when no one else would. He was very loving and caring. I had never met someone with such a big heart and kind spirit. He helped me see things from a different perspective. He repetitively stressed the importance of my education. He assisted me with my homework, kept up with my academics, and even told me stories about my ancestors and how they died fighting for our rights and making opportunities possible so that I could have a better life. My grandfather wanted me to go to college and strive for the highest level of excellence no matter what. He wanted me to do all the things he never did, but most importantly he wanted the best for me. Even though he made it seem that way, everything wasn't always a walk in the park. While fighting cancer he was also fighting for his citizenship. Not only was he going back and forth to the hospital for treatment, he was going back and forth to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Whenever he left, I never knew where he was going, and I frankly didn't care. No matter how much he would "visit" the hospital, he always came back home. My parents didn't want me to worry so they never told me what was really going on. Strong, courageous, and resilient, he kept pushing and life went on. He would make porridge for us and we would sit on the staircase right where the sunlight would beam through the front door. The porridge would taste so rich and delicious, as it melted in my mouth. He cooked very often. So often that I can still taste his flavorful Jamaican dishes now. Time went by and he started to "visit" the hospital a lot more often. I would sit alone all the time, missing him, and missing his presence. Soon, he was in the hospital every day. I didn't know what to do. I was so confused. I would go to the hospital, but they would never let me come inside of the room. I wanted to see him, no matter what condition he was in. On my last trip to the hospital, I was sitting in the waiting room. My whole family came that day, so I was curious. I sat patiently, waiting for someone to give me some answers. I wanted to know how he was doing, and I didn't want that information to be classified. Eventually, someone came out of the room and told my family that he was gone. I couldn't believe it. I was so distraught, I couldn't even move. At that moment, suddenly I realized that I had not only lost my grandfather, but I had lost my best friend.

Caroline P. - UW-Whitewater - Read Essay »

"You have cancer." These are the three words that you hope that you never have to hear and that none of your family of friends have to hear, either. Unfortunately, this is a phrase that is used too frequently in general, and especially too frequently within my immediate family. My mother and father have both been diagnosed with cancer; luckily, they both fought and beat cancer. When I was 2 years old, my mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. When I was 23 years old, my father was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Skin Cancer). When I was 27 years old, I was personally diagnosed with Melanoma (Skin Cancer). I don't remember much about my Mother's journey with cancer as I was very young, but I was much older during my Father's journey with cancer, and even though it has been several years now, it still feels like yesterday. My Father went in for surgery to remove a lump in his throat. We were told prior to the surgery that they did not believe the lump was cancerous. I remember being pulled into a small room with my Sister and Mother and being told that the lump they removed was in fact cancerous, but they wouldn't know what stage it was until further testing. I remember my Father waking up after surgery and being told that he had cancer and the tears starting to flow. Later, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The doctor's put together the most aggressive treatment plan they could including chemo and radiation, but they made it clear that if it failed, there wasn't much more they would be able to do. Luckily, my Father fought with everything he had, and eventually won his battle with cancer. My own experience with cancer was a little different. I received my original diagnosis over the phone and that I needed to come in the next morning to come up with a treatment plan. At that time, I went into shock, I had no idea what to think or do. The next morning when I met with the doctor, he repeated my diagnosis and told me that they believed the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. The staging of the Melanoma would not be known until after surgery, but he if he was right about the staging of my cancer, he said I would have a 15% chance of survival. He was telling a 27-year-old that was previously healthy that they may only have a 15% chance of survival. I was in complete shock. I could barely hold my emotions together during that meeting. I scheduled my emergency surgery. I made it to the car before the tears started. And once they started, it felt like they lasted for days. Fast forward. I had the surgery, recovered, and luckily my doctor was wrong about my diagnosis and my cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes. [Insert celebration here!] A few years later, and I still see the dermatologist every 6 months for a skin check and end up getting every "weird-looking" mole removed as it is not worth taking a chance. The waiting game from the time the mole is removed, to the phone call stating the results is typically only a few days but feels like an eternity as I am petrified to hear those three little words again. This dance is something I will have to live with the rest of my life. Through both of my parent's experience and my own experience, I have learned: "You need something or someone to fight for, a purpose. For my Mother, at the time she was diagnosed, she had 3 children under the age of 4, she didn't want her children to have to grow up without her. For my Father, at the time he was diagnosed, my Sister was pregnant with his grand-daughter, he wanted to be around to meet her and watch her grow-up. For me, I felt so young, and that I had so many things I still wanted to do and experience. On the rough days, going back and remembering what you are fighting for and your purpose, can help you continue to fight. "It's not possible to be strong all the time. It's okay to talk about your fears, but you cannot let those fears take over your life. Positivity and hope are very important for the journey. It is so easy to go to a dark place, be negative, or feel sorry for yourself. Fight those feelings! "Having cancer (or other serious health conditions) is expensive! Even with medical insurance, you are left with some pretty hefty bills. This can be very overwhelming as there is normally bills coming from multiple sources. Breathe and remember that at least you are alive! Ask for help from someone in your support system to help organize your bills. Ask the source/s to set up a payment plan. "You need a support system. I am a very independent person by nature and started off my journey trying to do it all myself and handle it all alone. I didn't want to bother anyone or interrupt their schedules. It is a long journey, lean on your those in your support system. Sometimes you may have errands that need to be done, or you may need a ride to an appointment, or you may just need to talk. They want to be there for you, let them. "Please don't go to tanning beds! Using tanning beds directly increases your chance of having skin cancer. There is no need to do something that will increase your odds!" Be nice, respectful, considerate, etc. to EVERYONE; everyone is going through something, you know nothing about. No further explanation. This one is simple. "You need to educate yourself and be part of the discussion. Don't be afraid to bring someone with you to appointments to take notes, help ask questions, or be your advocate. It seems everything happens in a whirlwind and it is important to take a step back and make sure you understand what is going on and what your options are. All too often, doctors will speak over your head and not take the time to make sure you understand. Ask the questions, make them take the time. It is important, it is your life at stake." Please use sunscreen and get a skin check! Prevention and early diagnosis are key. Luckily my diagnosis came from a post-op appointment from a non-related surgery and the surgeon happened to see a weird looking mole on my back and test it. I was 27 at the time, a skin check was not even on my radar. "Live in the moment and don't take life for granted. These days, it is so easy to live through social media and always be on your phone. By doing that, you are missing the opportunity to be "present". My diagnosis came at a time that I thought I was perfectly healthy; a life-changing event can happen to anyone, at any time; make sure you make the most of the time that you have. "Self-Care is so important and looks differently on everyone. For me, running is the best self-care I can provide myself. As a way to recover, I trained and ran my first half marathon. It was a very healing process. Long runs are great for processing. Figure out what type of Self-Care works best for you and make sure it is a part of your regular routine. What's next for me? I have wanted to go back to school to get my MBA for a number of years now; unfortunately, this has not been possible due my medical debt I occurred from my diagnosis and treatment, as well as follow-up care. Just recently, I have paid off my medical debt and am unwilling to continue to put off one of my dreams anymore; therefore, I start my MBA this Fall and couldn't be more excited!

Ashley C. - Old Dominion University - Read Essay »

What does it take to fight Cancer? My answer to this question 3 month ago would have been an interdisciplinary team of healthcare specialist that worked parallel with the patient and the patient's family to establish care goals to meet the needs, concerns, and demands of treatment to successfully fight cancer. It is so easy to write this response because it's naturally the right course of action in the fight against cancer, providing patient-centered care. However, as of May 31, 2018, I have realized and experienced that this answer is abstract and barely scratches the surface of what it takes to fight cancer. My mother, a 55 y/o female with no past medical problems and can be summarized as an energetic fireball that runs circles around the average 28 y/o, presented to the ER for evaluation of N/V and epigastric pain, with a sudden onset. The nurse in me initially attributed her symptoms to something she had eaten. The provider examined my mother and completed a detailed exam to rule out any acute-urgent processes. After receiving 2L of NS, IV antiemetic's, and IV pain medication my mother reported moderate improvement in her presenting symptoms. The provider discussed the results of work up (negative CT, normal CBC, normal CMP, normal ua) and concluding with my mother that she could be discharged and followed-up by her PCP for further evaluation deemed by her clinical improvement. The ER provider started my mother on Prilosec for any reoccurring epigastric pain and encouraged her to return for worsening or concerning symptoms. My mother returned to her natural state of health and carried out her daily routines; free of pain and free of symptoms. She met with her PCP 2 days later who referred her to the local general surgeon for further evaluation of her gallbladder. The surgeon obtained the US of her gallbladder; which was unremarkable, and insisted that she have a cholecystectomy to prevent any future episodes of pain. The date was scheduled and shortly after I found myself in the post-surgical conference room with my father waiting to hear from the surgeon, my co-worker, that the surgery went great and we could see her recovery. Unfortunately, he told me he was unable to perform the surgery but had spoken with a surgical oncologist who had provided an appointment to continue her care. This was a difficult encounter for not only myself but also my co-worker; the surgeon. It was like pulling teeth, to get a concrete answer of his suspicions of his findings. After being told several times that it looked suspicious he informed me about the possibility of gallbladder cancer. I emotionally lost it. Shortly after I recovered my mental well-being and instilled in my head that my mother was too healthy to have cancer but we would go through the motions to remove this "benign" finding and carry on with our lives. We met with the surgical oncologist who had also favored the findings of her biopsy to be negative. As required by his job, he went over the worst-case scenario, gallbladder cancer, and provided us with a plan of care that was life-altering but doable without debilitation. On March 31, 2018, the worst-case scenario operation, that would take 4 hours at max, concluded at 6 hours after the start of her surgery. The surgeon gathered my family in a conference area and informed us that she was stable and comfortable. He continued on to express that he had utilized 90 minutes of the OR time debating to perform the surgery. The biopsy was supportive of gallbladder cancer that had invaded a moderate portion of her liver. He removed her gallbladder and a little over half of her liver to increase her prognosis. He specifically told us that he felt good about the operation and his decision to peruse the operation. He remained present as my family and I cried together and provided us with positivity and realism of the journey we had officially embarked. June 2018, was spent majorly in the hospital. Being an Emergency Department nurse for 7 years and currently pursuing a master's degree to become an FNP created complexity in the family support system role and the health professional role. Through all the faults noted in mother's care, all of the expertise noted in my mother's care, and the interaction between strangers that we have encountered thus far during this journey; I've learned that it takes faith, strength, support, caring, nurturing, communication, attentive listening, and so many more things that are outside of the specialties of the specialist. As a vulnerable person, (concludes the patient, the family of the patient, and everyone in that patient's context) in a vulnerable state. Empathy is what it takes to fight cancer. Meeting the individual needs of a cancer patient by feeling what they are feeling (questions, concerns, fears, symptoms, pain). Warm Regards, Ashley Cooper.

Kathleen V. - University of New Hampshire - Read Essay »

Imagine hearing the words "You have leukemia" in the Emergency Room at Massachusetts General Hospital. I heard those words, I lived those words, I am fighting those words. I am Katie Valcich.I am 20 years old. I am a cancer fighter/warrior and soon to be a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a very rare and aggressive subtype of AML (acute myeloid leukemia). I was a sophomore studying communications at the University of New Hampshire. I had just transferred there from a smaller college where I played basketball but I was very excited to attend a bigger university. I started not feeling well during my Christmas break, coughing all the time and had recurrent infections like strep throat and sinus infections. One morning in late February, I woke up with horrific bruises all over my legs. It was so scary. From going to my primary doctor to the local hospital for immediate blood work to being rushed to the ER of Massachusetts General Hospital, my fight to get back my life began. After the diagnosis, I remember looking at my mom and dad standing over my bed with tears streaming down their faces but trying to be strong for me, and I was determined to beat this. I looked at the doctor after he informed me that I would be an inpatient for at least 30 days and said, "OK, tell me what I have to do...let's do it."Let me tell you, it wasn't easy. Fighting cancer is not easy. I was hooked up to all kinds of meds, was given arsenic infusions everyday, got debilitating headaches from my oral chemo, had no appetite, got infections but through love,support, faith, friends, family, community and my dedicated medical team I fought through. My fight is far from over. The fact that APL has evolved from one of the most fatal leukemias to one of the most treatable and curable leukemia has given me HOPE. I am currently an outpatient in consolidation undergoing 8 week cycles consisting of four weeks of arsenic infusion(M-F) and four weeks off. I am determined to go back to school this fall even if only part-time. I am also considering changing my major to Nutrition and Wellness. I would be so grateful for any scholarships to help me achieve my goal of getting a college education. My message of fighting on through a cancer diagnosis is to never give in or give up. Get your strength from your family,friends and community that are fighting and praying right along with you. Cancer has changed my life"¦.for now"¦.not forever. I have a long life to live and I intend to live it to the fullest. "Cancer might have started this fight...but I am going to finish it!"

Matthew C. - Northeastern University - Read Essay »

To fight cancer is not always to beat cancer. My paternal grandmother was diagnosed with Stage IV bone cancer about one year ago. She fought the cancer, but wistfully, she did not beat the cancer. On May 26, 2017, cancer took my grandmother's life. A fight against cancer involves an amalgamation of resources. Proper and consistent medical treatment is of paramount importance. An attendant support system will ease many of the hardships that follow a cancer diagnosis. Owning a steadfast will to live builds both motivation and physical strength. Still, under perfect conditions, life is not guaranteed. My grandmother was my family's loved matriarch. Looking back at her life, I see how, depending on the situation, she flawlessly straddled the line between severe and agreeable, responsible and carefree, and confident and skeptical. Above all other positive character attributes, however, was her selflessness. My grandmother put all of her problems aside when any one of her siblings, children, or grandchildren needed her. She was a giving soul until the day she died. Sometimes, I think about the things that I could have done differently. What if I called her twice a week instead of once a week? What if I more frequently asked her about how she was feeling? What if I spotted the cancer early? An unhealthy hypothetical, yes, but these questions highlight a few reasons why education is a necessary component in the ongoing battle against cancer. Education can ready you or a loved one for the fight against cancer. It is towards everyone's benefit to learn the risk factors and signs of the disease. Practicing health-related vigilance can, quite literally, save a life. Along these same lines, learning and teaching others about preventative behaviors can help someone avoid a cancer diagnosis altogether. Something as quick and painless as applying sunscreen regularly can significantly decrease the chances that one gets skin cancer. Generally, this is well known, but it makes me think: What other steps can I take to help prevent a future cancer diagnosis for others and myself? Education will lead me to that answer. My grandmother's story illuminates another important aspect of education in the fight against cancer. My grandmother was not just selfless within the bounds of my family. It is no sheer coincidence that she worked as a nurse for the majority of her adult life. Day after day she provided her patients with healing, care, and love. Here, the power of education shines again. No one is better suited to fight cancer than health professionals. As a society, we must continue to inspire, teach, and train the future generations of doctors, nurses, therapists, and so on. Fighting cancer is no fight at all without these individuals. Important too are the researchers working behind the scenes. To combat cancer is to continually create new drugs, therapies, and methods to give health professionals options in providing care. Education's value cannot be understated. Again: To fight cancer is not always to beat cancer. But what if it was? Imagine the world where a cancer diagnosis is not a fifty-fifty death sentence. Through education, this is an attainable utopia. I understand that my grandmother cannot be brought back from the grave. But knowing her, she would be ecstatic with the news that hundreds of thousands of millions of other cancer patients' lives will be saved. Let us make fighting cancer and beating cancer one in the same.

Tony E. - Penn State Law - Read Essay »

Education is important in fighting cancer for many reasons. Education affords you the opportunity to have a good job that provides good health insurance to fight cancer. Education affords you the knowledge to get screened for cancers at certain life mile markers. Education is what will lead to a cure for cancer. Lastly, education affords you the knowledge to pass on to others about cancer treatment and cancer prevention. Fighting cancer takes a level of strength and courage I had never witnessed before. My step-mother was diagnosed with cancer about 3 years ago. My father and step-mother chose to fight the battle alone and not tell the family about the diagnosis or the treatments. My step-mother underwent several surgeries during the three year time frame and I was stationed in the military during the first two years. I would talk to them on the phone and laugh and joke, all the while having no idea of the pain they were both going through. During the final year of my step-mother's life I came to visit and my step-mother had lost a noticeable amount of weight. I asked my father in private what was going on and he finally told me that she had cancer. It seems as though almost every phone call home from that point on was conducted while they were inside of a hospital. She was scheduled to undergo another surgery last fall, but it was eventually cancelled. The doctors had determined that she had too many surgeries and should just continue Chemo and see how her body responds. During my second semester of 1L year my step-mother was finally diagnosed with terminal cancer and went to in-home hospice. During the last week of the semester I missed my classes and left law school. I drove 14 hours home to Memphis, Tennessee to be with my father. I watched my step-mother take her last breath in our home and held my father as he openly grieved the loss of his wife. I had never seen a person with cancer before. Her body was ravished and she could not speak. She could only lay and look straight ahead. In her final days, as her body was shutting down, she did not blink for 3 days straight. It was so heartbreaking sitting by her bedside holding her hand and watching her fade away. She had lost so much weight that she was almost unrecognizable. I had never seen a person die in front of me until my step-mother's death. My father and I were sitting on the couch talking at approximately 9:50 p.m. and her "hospital" bed was in the living room right beside us. She hadn't moved in a day or so. Then suddenly she arched her body upward. My dad knew instantly it was time. He began to call out to her. He was pushing the morphine button on the side of the bed to give her comfort and relive any pain she may be in. He was holding her and I was holding him. He talked to her and told her she was loved and her family was all here. It was only me and him in the room, but I think he wanted to put her mind at rest. Then she began to blink rapidly (or maybe it was simply her muscles beginning to spasm as her body shut down). She hadn't blinked in days and I knew then what my dad knew. This was the end. People usually describe someone dying as "passing away". I always thought it would be a quiet, and peaceful leaving of the body. It was the opposite for my experience. It was loud. My father was trying to communicate and hold her and fight back his emotion. Throughout her time in hospice my father had a radio by the bed playing music from the local radio station. And I will never forget, for as long as I live, the song that was playing when my step-mother started to breathe heavy and was in her final moments. As she breathed her final breaths everything moved in slow motion and "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas was playing on the radio. It was so surreal and a bit of cruel irony that as my step-mother lie dying, the radio was saying "I gotta feeling, that tonight's going to be a good night. That tonight's gonna be a good, good night." Through my father coaching her into death, her heavy gasps for breath, and the Black Eyed Peas song in the background, it was loud and violent. I will never forget that. A few moments passed and my father sat back against his chair and then she gave a slight puff. My father sat up straight away, thinking there may still be life. I checked her pulse and told him she was gone. He sat back again and stared straight ahead. He then had to call the hospice nurse. The nurse came to the house and officially pronounced my step-mother dead. The funeral home came and took away the body. After everything settled down my father and I fell asleep on the couch. The next day my father, grandmother, and I went to the funeral home to begin making arrangements. I sat in the funeral director's office with my father as he picked out an urn, delivered her clothes (for the viewing), and selected all the services that go along with death. I stayed in Memphis a few days helping my father pack up her things (her will had designated who to give things to), break down the hospital bed, and stay for support. After this great loss to our family I had to drive 14 hours back to Penn State Law and mentally prepare for finals. Challenges are an inevitable part of life, but the military and my life experiences have taught me that when challenges come you have to overcome them because it is unacceptable to let your team or yourself down. I have never actually processed what happened or let alone typed it or told anyone. This essay was honestly probably more therapeutic than anything. My father stuck by his wife's side for years while she went through surgeries, therapies, and unbelievable pain. All the while they both smiled and went on with life as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I last spoke to my step-mother in February of this year. I called my dad and they were in the hospital again. My step-mother asked to speak to me and we talked briefly...maybe five minutes total. She sounded so happy and normal. I told her that she needed to hurry up and get well so they could go on vacation. I told her that I would be a lawyer and I would pay for their vacation, but first she had to get well. She laughed and said that's a deal. I told her, the one caveat is thta it would have to be a small vacation, maybe a Carnival cruise or something, and not the expensive Sandals resort vacations they had grown accustomed to taking. She laughed again and said it's good I told her because she was just about to book the expensive trip. I didn't know that would be our last time ever talking, but I think she did. By the time I reached her in hospice she couldn't communicate anymore. All I could do was hold her hand and talk to her. My step-mother died of intestinal cancer on April 5th 2018 after a three year battle.

Cassaundra W. - Chamberlain College Of Nursing - Read Essay »

I'd like to start off by saying thank you for allowing me to present why I should be chosen to be scholarship recipient. I am sure all candidates are worthy of this scholarship and determining which is hard to do. I know that nothing in life is given to you for free and can understand that. With life comes hard work and dedication to what makes you breath every day. That dedication that you put into the being of what makes you brings you to where I am today, and I'd like to explain why I can be a worthy candidate to choose for the upcoming year. I'd say I kind of grew up living a normal life, given the hurdles that were thrown at me. Hurdles like divorced parents, split home, deciding to be out on my own and even losing a parent to cancer. There's one thing that I can always remember through all these hurdles and obstacles, that I worked my butt off to get to the next level in my life. I worked so hard because I always knew I wanted to be a step higher that next year in my life. I always knew I wanted to be a nurse, but it was always on the backburner due to me deciding I wanted to "˜on my own' and "˜be an adult'. Which was one of the dumbest decisions I've ever made in my life. But one day my mom told me she had cancer. Oblivious to the reality of cancer, I said I'd become a nurse, so I can take care of her. I am now an LPN, but it was too late"¦ I officially became an LPN after she passed. I decided to care for others as if they were my very own mother with the time and nursing that they deserve. I am now enrolled in a RN, BSN program set to graduate in 2019 while working full-time as an LPN. I've gone from barely making it on my own to the first college graduate out of my parent's children, all while working and paying for it on my own. I would make a reasonable scholarship recipient because I am taking my hurdles and running. With this assistance, I'll be able to have peace of mind to focus on the care I intend on continuing to give to my patients. With life comes choices and I know I made some relatively dumb ones. But I've made some good ones getting me to where I am today. Today, I need assistance with my the last few months of school that I am ultimately about to begin paying completely out of pocket. With this scholarship, I'll be able to balance my work to school ratio. This balance will include obtaining sufficient and efficient knowledge with critical thinking skills to successfully give competent and effective care to those in need of my time and services. This knowledge will allow me to care for those as I feel they should be cared. Thank you for your time and consideration, Cassaundra Watson.

Kenni T. - DePaul University - Read Essay »

"Will you carry me?" My sister asked as her feeble hand reached out to me. She wanted to go up the stairs, but having just come back from a spinal tap, she was unable to make it up the stairs on her own. She wanted to go to her own room and feel the comfort o being surrounded by her own items. I slowly reached for her hand and took it in mine as I guided her onto my back. Her thin body felt like a sack of feathers on my back and I could feel her hip bones pressing into my waistline. She started to breath deeper as she struggled to hold on. I had only made two steps up the stairs when I began to feel her breath settling on my back. I knew she was tired, but I wanted to take my time climbing us, as to not hurt us both by some sort of fall. I quickly felt like I was in over my head. But I told her I could do it and so I was determined to make it happen. *** During my time in 7th grade, I came home to an empty house almost every day. My sister had gone to the hospital for routine blood work and had not returned in weeks. My parents split into shirts: my mother at the hospital 24/7 while my dad worked during the day, cooked dinner for myself, and made trips to and from the hospital (which was an hour and a half away, each way.) I was told that my sister was "sick in the hospital." One afternoon, after I had gathered all the items requested from my mother and my sister, right before we left for the hospital, my dad said, "the doctors say your sister might have cancer." I silently nodded and followed my dad out the garage door. He stopped and turned to me and said "But don't tell your sister you know. You have a very important job now, you have to act like the older sister and take after her. Can you do that?" *** We finally reached the top of the stairs and I slowly let her climb off my back. As I put her arm over my shoulder to help her to her room, I realized how much she has changed. Her body was now skin, and bones and her face started to take the shape of the skull under it. Internally, I was devastated, but I had an important job: To reminded her of happiness. After that moment, I decided to stop treating her like she couldn't and to use the power of "can." If she wanted to walk outside she had to get up out of bed herself, she had to push the IV pole, and she had to try. I noticed that it was important to her that I didn't treat her any different than someone else her age. I told her jokes, I got us in trouble with our hospital antics, and I reminded her that she was strong and that she could fight this. Fast forward a few years and my sister had beat cancer. For me, it took the constant reminder that things will change and that you will get better. In her words, beating cancer took the knowledge and reminder that "being healthy is just over the horizon." Two years had passed, and now my mother was now being treated for a cancer-like illness. My mother never quite told me what she was going through because she's a very private person, but she was treated with chemo and spent hours in the oncology ward. Her hair fell out, she lost weight, and she began to stay at home more often. Cancer was attacking my mother just like it had my sister. I had learned from previous years that my role was to remind them of life and that happiness is possible. I left for college and my mother's conditions worsened. I posed questions about her health but was told that she was doing just fine. Good news came in 2017 when my mother finally stated that she would no longer need to be having weekly visits to the hospital. A true smile blossomed on her face, she said "I knew I could beat it. I knew I was going to be there for my children." My sister and I are both first-generation college students. From a young age, we knew that graduating with a four-year-degree was the only option. If I get my Master's, I will be the first and only person in my family to have a Master's Degree. Post-secondary education will provide me with the tools to better discuss the effects of cancer and find ways to contribute to the cure. Whatever academic hardships I may face, I have that the people in my family are strong, and cancer has taught me that I will continue to push through the worst because I know good will come.

Cynthia S. - Sacred Heart University - Read Essay »

It's always going to rock your world. You don't expect it, whether you're a vegan yoga instructor or a pack-a-day smoker, farmer, and rodeo rider. My grandpa - the big, tough, leather-skinned, quintessential portrayal of American grit was the latter, and even though he always had a pack of Marlboro reds in his pocket, his diagnosis in 2002 was a surprise. It was not an easy pill to swallow. He had oral cancer - nothing was really all that easy to swallow. It affected his tongue specifically. The mass grew very large. He lost his ability to speak. Sleeping was rough too; he was afraid that the mass would block his airway and he would suffocate in the middle of the night. He had six children who suffered through it with him. But even when his suffering finally ended, the suffering of his family continued on. He died at 56 years old. He should have had decades left to spend with us, but it was cut short. He wasn't able to see my twin cousins born after their mother struggled with infertility for years. He didn't get the chance to see his three youngest get married. He never met my children - his first great grandchildren. I know my son would have been fascinated by him. A real live bronco rider and calf-roper. You don't see those much anymore. There was no fighting this cancer. His decline was rapid and the end came rather quickly. In our case it wasn't the cancer that we had to fight, it was ourselves. During his illness, all the family skeletons came flying out of the closet. They landed in a big messy heap at center stage and could not be swept under the rug. Sides were taken, words exchanged, hearts broken, and at the center of it all was a dying man. Our family changed permanently during that time, and to this day, sixteen years later, there is still an entire group of people alienated from the rest. I was 13 when he died, and am 29 now. The lessons that I learned from that awful experience stayed with me. Sometimes you don't get closure. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes you feel like your entire world is crumbling apart and there's not a single thing that can be done to change even one aspect of the situation. But at the same time, I learned that awful events bring about the potential for amazing personal growth. While some people grew apart, others grew closer. I witnessed selfless giving, heart-wrenching expressions of care and concern and comfort, and immutable love and compassion. I even witnessed forgiveness, which was quite possibly the most beautiful aspect of this ugly situation. Of all the fights I've witnessed in my life; the fight against cancer, the fight against infertility, the fights against mental illness and anger, et cetera"¦the hardest has always been the fight to forgive. In a sense it's a fight against the self - you are too proud, too righteous, too offended to forgive the person who slighted you. But the reward for doing so is more precious than life itself. I think my grandpa learned that before he died. He was forgiven by many for past misdeeds, and I think he may have even forgiven himself. He died at home surrounded by people who loved him. Some people were unable to forgive. Those are the ones whose lives are still darkened by this event almost twenty years later. They suffer still, even though my grandpa's suffering ended. But those like my mom and my grandma, who were able to find the strength needed to let go, have flourished. Mercy was granted to my grandpa in death - he didn't have to struggle any longer and his family forgave him for choices he had made. In this case my grandpa's cancer won the fight. But that doesn't mean we lost.

Laveet A. - Thomas Jefferson University - Read Essay »

To fight cancer a person has to be willing to accept new conditions, change behaviors when they recieve integrative education about best practices, and stand on an unwavering belief system that they will make it. My first experience with cancer started when my first cousin passed away from metastatic bone cancer. Later, I decided to work with oncologists and met people from all different walks of life who were affected by cancer. I met cancer free patients coming in for follow ups, patients who had done well on research products ad conventional treatment, patients who were just diagnosed and figuring out their options, and patients nearing death and on their way to hospice. .I learned from cancer that each experience is unique and an optimal fight requires a well trained team of professionals who are willing to collaborate and keep care personal and well-integrated so the patient and their loved ones feel like they are part of a team that can provide resources for coping when difficulties arise. Cancer taught me that challenges are both physical and mental in nature and both need to be asked about and addressed. When health is questioned by cancer an attitude of gratitude for life keeps people in high spirits and pushes them to keep going. Cancer transforms everyone involved and pushes people to keep hope for brighter days in their pocket at all times. Cancer is the determination to live through a miserable condition and figure things out as they come along. It changes people and is the rude awakening from the lull of everyday life that no one wants yet those who are cancer free say they needed to really understand what was important in their lives. Of course a team cannot fight without complete knowledge of the condition at hand. Integrative education is important because a portion of care takes place outside of the clinic and at home which means patients and their loved ones are responsible for administering care. Patients need to be given a comprehensive overview of medications and any concerning symptoms that might arise while getting treatment. Reporting concerning symptoms can be the difference between life and death for patients and it is important that everyone understands what calls for emergency attention. The team needs to address financial difficulties and manage the challenges that come with paying for expensive treatment. Patients need to know what nutritional and exercise programs to follow while they get treatment and they need to do their best to stay on track. Most importantly, patients need education on the mental illnesses that arise when cancer is in the picture. Many patients develop anxiety and depression while they learn their new normal and especially when they can't keep up with their original routine. It is so important for people with cancer to have access to a professional or support group that allows them to open up about experiences that make them feel vulnerable such as hair loss, surgical scars, or extreme weight loss. Everyone gets caught up in getting rid of the cancerous tumor and they forget all of the co-illnesses that arise from the original culprit and need attention! The team that is going to fight cancer needs a comprehensive picture of everything that is going on so they can meet the patient's needs and increase a patient's chance of living a cancer free life.

Zakir M. - Harvard University - Read Essay »

My name is Zakir Matin. I am a combat veteran and a striving researcher. I realized I wanted to focus in the field of science when I watched my grandfather die from cancer. Every moment and everyday, I watched as his health deteriorated. I never imagined a day where I would watch him pass away but I also never imagine how his struggle would put me on a path to fight cancer. After my first tour in Afghanistan, I came home to find my grandfather suffering from kidney cancer. I saw the man that raised me in tears from the pain of this horrible disease. I spent the last of his days with him while I began to research aggressively. I analyzed his symptoms; I read over one hundred medical research papers and watched almost 200 documentaries of all the cancer-causing agents from genetics on a cellular level to theoretical environmental causations. Though there are many treatments out there for many types of cancers, there is no permanent solution. Many times, cancers tend to come back after some time due to cancer cells that spread to other organs which go unnoticed. Other times it is due to genetic faults descended from previous generations now embedded within the DNA. It is the genetic factor that is currently being researched in many institutions. I believe gene-editing is an answer to cancer. Recent practices indicate that gene-editing can cure people of cancer. Such as the case in London of a child named Layla who was born with cancer. After the failure of traditional treatments, doctors used a method called TALENs, it refers to proteins that can be used to make cuts in DNA. By programming the TALENs, researchers can use it to remove faulty DNA. Once the procedure was done, there were no traces of cancer cells and the child was in complete remission. Another case in China tells of a 53-year-old man named Shaorong Deng who had advanced cancer of the esophagus. After radiation and chemotherapy, cancer kept spreading. The doctors then suggested an experimental treatment of gene-editing using a method called CRISPR. After his first treatment, Mr. Deng reported having been feeling a lot better. He continued on with a second treatment and continuous treatment which has shown great improvements in his health overall. There are multiple methods of gene-editing which require continued exploration. It is a great method of treatment that has unlimited potential. There is much we do not know about the human body but with these methods, we may be able to unravel many mysteries of cancer and its long history with humans. With the dedication to this scientific field, we have the ability to dissect microorganisms and the DNA cancer causing structure. If your asking me what does it takes to fight cancer, well it has been presented to us. We have made our first step into the arena on a genetic level. That is where we must continue our journey to find answers and solutions. That is where we grasp the creation of all genetic and health disorders. I believe if we remain on this path, we may someday live in a world without cancer.

Hillary M. - Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences - Read Essay »

Being diagnosed with cancer is unimaginable and will change your life forever. There's no doubt about that. You will fear for your life for quite a while, but once that fear settles, you will begin to live life like there's no tomorrow. I know that seems like that day will never come but it will, I promise. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 26, while I was attending Albany College of Pharmacy as a full-time student. I also watched my mother and aunt fight breast cancer years ago, so I knew the struggle I was about to go through. I was diagnosed on May 9, 2017 while I was taking my final exams for that semester. I was also starting my hospital pharmacy rotation on May 15, just a week later. When I was first diagnosed, I threw myself into countless hour of research trying to answer questions like did I do this to myself or why is this happening to me, and from those endless hours, I found nothing. I still wonder the answers to these questions, but I have come to the realization that I will never get the answers and I'm ok with that. It takes a very strong and brave person to overcome cancer and win and I am very happy to say that both me, my mother, and my aunt are breast cancer survivors. We have a bond that will last a life time not only because we're family, but because we went through something tragic and came out on top and are all currently healthy. I have been positive throughout my entire diagnosis and every time I see my doctor's they are awed at how positive I am. I couldn't have done it without the support from each member of my family. Throughout each of the tragedies my family has gone through, we've grown closer. Each of these disasters has provided my family with a new strength and has taught us important coping and grieving mechanisms that many people aren't given. You aren't taught how to handle death in school and only learn by experience, which is terrifying. Death and tragedy has a funny way of bringing people together. The people who love and care about you the most stand out and come forward in times of need, and the ones who don't tend to fall out of one's life. My family and I have stuck together since our first battle with cancer and haven't given up since. We will continue to fight together as a family with whatever life brings us. I now have a new perspective on life and love every second of it. Since my diagnosis I have completed the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge which includes a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon all within 4 days. I have entered my last year of college earning my Doctorate of Pharmacy and am thriving. I have planned rotations around the United States to practice pharmacy and help those I can for the time I am there. I live every day like it is my last and don't let anything bother me or stress me out and plan to keep on living this way.

Kayla R. - St Clair Community college - Read Essay »

Cancer. A disease I always had a ominous feeling about. What did it look like? How do you feel? Was it a death sentence? I began to know the answers to these questions first hand. I never knew how strong I was until being strong was my only choice. Physical strength was always something I was blessed with. Being a woman, a mother, a nurse the world weighs on your shoulders daily. As if being a woman isn't hard enough. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks to the face, "You have thyroid cancer." This was just one more obstacle I had to add to my plate. I was scared, nervous, and anxious. Everyday I opened my eyes I would ask myself, Am I going to be here to watch my boys go to college, get married, have children? Was this really happening to me? Perhaps I possessed a certain degree of knowledge that led me to think that I was untouchable, that this disease would not be able to touch me because I treated people daily with this disease not be treated myself for it. Maybe because I've worked in the medical field for so long, such occurrences had become ordinary. The fight was beginning and I was not ready. Some days I didn't want to get out of bed. No amount of heartbreak or physical pain could compare to what I felt upon learning that I was following right in my mother's footsteps. Just 19 years ago she was diagnosed with a similar cancer. History was repeating itself. I truly think any woman who battles cancer feels a little betrayed. You're suppose to be the rock of your family, the foundation of life, and woman who works hard to make sure their children are equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities to make it as a competent human. You see, when a member of the family gets cancer, it's like everyone has the disease, because it is so crippling. It changes family dynamics. You are forced to learn new ways of living to accommodate the change. It's exhausting. The surgery took place the end of March. The only words I remember briefly after waking up was, "the cancer is all gone." I felt as if the bricks that had hit me in the beginning were lifted. I felt myself, beautiful, and free. After the storm, you begin to search for the rainbow. You realize that having support is a big step towards recovery and that every story of survival serves as hope. You realize that having cancer is not a death sentence. In the realm of possibility, anything can happen, but it is the perception that makes a difference. I refuse to let this disease dictate the way I live my life. Cancer is a learning experience, and it taught me to appreciate life. It led me to an understanding that this word we fear, cancer, or "the big C," can be overcome by an even bigger "C": courage. Once you choose hope, anything's possible.

Cameron M. - Florida State University - Read Essay »

What it takes to fight cancer? Cancer can certainly be a debilitating disease that restricts patients from carrying our their daily lives in harmony, or, it can be a fresh start and motivational tool, acting as a catalyst for patients to delve into their deepest desires to fulfill eternal happiness. As the son of a cancer survivor (Mom), and the grandson (grandfather) of a cancer victim, I have seen first-hand the way in which this terrible diagnosis instills a sense of fight and resolute determination among immediate family members. At the age of 18, I lost my grandpa to lung cancer. He was a World War II veteran, who fought the disease for almost 2.5 years prior to succumbing to his ailment, resulting from years of smoking born out of the military. This was my first interaction with the disease, and it hurt deeply. I grew up in a single-parent household with my mother, and my grandpa was the father figure in my life from a young age. Up until his passing, he displayed great courage, resilience and strength to fight the disease, maintaining a constant focus on family values that continues to resonate within our family structure more than 20 years later. As his condition worsened, I recall sitting for hours at his bedside in hospice, telling stories, recalling life events and updating each other on the latest golf technology and swing strategies to play well. Somehow, time had no meaning during this period, there were no minutes, hours or days, it was as if it did not exist at all. The focus was on comfort, support and maintaining an optimistic and buoyant approach to what would be an inevitable fate. Ironically, in 2012, my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing both radiation therapy and chemotherapy simultaneously to treat her condition. Somehow, a sense of déjà vu overcame me upon being notified of her condition by phone more than half a world away. As she resides in Australia and I am now residing in the US, her ability to communicate with our family was limited during this time, therefore we travelled regularly back to Adelaide to provide support and comfort in her time of need. I recall the benefit of face-to-face discussion that had occurred with my grandpa, and knew this interaction was critical for the fight ahead. We regularly travelled with our children (2&6) during this time to encourage her fight, using the family unit and strength to support her in her fight against cancer. Although she was weakened after each fortnightly "treatment", her enduring strength and commitment to beat the disease was replenished open each visit from her "US family". We continued to set our next date for return during our visits, re-establishing goals of being able to see her grandchildren "the next time". After more than 12 months of ongoing treatment (2 phases), she was declared with a cancer-free prognosis. She continues to "live each day like it is her last", visiting the US twice a year to maintain a strong bond with myself and her grandchildren, venturing to places that were always a "dream" in her younger years, and maintaining a financial commitment to the medical and social support organizations that provided her with a new lease on life. Unfortunately and fortunately, I have been on both sides of the proverbial cancer "equation". These life and death experiences have not only shaped who I am as a person, but have also established strong family values of support throughout our entire family. Although we have endured incredible loss, and attained great success over the condition, the one aspect that has remained constant is our commitment as a family unit to support each other during moments of hardship. Cancer is not an individualized condition, it has long-lasting affects on families, loved-ones and friends, all to varying degrees. The successful fight against cancer I believe is based on two separate fronts, one being the inevitable medical treatment, and the other being the support network that is offered by those closest to the patient. Ultimately, no-one is immune to disease, however, in times of need, our family can be assured that we will literally move heaven and earth to support each other, regardless of location, expense or pre-existing commitments that occur in daily life. Our values are firmly entrenched in a "family is everything" philosophy, and we are fortunate to have been able to see the successful results of this commitment over recent years.

Melanie D. - Campbellsville University - Read Essay »

My first experience with "Cancer" first occurred in 1982 at the age of eight. My beloved, grandmother had such a colorful and outgoing personality. As a child, I never thought anything would ever harm me or my family. The eyes of a child rarely can see just how bad a cancer diagnosis can be. I, unfortunately, saw it first-hand. My grandmother worked in a yarn factory for many years, never smoked, and took care of herself. I remember going to the hospital with my grandparents. My grandmother would be very talkative on the ride to the hospital and quite on the ride home. Although at the time I couldn't' comprehend everything that was happening until she was finally home and someone called a "hospice nurse" began visiting. I followed my mother everywhere and was referred to as "mommy's little helper". I remember school was out because of the snow and my mother needed to tend to my younger brother and sister. My grandfather was upset because the road conditions were too dangerous for the hospice nurse to visit. My mother asked me to sit with my grandmother for a short while. I did so, watching her breathe slowly and holding her hand. I was waiting for her to wake up and tell me what she needed. I wanted desperately to do something so I could show my grandfather and mother I could be a good nurse. My grandmother slowly opened her eyes and smiled at me. I whispered to her that I was taking care of her. She continued to sleep and soon my mother returned to my side. I was very happy to tell her she smiled at me and I told her I was taking care of her. Within only minutes of my mother returning and my grandfather holding her hand, I watched in complete disbelief, my grandmother's face changed. She suddenly looked peaceful, happy, as though she was all better and ready to get up. This was not the case. My mother and grandfather began to sob loudly. My mother held on to me as though she would squeeze the breath from me. I too began to cry, still not realizing what had just happened. My grandfather then fell to his knees and I ran to him, seeking answers for what was happening. I remember yelling over and over why isn't she getting up. My mother soon picked me up and wiped my face telling me everything is going to be fine. She told me my grandmother was very tired and couldn't stay with us. She explained God had healed her and she was with him now. I was raised in a loving, Christian home. I had sung songs about heaven and knew people had to go there eventually and it wasn't something to fear or be sad about. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast, lung and brain cancer in 1982. She fought against cancer a very long time. She kept her faith in God throughout the journey and I am blessed to know when the doctors could no longer make her well, God did. This experience would come to my mind over the years many times. In 2011, I received the devastating news my grandmother has received all those years ago. My husband and I had tried several years to have children. In March 2011, the last thing I would have expected to hear was, "I'm sorry, you have cancer and will need surgery as soon as possible." Would I pass away just as my grandmother did? I broke the horrible news to my mother, remembering everything about that winter day when my grandmother passed away. The reaction from my mother was not what I expected. Her response was, "don't let cancer win!". She encouraged me to "fight". Although at the time I really didn't know how. How do you fight something happening within your body? How do you say, "go away cancer"? I soon learned, Faith and the absolute will to live, can make a world of difference. My mother talked to me about how hard my grandmother fought. She explained the medical field has learned so much about this disease and advances in methods to promote the quality of life of those affected by cancer. I have now been cancer-free seven years. I am grateful to my family for their prayers, love, support, and encouragement. Keeping a positive mindset, asking questions, and having a strong will are all very important when facing cancer.

Lauren R. - Belmont University - Read Essay »

What it takes to fight cancer - Lauren Rugless My best friend has a pilocytic astrocytoma brain tumor. Since the diagnosis, I have seen my friend express many emotions. We talked about her anxieties ranging from choosing the right treatment to deciding to finish school. I have had the opportunity to see my friend persevere trough two brain surgeries, family crisis, financial hardships and to top it all off completing her doctorate. My friend is well aware of the odds that are against her. The tumor shrinks, doubles in size and then shrinks again. It causes her to have headaches at inopportune times. But, she continues to move forward. As I reflect on the factors that have contributed to her fight against cancer. I can identify three areas that have helped her tremendously. Those factors are her faith, family and focus. My friend depended on her faith in God to get her through the darkest period of her illness. When the information highway was full and all of her friends and family tried to provide advice on treatments, she shut them all out. Processing the results of the diagnosis combined with managing her emotions proved to be overwhelming. She had to pull away from everyone in order hear the right voice and make the right choices. When she read discouraging articles regarding her tumor she had to control her thoughts and choose to shun fear and lean on her faith for guidance and safety. My friend is the daughter of a pastor. Her father's role as a pastor became a source of strength in her personal life. Whenever she was afraid she would call her dad to seek counsel. She has an awesome team on her side including her mom and siblings. Her brother is a personal trainer who helped her to make changes in her diet and created a fitness plan for her. I believe that the changes she made to her diet and exercise greatly improved her outcome. Her fitness regime also help her from becoming deeply depressed. The bond that she has with her family is strong, but she maintained some separation from them to concentrate on healing her body and functioning through her own health crisis. My best friend's faith and her family relationships help her to maintain focus on what is important. Her family constantly reminds her of her current goals, which is maintain her health and getting to graduation. As a doctoral student she could have easily given up or taken a break from school and work. Taking time off is what is expected of someone with a life threatening disease. But, my friend has a goal to finish what she started. I witness her reach deadlines and carry a tremendous work load that would cause a younger person to shut down. She is focused on shrinking her tumor and continuing on the path she set before the diagnosis. I am so proud of my best friend. I believe that my mother, who died from a glioblastoma 5 years ago would have been proud of her as well. I know everyone's battle with cancer is different. Some people live long lives, while others die young. I have learned to fight though my struggles while I am well. When a task seem insurmountable I am motivated by the life of my mom and my best friend. There are also other women who need to hear the stories of people who have taken the journey of cancer. Educating regular people of all ages on cancer prevention is going to take more effort than ever before. Empowering adults to become involved in preventing cancerous toxins from getting into our food, water and air supply can decrease their ability to claim more lives. This is why I want to go to nursing school. My goal after school will be to help my patients to see that disease in one area of the body like an infected tooth can link to a host of other issues elsewhere in the body. I believe that exercise will be a key platform for my patients to prevent diseases and live a life free from the effects of stress and depression on the body. I look forward to representing the Environmental Litigation Group P.C to help in the fight against cancer in the future.

Tyler D. - State College Of Florida - Read Essay »

Since I was 18 and stepped my feet into the shallow end of the medical profession as a CNA I simply fell in love with doing what little I could then to see my patients happy and getting better and ready to leave. To hear how they almost, almost, wish they didn't have to go home because in what small capacity I could, I cared for them to the best of my abilities. Since that day, almost 8 years ago now, my knowledge and ability to provide has grown, but I'm nowhere near my goals yet. I've struggled my own ways and caring for others has helped keep me grounded and humble and has definitely aided me to grow closer, and my desire stronger to be an advocate, and knowledgeable healthcare professional. My name is Tyler Dietzway and I am pursuing a career in the medical field; more directly as a Registered Nurse due greatly to my will, desire, and capacity to care for and provide for people when they are their weakest, lowest points in life and hope even in some minute way that I may help them even temporarily forget their ailments, or feel more empowered to help their medical team fix what ails them so they may carry on their journey of life. I was surrounded by strong women for my entire upbringing, my mother for sure, and one of the most influential women in my life, my grandmother Carol. She was perhaps the greatest woman I will ever know. She was a nurse in the old sense of the words where she'd challenge her doctors but not to the point of disrespect, in order to get the absolute greatest care taken of her patients when she could. She was loved by those she cared for and it was evident even in the last years of her life. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer and given her time to make peace with her loved ones and her life she did so with grace and a smile knowing the lives she touched meant she was placed on this Earth, by her belief, to do something greater than herself and that she had fulfilled her duty. I never knew her when she was a nurse but the cards and flowers she received at the end of her life, the crying faces and stories from strangers about how she touched them, some from decades prior made me happy to be in a room of people that even though I'd never met them I could feel connected to in some way. That's who I want to be. She lived in a different age where as a woman it was difficult to move up, progress, and make change but she did all she could every day and it shows as echoes of her presence in the lives of those she cared for, her children, and I, her only grandchild. I want to follow in her footsteps and become a caring, compassionate nurse, and to respectfully support my patient's desires and beliefs, even if they do not line up with my own. We all walk this Earth troubled by one thing or the next; and I want to be even a small part in the force that lets people get back to the those they love when they're too weak or sick to believe in themselves. Ultimately my goal is to be a provider, or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, and do far far more than I would be able to with just this RN degree I'm pursuing currently but I feel it necessary to spend some years at the patients bedside, in the grit, feeling what they feel (or trying to) and emotionally connecting with these people that choose to trust me with their care. In doing so it is my desire not to lose touch with the human side of medicine; that my investment of time, money, and heart is met with great outcomes from the input of all involved. Caring for my work displaced mother, a survivor of a forceful aggravated assault about 5 years ago, and helping her look after my fully disabled step father, a veteran of more than 30 years puts a strain on my time, and income but I wouldn't change a thing about them and what they'd been able to provide for me to give me a better life than they had growing up. Financially, emotionally, and in many more ways the road will be difficult but nothing good in life comes at little cost and I'm prepared to make sacrifices where needed to achieve my goals, and make my mark in this world.

Cameron S. - Coastal Carolina, SC - Read Essay »

Addison's Story By: Cameron Spohrer "‹Addison Stitt was one of a kind. Addison Stitt was the name of my loved one who's life was cut short due to an ugly disease known as Mesothelioma. In his early years he was a star football and baseball player for his High School in Kearney, New Jersey. He then went on to play baseball for Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee. Shortly after college he met my grandmother Nancy at his summer house down the jersey shore. There is a saying out there that says "never fall in love at the jersey shore" but my grandfather saw right around that. He was crazy about my grandmother from the moment he met her, and would give his life if that meant she would continue on. Addison and Nancy were married for 54 years and had 3 children together who they loved very much. In his years after college, Addison devoted 20 years of his life to the Howell Baseball Little League Association where he coached and mentored children. He was also chairman of the Tappi Association during his time in the printing and paper industry in sales. Not only was he a wonderful husband, father, coach and business man, he was a die hard Frank Sinatra fan. Every time I would visit my grandfather there would always be Frank Sinatra playing in the background. My grandfather was not only a die hard Sinatra fan, but also a die hard Nascar fan. Addison loved watching his favorite racer Jimmy Johnson. Addison Stitt was one of the 2500 people who have lost their lives this year due to Mesothelioma. This is his story. "Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. It affects the mesothelium of the lung (pleural), heart (pericardial), or abdomen (peritoneal)" (Godfrey 1). In the United States there are two to three thousand people diagnosed with Mesothelioma per year. Symptoms of this nasty disease will not be seen until 20-40 years after the exposure to asbestos. The scary part is that from the year 1999 to 2015 there has been 45,000 deaths due to Mesothelioma. That is 45,000 loved ones taken from families without much closure. "Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral used in various products because of its resistance to heat, fire, and chemicals. The most common way that people are exposed to asbestos is by occupational exposure" (Godfrey 1). Companies hid the side effects from asbestos until the 1980's so no one really knew the dangers of asbestos until it was already too late. Asbestos was big in factories and construction work. My grandfather was exposed to asbestos from his work as an auto mechanic back in the 50s and 60s and was a weekend warrior over a span of 55 years ,working on anyone's car he could. He must have done a thousand of them!. Over 125 million people have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace throughout time. It all started with a back ache. My grandfather woke up one morning with a severe pain in his back. He didn't think anything of it at first. When the pain continued my grandmother took him to an orthopedic. They told him he had arthritis and sent him home with some medicine for his pain. His pain didn't go away. A few weeks following the orthopedic trip he could no longer walk. He was taken to the hospital on January 9th where they ran an MRI test and found a tumor located on his back hip bone. The tests showed his organs and brain perfectly fine and the doctors were left questioning where this tumor came from. They took a biopsy and sent it all the way to San Diego, California where they ran a molecular test to try to find the cause of his tumor. "A Molecular test is a collection of techniques used to analyze biological markers in the genome and proteome - the individual's genetic code and how their cells express their genes as proteins by applying molecular biology to medical testing" (Cancer.gov). Two weeks after the molecular test the results concluded that the tumor was caused by mesothelioma. Before this tumor my grandfather never had any medical problems at all. A few weeks after being diagnosed with mesothelioma my grandfather lost significant weight, couldn't swallow and lost his ability to think. He was moved from the hospital to a nursing home near my family's home in Point Pleasant. My mom told me it was time to visit him. Walking into that room and seeing my grandfather in a wheelchair will never leave my head. He looked like a completely different person. The man I was sitting around the dinner table with on Christmas Eve was not the man I was looking at a month later. This disease took that man away from me. I would try to have a conversation with him but I couldn't really understand what he was trying to say. I couldn't stop crying and even though he wasn't completely there I could tell he felt my energy. I would hold his hand and tell him everything was going to be ok even though it wasn't. I didn't want to accept the fact that my grandfather was dying. The Nascar and Frank Sinatra loving man that has been in my life for 18 years was dying right in front of me. It was hard to watch my mother try to feed him like an infant. It was hard to see my family have to tell my grandfather's 100 year old mother that her son had passed so suddenly, and would not be coming to visit anymore. This type of disease was not fair to anyone, and cruel to all. Mesothelioma is the disease that took my grandfather's life. Mesothelioma is the disease that caused my family so much pain. Mesothelioma is the disease that affects over 100 thousand people world wide per year. Mesothelioma. That name will forever haunt me. That name will bring back all the sadness and pain. There is a saying in life that reads "you never know what you have until it's gone" and I have never really experienced that until now. We as humans must love and appreciate our loved ones while we have them because in a blink of an eye they can leave us. In one single second your world can change for the worse. Rest in paradise Grandpa Addie.. You will forever be in our hearts. "I stood tall and did it my way" -Frank Sinatra. Work Cited Godfrey, Nicole. "Mesothelioma Facts & Statistics | Learn Mesothelioma Information." MesotheliomaGuide, 17 Dec. 2017, www.mesotheliomaguide.com/mesothelioma/facts-and-statistics/.

Matthew L. - Binghamton - Read Essay »

Cancer is no ordinary disease: single-handedly, it's the most physically and emotionally destructive force that has ever plagued our society; in essence, the ultimate two-pronged evil. Arising when we least expect it, it tries to rip the very foundation of life out from under anyone. As a result, I've never met someone who hasn't been pervaded by cancer in one way or another. Whether it's been the loss of a family member, or a friend, it's been accepted as an unfortunate, but ever-present constant in life. Did the neighbor two houses down unexpectedly pass away? The first assumption is of course the damnable ax of all, cancer. Fighting such a monster is akin to fighting a goliath with a stick; daunting and seemingly impossible. Even the mere word is enough to make someone physically uneasy, if only for a few seconds. To win a war of this magnitude, every single extant asset needs to be rallied towards one central goal: life. At the ripe old age of 8, the first of many of life's disastrous lows reared its head: a car crash. As emotionally devastating as that was on its lonesome, sequential doctor visits revealed something so seemingly inconsequential that it was almost not even worth getting checked out: my mom had abnormally swollen lymph nodes in her neck. Which could have arisen from any number of things, but with further testing, it revealed the worst. As my mom likes to describe it: the mammogram came back with a bunch of "tiny, little snowflakes" in her right breast. Letting the shock sink in, she also had four kids to take care of, and was getting us on the bus the next day. One month later, a second mammogram showed the snowflakes had metamorphosed into what could only be described as a blizzard, lighting up the mammogram in its entirety. At this point it was clear that my mom had a particularly aggressive cancer, all the while local doctors fumbled around. Bad advice after botched biopsy after indescribable injustice, she had to fight both her growing monster and other's rampant incompetence. Her saving grace took the form of a man who's kindness and skill knew absolutely no bounds. A plastic surgeon, whose immediate operation definitively separated her from the storm once and for all. Normally, they would've only taken off the right breast, but at my mother's insistence, he took off both. Histological analysis of the left breast revealed something that still makes my blood freeze: there was a little snowflake in it. Whether or not it was a different cancer, or perhaps the very same that had just recently metastasized, makes no difference. All that mattered was that it was gone; the storm had come and passed, and in the end, the sun rose once more. My mom is single-handedly the strongest person I know. Having both fought off cancer, doctors, and it's grasp on her children, she never let it show. She kept her composure up until the very end, and relentlessly shielded us from her fight. Eight year old me knew something was seriously wrong, but I could've never guessed the complexity of what she was up against, and what the implications were. A mother at heart, I almost lost her without ever knowing, and it pains me to think about how close she came. My mom is not the only one, however. Cancer took the man I'm proudly named after, her father, and it even tried to take her mother four times. It's taken many, many people from all the friends and family I know. And one day, I'm going to become a neurosurgeon, just to take many, many people right back.

Tamara J. - Colorado Technical University - Read Essay »

On May 2, 2012 my whole world changed. Just a week before, I had surgery for what my Dr. believed was an inguinal hernia. But, immediately following the surgery, I was told it was an issue with my lymph nodes. The surgeon informed me that they removed a golf ball sized lymph node, and the lymph nodes that were surrounding it, in my groin. He gave the impression that nothing was wrong. He also told me, that the tissue samples were sent off for biopsy, just to be safe and to make sure to keep the follow up appointment for the results. I then healed over the next week. Having no idea that my life was about to completely change. Following my week of healing and needing a release to return to work, I go to my follow up appointment, at the surgeon's office, in hopes of obtaining the form. * Insert life changing moment. * I was COMPLETELY oblivious as to what was about to transpire. I was thinking about my work schedule that was coming up and trying to remember to get a work excuse for the time I was out. When the Dr. walked in, closely followed by a nurse holding a tissue box, I knew that something was wrong. Why does he need backup for good news? I remember thinking. "You have Lymphoma." the surgeon said to me. Those 3 words have changed my life forever. My mind started spinning. What? Excuse me? That's a funny way of saying I'm ok to go back to work! Then it hit me... WAIT!... WHAT.DID. HE. SAY?! There were so many thoughts! The surgeon continued talking, he was trying to explain to me that he wasn't an Oncologist, (a what?) but that they made me an appointment at one for the following morning locally for me. Oh yeah, Oncologist...cancer doctor. Wow, well that was nice of them to do that"¦ Wait...why so soon?? TOMORROW? HOW BAD IS IT? WHAT STAGE AM I? I wasn't hearing him very well. Everything was going so slow. I've never had such a hard time registering something. It was real life slow motion. The nurse patted me on the shoulder as the Dr. handed me the box of tissues. He informed me there weren't any more appointments for the day, for me to take my time to process everything. Then they walked out. I remember thinking how their job must suck telling people this. I remember my eyes welling up, but not crying. I remember my first thought being, "I don't have time for this sh*t." The next few minutes were fuzzy. I was trying to grasp what he had said. Lymphoma"¦I've read about that"¦heard about it"¦but that's cancer"¦so"¦I HAVE CANCER?! It was like a physical punch in my gut. I had to leave and get out of their office ASAP. Part of me thought that if I left quick enough, it wouldn't be real. Not a word was said as I hurried out of their office. I didn't make eye contact with anyone though. Somehow, I was embarrassed that I had cancer. I didn't want to see pity in anyone's eyes. Like I said, a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts were going through my brain. Not one of them made sense. I was numb as I walked out to the parking lot to my car. After what seemed like an hour of trying to unlock my door, I finally got in and sat down and shut the door. I took a deep breath, and let it out. Then came the anger. I let it all out inside my car. A primal scream is what it felt like. I didn't care or look to see if anyone heard. Then I prayed like I've never prayed before. I talked to God as if he was sitting in the passenger seat. I was trying to make sense of it all. I didn't cry until I called my Mom and I heard her cry. We both wept for a moment. She cleared her throat, then informed me I was going to make it through this. She reminded me that I come from a long line of strong women. My mother is a 3-time cancer survivor. She is THE strongest woman I've ever known. She started to teach me how to fight with that first phone call. She told me to take a couple days to soak it all in. So I did. I slept a lot during the day. There were many sleepless nights in those first weeks, but that is when I would allow myself to cry and vent. When the children were in bed. I would not allow them to see me struggling. My depression was at its peak during this time, it's hard for anyone to think about their mortality. The average person just pushes the thoughts of death far back in their brains, they don't want to think about it. Having Cancer brings it front and center. One morning I woke up, and began opening the blinds on the windows in my home. With each one a little more light came in. It felt so good. That was that, no more darkness, enough time was taken to accept my diagnoses. Now it was time to fight! And fight I did! I fought it with everything I had because I was not ready to die. Fast forward through bone marrow biopsies, PET and CT scans, 6 months of chemo, surgeries, mandatory masks, ER trips for complications, bloodwork, 2 years of monoclonal antibody therapy, and enough medications to fill a pool to ensure I stayed alive, but here I am! Very alive and kicking! It's so strange to think that cancer taught me how to live, but it did. Because of what I have been through I crave life experiences, I want to do the things I thought I would always have enough time for. But, in all actuality WE DONT. Life is so precious and short. Check off your items on your bucket list now! High up on that list for me is a degree. I want a degree. I will obtain a degree. But I need a little help. That is where you come into play. If I am chosen for this scholarship I give my word that it will be put to great use! Being on disability I don't have many options financially for obtaining a degree. (To say cancer has ruined my credit is an understatement.) Loans are not an option because of it. My only options are grants and scholarships. So here I am. Hoping my journey to keep pursuing my dreams can be achieved with your help. In closing, I wanted to say thank you for considering me for this scholarship and for letting me share part of my cancer journey with you. Remember to always make each day count! Tamara Johnson Stage IV Cancer Warrior.

Brianna C. - University of Miami - Read Essay »

Hope, courage, determination and a positive attitude are just as important as chemo and radiation when it comes to fighting cancer. Lymphoma has affected my life in the most positive way imaginable. In order to understand how cancer- something so awful- has been such a blessing to me, it is important to understand my cancer journey from the beginning. I have arrived at my final goal: survivorship! This journey did not start out as a blessing. In fact, my journey commenced as a nightmare. As a preteen, I faced the cruel, never-ending tyranny of an unknown disease that overtook my body. It stationed itself in my neck, then tore through my lungs, exploding in my abdomen. It invited night sweats, exhaustion and fevers into my innocent body. This disease caused me to quickly lose weight until I was emaciated. Its favorite act of cruelty was joint pain. Making sneak attacks in the still of the night, this mysterious disease thrived on waking me up in utter, excruciating shock, screaming from flashes of pain. It took doctors a year to diagnose my disease. I seemed to be a medical mystery, working my way closer to death. Finally, on October 16, 2007, this disease was given a name: cancer. It was Stage IV, Hodgkin' Lymphoma. I endured numerous hospitalizations, aggressive chemotherapy, and blood transfusions. Being a cancer patient is not describable it just consumes you. While cancer gave me many dark days, it gave me so many more bright days filled with laughs, smiles and positivity. I now have a different perspective on life. I believe that life is such a gift. Being able to wake up everyday, happy and healthy and ready to conquer the day, is an absolute blessing. Aside from giving me a new perspective on life, cancer positively impacted my personality. I became a determined young lady. When my treatments were complete, I made a commitment to myself: I wanted to make it my mission to combat pediatric cancer, and this dream has become my reality. I have used my survivorship to go on and become an activist, advocate, ambassador, congressional lobbyist, public speaker, athlete, and a leader. I have received honors from the American Cancer Society, Knights of Columbus, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and The OctoberWoman Foundation. I lobbied in Congress for the Creating Hope Act, a bill would revolutionize the way children with cancer are treated. The culmination of these efforts occurred last summer when, the bill was signed into law by President Obama. I was nominated as the Hyundai Hope on Wheels National Youth Ambassador. During my tenure, I traveled the country sharing my story, meeting patients, doctors and researchers. Through my efforts, I helped the foundation raise &73 million for cancer research. This endeavor has truly been life changing. As a Relay for Life Team Captain, my team has raised over $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. Education is leading reachers and scientist toward finding a cure. I carry that hope that I will see a cure for this disease in my lifetime. My future plans are to graduate from the University of Miami with a broadcast journalism and political science major. I would love to nail my dream job as a political reporter. I chose this career path because I found my passion for public speaking through cancer. Having opportunities to share my cancer journey in front of others gave me the confidence and comfort that is needed for reporting. I also love the idea of reporting essential news to the American people, so they are well rounded and politically informed. To me, these are important qualities as a citizen. It would be an honor to receive this award and continue to thrive academically at my dream school. I continue to experience excellent health and follow up regularly with my team of wonderful doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. As expected, I do have effects from my treatment, however, I will thrive.

DaJuan B. - UCLA Anderson School of Management - Read Essay »

When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor that left me blind in my left eye and my peripheral vision in my right eye. The tumor was the size of a golf ball and had to be removed immediately once it was discovered through a brain scan. Before going into surgery, the doctor informed my family of the possible outcomes: I could be completely blind, a vegetable, or not make it at all. The tumor was removed on September 28, 2000, but came back 2 years later and had to be surgically removed again. Though I did not know it at the time, this would become the most interesting moment in my life. After waking up from my first surgery, I discovered that I lost my sense of smell and taste, my vision in my left eye, and my ability to walk. I was 8 years old and I felt like my life was over. The doctors explained how I would not be able to play outside or over exert myself, and how I needed to wear glasses to protect the vision, and take medicine daily to keep me alive. I didn't understand anything, but I remember looking at myself in the mirror for the first time after surgery and seeing a crooked scar that stretched across my forehead from one ear to the other. Even though I was partially blind, could not walk, taste, or smell, I was embarrassed about this new scar that would stick with me for the rest of my life. The first time I stepped outside without a hat on and revealed my scar to the world, everyone stared at me: adults, children, and pets. The confidence that I was forced to build during those trying times as a child has been instrumental to my success as a consultant. From building relationships with new clients to taking on new tasks, I am forced to tap into my inner resilience to get the job done. Eventually I embraced my scar and used it as a conversation starter when building new relationships. I realized the chances of surviving two brain tumor surgeries and living a bountiful life were minimal, but I was determined to make something out of my life and face any challenges I would encounter. I recently celebrated 17 years since my first surgery, and according to statistics, I was not supposed to make it this far. Even though it is tough to recall the moment I found out I had a tumor to the moment I laid on the gurney before going into surgery, I reflect on those moments and realize that I would not be who I am without those experiences. The negative outcomes of my disability, like my partial blindness, have brought more meaning and purpose to my life. Due to my experience, I make sure that I live every day to the fullest, learn and love as much as I can because I was chosen to beat the odds for a purpose and I want to make sure that my purpose of helping others is fulfilled. I used all these traits to fight cancer, but I could not have done it without my family and my faith. Being accepted into UCLA Anderson School of Management is a major accomplishment for my family and me because of all we have been through to get to this moment. We all fought to get me through the life changing experience that came with being diagnosed with a brain tumor. While I took on the physical struggle, we all took on the emotional and financial struggle. Since my recovery, I have continued to fight to ensure that my family is taken care of for all that they had to go through. Gaining my MBA will allow me to expand my reach and fight for others as well by giving my testimony to others who may be fighting the same fight. I would like to exemplify the fact that cancer is not the end. Not only do people and families survive, but they can thrive and live bountiful lives. To fight cancer you have to have hope and being a role model to a child or an adult burdened by cancer, I plan to give them hope to help them survive.

Matthew B. - Emory University - Read Essay »

A round piece of silicone wrapped in a metal ring about the size of a quarter. If you tip it slightly, at just the right angle, where it catches the light, you would see hundreds of tiny holes covering the entirety of its surface. A miniature vacated battlefield of a war once won. It may not look like much to most people, but this tiny piece of plastic riddled with needle holes called a port or port-a-cath, helped to save my life and is now my visual inspiration to help others. In the beginning, each hole could have easily represented another round of chemotherapy, spinal tap, blood transfusion, hospitalization, surgery or enrollment into a new study to treat my leukemia. They could also represent; another day unable to attend school, each time being isolated from friends, and too many middle of the night trips to the emergency room that would ultimately lead to another round of pokes, tests and abruptly waking to the beeping alarm of my IV pole early the next morning. However, as my body has recuperated over the past 5 years since completing cancer treatment, the meaning of each hole has also transformed. Each hole now represents a lesson learned, a person met through my experience, and the opportunity to make impactful change for people affected by catastrophic illness. My parents and doctors have always encouraged me to not let my experience with cancer define me. I believe I have done a good job of incorporating that into my daily life, relationships and pursued interests. However, as I have matured and started to gain new experiences in life, I have chosen to reconnect with my past and allow it to acutely influence my perspective. I can't help but to see the world from a slightly different angle than my peers after experiencing the delicateness and resiliency of life by age 12. I no longer view those years in and out of the hospital as negative, but a gift to help shape my abilities and sharpen my purpose. From a very young age, I've learned; to be an advocate for myself, to be an effective communicator, how to endure and thrive through challenges, become a capable and independent learner, and find joy in contributing back to the community that surrounded me during my time of need. I want to now expand on those experiences and create new and meaningful relationships within the college environment that will continue to mold how I see the world, and my future contributions within it. I want to bravely explore other "holes" people have endured within their own lives, sit with them, and begin to find ways to alleviate their struggles through the commonalities of the human experience. If we can appreciate our differences, yet focus on what connects us, I believe there would be more peace in the world and less opportunities for any kind of pain and suffering. Empathy and compassion, in combination with technology and research, has the potential to redefine health and care. I intend for my experience and knowledge to be part of this progress. My current objective is to build my college education with a concentration in biology and life sciences with the goal to become a research oncologist. Beyond my academic interest in these areas, I believe shifting my experiences from patient or receiver of care, to student of science with the intent to deliver care, will provide me the knowledge and holistic perspective to begin to develop the passion and endurance necessary to make a life-long commitment to healing through medicine. Just like Sidney Farber, who sat in his basement laboratory at Boston Children's in 1947, I choose to focus my attention on breaking down cancer into its simplest form. I believe that today, the study of genetics (the probable source of my own affliction), is the key to unlocking and finally solving the cancer puzzle. We can't always choose the experiences that shape us into who we are meant to be, but we can utilize them to empower ourselves, inspire each other, and help others. Holes don't have to be permanent; they can be the necessary foundation to begin to build something important and meaningful. We must be willing to excavate our own comfort, take risk, overcome challenges, plant new footings, and create solutions to fill the gaps that are exposed in both our own lives, and in the lives of the people around us. Sometimes, if we look at things from a slightly different angle, like when the light reflects off my port, we can find new solutions to effectively and completely fill each new hole.

Leslie F. - Vanderbilt University - Read Essay »

"What does it take to fight cancer?" That is a loaded question. It takes MORE in order to fight cancer; more resources, more research, more compassion, more love, more sweat, more tears and especially MORE time. I wish I had more time to spend with my mother. She died from breast cancer in September of 2008. My experience growing up could have been very different if my parents had chosen to follow the same path as they had been given. My father was a machinist for forty-four years and worked for the same company his entire adult life. He instilled in me a strong sense of loyalty, commitment and the importance of getting an education. My mother was a secretary, paralegal, and my high school cheerleading coach. The semester after I graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Secondary Education, she started her own college career. She wanted to go to college her entire life but didn't have the same opportunities or support to do so. She taught me about perseverance and that it is never too late to follow a dream. My parents sacrificed to pay for my degree and she finally felt like it was her turn. Her desire was to become a teacher as well. She graduated with honors in three years and taught Latin and Greek for seven years. I am dedicated to carrying out their legacy. After teaching in the middle school environment for eleven years, I felt drawn back to pursuing a career in the medical field. My mother had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and was beginning to navigate the disease as well as the health system. It was a horrific experience for her and I was appalled at the way she was treated by some of her medical team and physicians. In short, I needed to do something to help, to make a difference even if it was indirectly. I took a position as Curriculum Coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina working with faculty to deliver robust, challenging and innovative curricula to first year medical students. One of the courses, Fundamentals of Patient Care, taught the principles of communication, compassion and caring for the patient as a person not a disease. Working in the Undergraduate Medical Education arena was wonderful and very fulfilling but I felt drawn to the Graduate Medical Education environment. Now, I work full time at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and am seeking to further my education as a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University. I feel certain if my mother was still alive, she'd have already completed her doctorate. She was enrolled in a Master's program when she died. I want MORE education and to complete a degree that will allow me to do MORE in the areas I am most passionate such as medical education, training new physicians, and professionalism in medicine.

Karsten M. - Oklahoma University (Norman,OK) - Read Essay »

"Make sure he graduates high school and help him go to college, because I won't be there to see it happen." This was my mother's dying wish. I have no memories of my mother, except for pictures and stories my father has told me. She passed away when I was only 18 months old. There's always been a certain void in my life from not having my mother around while growing up. Don't get me wrong, I love my dad, he is amazing, but nothing compares to the nurturing of a mother when you are sick or having a rough day. The absence of a mother is felt in many areas of life. I especially remember a time in elementary school when they had a program called "Muffins for Mom". All the other kids had their moms there and they were smiling and laughing. I noticed how the moms kept hugging their kids. That was the first time that I really felt the sting of not having a mother. Even though I didn't get to experience quality time with mom, my older brother did and the stories he tells about her are amazing. I can only imagine what it would have been like to grow up with her. Even though I am grateful for the life she gave me, I still have a void and the only thing I can fill it with are other people's memories. My mom had just earned her real estate license and was employed at a small town Oklahoma realty. My dad was just a few years out of college and pursuing his career as an environmental specialist, which often kept him traveling out of town. My mom was 33 years old when she found out she was pregnant with me. When she told my dad, they were both ecstatic! They immediately started going to doctor appointments and reading all the latest baby rearing literature as most first-time expecting parents do. After just a few doctor visits, a problem was discovered with my mother. A series of tests were performed and the doctors concluded that my mother had a very aggressive strand of cervical cancer. The doctors gave my mom two choices and let her decide what was best for her. The first option was to abort the pregnancy and have surgery to remove the cancer. The second option was to continue the pregnancy. If she chose this option, she would have to take medication and steroid shots to help me develop, especially my lungs. She was informed that by taking the medication and the shots, the growth of the cancer would accelerate rapidly. The longer her pregnancy term lasted, the lower her survival rate would be for this type of cancer. My dad told me that without hesitation, my mom said she was going to continue the pregnancy and take the shots and medication. I was born May 7, 1999, about two and a half months premature. I weighed a little over three pounds and my lungs were not fully developed. They took me from my mom and put me in the neonatal intensive care unit at OU Children's Hospital. I stayed there for 18 days. My mom was rushed into surgery after I was born. They removed the cancer and then she had to endure several months of chemo and radiation. Unfortunately, the cancer came back with a vengeance and spread to other parts of her body. The doctors told her and my dad that there was nothing more they could do and sent her home to enjoy what time she had left surrounded by friends and family. My mom and I celebrated my first birthday together, shortly after she entered hospice care. She passed away in November of 2000 when I was barely 18 months old. I know that I didn't get to spend much time with her and I barely knew her, but my heart is full for the love and sacrifice she made for me. Speaking of sacrifices, that brings me to my dad. His life was turned upside down. My mom had no life insurance. My dad had to give up his high-paying career as an environmental specialist to take care of me full time. He took a job at the local school as a teacher. My older brother moved in with his biological father, so that just left dad and me. We have made it work for 17 years now. It has been hard at times, not having her, but thank God for family. My dad is still a school teacher in a low income school in Oklahoma. He sacrificed his career for me. The selflessness and generosity he displays drives me to achieve my education goals. He told me of my mom's dying wish. I have to graduate, go to college, and be successful. This is my gift to my parents for the massive sacrifices they made for me. I am currently a senior at Wynnewood High School. I have a weighted GPA of 4.0 and an unweighted GPA of 3.92. I want to attend the University of Oklahoma next fall. I am applying for scholarships to help me with the financial aspects of college. Getting a college education means the world to me on many levels. Attending college and graduating would honor my parent's sacrifices and I know I can do it with the help of scholarships and the moral support of family. I will achieve my goals and fulfill my mom's final wish. Thank You for Your Consideration, Karsten Mathis.

Parker F. - Baylor University - Read Essay »

I decided when I was just three years old that I was one day going to become a doctor and help others. I was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of cancer, called Philadelphia Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, giving me a less than 20 percent chance for surviving past the age of five. On the SAME DAY that I was diagnosed with leukemia, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I underwent heavy chemotherapy and needed many blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant to survive. I was very sick, battling multiple infections on top of the cancer and I pretty much lived in the hospital for the next year. The treatment was excruciatingly painful, with horrible chemotherapy, and bone marrow aspirations, but throughout the process I just had to keep a fighting spirit. It is what is totally needed to fight cancer. My grandmother too was on heavy chemotherapy. We were bald together, but we were kept apart, because I was in a children's hospital and she was in another hospital about 5 miles away, but we kept in touch and encouraged each other to keep that fighting spirit! I've undergone over thirty surgeries, twenty transfusions, and watched as some of the first friends I ever made lost their lives to cancer. I was living in the hospital. Most of my friends were cancer kids, and most of them died. I've been to more children's funerals than adults. I missed half of kindergarten and all of 1st grade and 1/3 of 4th grade. I had a home hospital teacher come to my house to help me stay caught up, but quite often, I wouldn't feel well enough to work. At age 5, I underwent a bone marrow transplant and missed an entire year of school. While in the hospital, a new teacher was assigned to me. We worked as hard as I possibly could, but I was very sick. When I returned to school, it was very apparent that I was behind. Because I missed 1st grade, they suggested starting me in 2nd. I sank. I just could not keep up. I did my best, and yet I received C's and D's. It was suggested that I be retained. All my friends from kindergarten moved ahead of me and I repeated the 2nd grade. My poor mother was torn from not wanting to leave my side and the guilt of not being there for her mother who was deep in her own battle. My family was turned upside down. It was quite a miracle that both Grandma and I made it through. It is a bond that we will always share. At age 9, I was diagnosed with a secondary cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. It was a deadly skin cancer that was a side affect of one of the meds that I was on after transplant. It made me more susceptible to the sun. I had tumors in my ear, on my lip and on my hand. I underwent even more surgeries. I went back on home hospital. I was disfigured now and returning to school was frightening. I started a series of plastic surgeries, but you could still tell. I did return to school, and now I had a drive like none other. Since repeating 2nd grade, I have been an "A" student! I drive my parents crazy, because I want to try everything and I join anything that I can. I've played instruments, done science fair, am on the Mock Trial Team, played on the golf team and the list goes on and on. I do not EVER want to wait until tomorrow to try something that I can do today. I know too well that tomorrow is a gift. I began going out to the hospital to encourage other cancer kids that they too can fight hard. I taught them how to read their labs and sometimes would help them learn how to swallow pills, because the liquid medicines were so disgusting. I encouraged them to apply to go to Camp Sunshine Dreams Cancer Kid's Camp where I am a counselor. All of these things helped solidify that I want to be a doctor and help others. I was accepted to CART (Center of Advanced Research and Technology) for biomedical in high school and I am completing my senior year in advanced biomedical. I volunteer with the Central California Blood Center hosting drives that have brought in over 6,000 donors of blood and bone marrow. I do ride alongs with American Ambulance and I am looking forward to doing an internship at the local trauma center next semester. Learning to deal with my physical limitations and push forward from it has truly been one of the hardest things to overcome. I never want someone to look at me like I am a cancer kid, and say my future will not be as bright as their's. I want people to think"¦"Dang, he was a cancer kid and he has overcome all these odds and obstacles! My cancer history and my grandmother's has inspired my drive for a career in medicine. In the future, I want to find solutions for other children faced with these challenges. I would forever be grateful to be considered for your scholarship.

Francesca O. - Stanford University - Read Essay »

My name is Francesca Olguin and I would like to tell you my story about surviving cancer at a young age and what it takes to fight cancer. Cancer impacted my life at age 15 when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma that spread to my neck, esophagus, and both lungs. Doctors missed diagnosing this cancer because it is very rarely seen in children. My reaction was disbelief, denial. Was it a joke? How could I have Cancer? I feel strong and I was one of the best runners in the state. Two days later, I was in the hospital and not prepared for the journey I was about to embark on. The first week was spent having tests and scans. No tears had been shed and reality had not sunk in. A week later, the night before my 10 hour surgery, was the first time I cried. I was afraid of the unknown; little did I know how gruesome it would be. Waking up scared; unable to move, talk or breathe. In excruciating pain. The radical neck dissection left me looking a bit like Frankenstein; like someone tried to cut my head off and it was reattached. Responding to strangers asking what happened was quite the skill to learn. Imagine at age 15, how tragic it was to have a physical appearance so grotesque that it made people feel ill. It really seemed like no one could resist asking what happened! The surgeons said I wouldn't be able to move my arm or talk; I can. What they said didn't matter. I had no time to waste listening to limitations. I knew what I thought I was capable of and after it all, I was wrong. In the end, I'm stronger than I ever thought possible before cancer intruded on my life. The recovery was not easy and the long struggle to regain control of my life has shaped me forever. People take their health for granted and do not understand what can happen when it is ripped away. I was one of those people my whole life. It took three months to be able to talk from paralyzed vocal cords, and a month to be able to walk correctly and start using my arm which kept dislocating due to nerve damage. I spent the next two years catching up on missed classes in addition to a full course load at school. Running full strength again is what helped me reach my true recovery and mark when I was done with cancer's setbacks. When I first tried to start running after the first 50 yards, I cried and could not run any further. Staring at disappointment in the face, vomiting, shaking, feeling faintish, seeing the road ahead and not being able to go down it, was the worst feeling in the world! Cancer was still blocking me from doing what I love! I had several complications trying to run in the beginning. First, I couldn't run due to the lack of energy. My thyroid levels were depleted so radiation could be successful, resulting in gaining 30 pounds. The radiation affected the one salivary gland I had left because the other was removed during surgery. For months, the lack of saliva in my mouth would cause a gag reflex and I had to endure several months of throwing up until medication started helping. Not giving up and running full strength again is what helped me reach my true recovery. I crossed the finish line at the Arizona State Cross Country meet and just cried. Knowing how far I had come and what I achieved was indescribable. My experience showed me I'm capable of absolutely anything and can overcome any sort of twist fate throws at me. Despite my challenging journey, I graduated high school in the top 5 percent of my class, was a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar, earned 10 varsity letters, received the Master Athlete Award, was the top female cross country runner at my school, and was accepted to Stanford University. My goal is to become a Pediatric Oncologist to help others through the struggles I went through. I could give insight, encouragement, and a new perspective from someone who knows what they are experiencing. Since 2013, I've been researching cancer treatments/prevention at the Translational Genomics Research Institution (TGen) and currently at Stanford University Hospital. Cancer research is an amazing way to help millions by creating new treatments and preventative measures. Receiving this scholarship would help me to continue to pursue my dream! Thank you for your consideration.

Annalisa B. - DePaul University - Read Essay »

Last year, my German grandpa, we call him Opi, was diagnosed with MDS RAP II, which is a type of early Leukemia. He receives chemo for one week every month and then is home for three weeks to wait to see how it affects him. Since his chemo started, he has barely been himself: the bright, funny, and lively grandpa that I used to know; instead, he often sits confused and slightly catatonic, even around family. So, here is a list of things that I've learned- from my Opi, from my family, and from my own experience- about what it takes to fight cancer: 1. Let yourself freak out. The news that someone you love has cancer is so scary and crazy- I cried myself to sleep the first night after I found out. I wondered how this could happen, what he ever did to deserve this. It's ok to be scared and to feel sad and to feel angry at the world, just don't let the anger come out at your family or friends- it won't help anything. 2. Get a doctor who knows you. When Opi was diagnosed, he went to a doctor specifically for the cancer, but he also went to a new doctor for his diabetes who did not know much about him and his personality, or the chemo he was doing for his cancer. Therefore, none of his doctors noticed a change in personality or energy level once chemo started, because neither of them knew him before he got sick. 3. Do your research! This is partly where education comes in: do research online and seek out more than one opinion, because as great as the first doctor might be, he's just one opinion out of so many others in the world, who may have dealt with more similar cases. 4. Ask questions!!!! Being in school teaches you that it is ok to ask for clarification, or go in for extra help if something is not going the right way even if you are afraid of failing- it's the same thing with sickness. Don't be afraid to ask the doctors questions if you don't understand something- their main priority is helping the patient and helping you comprehend what is happening and why it is happening and how they are going to combat it. When my grandma first told us about Opi's cancer, she didn't give many details. At first this was extremely frustrating because I wanted to know exactly what was wrong and all the different steps that were being taken to help it. Then I realized that she was just so afraid of what the doctor might tell her. Of course, we were all afraid, but the rest of my family knew that in order to deal with the fear and fight the cancer, we had to have all of the information first. 5. Cherish the small moments. I remember eating breakfast with Opi, the way he'd slather so much butter on his bread in the morning; I remember driving with him on the autobahn; I remember eating ice cream with him at night- we'd get a package of assorted ice creams and he'd eat the vanilla and I'd eat the chocolate and it was perfect because he didn't like chocolate. 6. Be there for each other. Last Christmas, my grandma broke down as my Opi was passing out gifts to his grandchildren. His movements were so frail and slow, I think we all felt a sort of finality to his actions- like he may not be around next Christmas. It was heartbreaking, not only for me, but also to see my grandma- one of the strongest people I know- to cry like this. 7. Don't underestimate the power of a positive attitude. Not only will it keep your spirits up during a time that's already hard, but it will brighten everyone else's day as well. 8. Never give up hope. Last year, I designed a phone case for myself with a quote from the book I am Number Four that says "When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope." This quote served as a daily reminder to take heart, have faith, and keep hoping that everything would be ok with my Opi, because if you don't have hope for the future and the good things that can come, what is the point of all the fight and all the struggle? My Opi is still currently undergoing chemo, something he will probably have to continue for the rest of his life, the doctors said. He is still not the old Opi that he used to be, but I am grateful for every new day that he is still here with us, and I continue to hope for the days, months, and Christmases to come with my Opi.

Yasmine C. - Kennesaw State University - Read Essay »

To say cancer is "hard" to endure is an understatement; just the thought of the word is depressing to most people. Cancer drains you; your body, mind and soul. It drains your will to want to fight. Having to watch your family members, in my case cousin and grandmother, go through such a traumatic and painful experience can not only weigh heavily down upon the victim but the family and friends who have to watch the lively person the once knew deteriorate into an unrecognizable vessel of their former self. So, what does it take to fight cancer? Determination; faith; hope; love; positivity. Yes, it is important for the patient to be in a supporting environment, but it is all about the mentality that the person has on the situation. They have to want it; fight for it because no matter how much support the patient has, their fate depends solely on them. Live or die? Nobody can answer that question, except them. When I was in third grade, I remember being at school when my parents approached me with grim expressions on their faces. I could immediately tell something was not right. They told me my one year old cousin was sick. He had a brain tumor. We had to leave for Florida, immediately, to see him. It was the first time I had seen him, in person, since he was born and it was through a glass window. He was on a hospital bed with all sorts of wires and tubes connected to him. He was too unstable, with the combination of his tumor and his weak immune system from being a newborn, for visitors inside his room. Shortly after the visit, he passed away. I did not fully comprehend the circumstances at the time because of my age, but I knew enough to know it was not fair that a baby, only months old, died from cancer. Sometimes the patient needs their support system to fight for them because they do not have to ability to fight for themselves. Recently, my grandmother was diagnosed with Gastric Cancer, which caused other complication with her health, like becoming anemic. She had undergone Gastric Bypass surgery, as well as surgery to remove the cancer cells from her lymph nodes. Within months she has lost an alarming amount of weight- seventy pounds and counting- and has been in and out of the hospital for Chemotherapy. My grandma is from Haiti, so she does not understand everything about the English language, which is terrible for the doctor-patient relationship. She does not understand that the cancer was removed from her lymph nodes in surgery over five months ago and that the chemotherapy is in order to prevent the cancer from returning. She has entered a deep depression. She refuses to eat because she is scared she will throw up. She progressively gets worse - she has delusions of her mother whom has passed, she sleeps all day and tells us (my mom mostly) to let her die. You cannot force someone to want to become better. In order to fight cancer, you need to have positive thinking. Whenever I was sick my mom would say "you have to act like you're not sick because if you act like you are sick, you're going to stay sick. It's all about your mentality." How has cancer instilled the importance of education in me? Just about every kindergarten teacher asks his or her students what they would like to be when they are older; my answer was always, undoubtedly to be a doctor. I have always known that I wanted to help others. After a few years of reflection and researching multiple specialties, I realized I wanted to help prevent other kids and families from having to go through what my cousin and family experienced. That is why I am studying to become a Pediatric Oncologist. I want to help prevent cancer and prolong at least one child's life. I believe everyone deserves a chance to create their own experiences and have the opportunity to truly live life.I believe that children are where we should begin, in order to help make changes. Being in a situation like this changed my life, in a positive way. It made me want to make a change, not for myself, but for the benefit of others. Although I have always wanted to help other, having to witness my cousin passed away at such an extremely young age made me more determined and allowed me to narrow my focus. My determination to help make a difference was strengthened when my grandma was diagnosed; watching the toll it has taken on, not only my grandma, but my mom too. When we first heard the new, my mom flew to Virginia and spent twelve days in the hospital with my grandma. As her only daughter, my mom took on the job as my grandma's caretaker, and translator. Apart from my grandmother, the cancer has affected my mom the most. She has to drive from Georgia to Virginia constantly to attend my grandma's appointment and chemotherapy, help me plan for college and attend important family matters. As my grandma's condition worsens, my mom becomes depressed and stressed. Currently, I am taking the steps I believe will help me reach my goal of becoming a Pediatric Oncologist. I graduated from the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program. I will be attending Kennesaw State University in August and am en route to receiving my BS in Biochemistry. I plan on attending medical school after college; education is important in the fight against cancer because without education, there is no progression. Education is key to everything we do, and one way or another, we need education to survive. What does it truly take to fight cancer? When you think about it, it all comes down to one simple answer. Strength - emotional, physical and mental strength.

Cordelia B. - Georgetown University - Read Essay »

"You may have noticed that I am wearing something interesting on my head. ÂYes, it is a cow-udder hat. You may be wondering why I am wearing this hat. Well, I have cancer. That probably doesn't answer your question, seeing how cancer and cow-udders have very little in common. This hat represents a promise I have to all of you--to remain positive and to keep a sense of humor." I was six-years-old when my grandfather gave that speech in church. I couldn't understand why my grandmother was crying, or why church members told my grandfather they were "sorry". I played with his hat, sat with his lap, and laughed at his jokes. Cancer didn't mean anything to me, but a funny hat is something that makes perfect sense to the a six-year-old. The utter-hat made several appearances in the next year: in the room with the people with tubes in their arms, at the dinner table when my grandfather wasn't "˜hungry', and when he was having a "sleepover" in the hospital. My childhood memories of my grandfather were always happy even when the world, circumstances, and people around him were difficult. Chemotherapy was a chance to meet new people for him. When the medication made my grandfather too sick to eat, he would entertain anyone else while they ate. Stays in the hospital were a time to "catch up on reading". Cancer may have taken a physical toll on my grandfather, but it took a mental toll on my family. I remember one summer night when I was nine. My parents and grandmother were sitting on the porch. I was supposed to be sleeping, but I'd woken up to get some water. My grandmother, who had been a hospice nurse, was sobbing. Stoic--was the very definition of my grandmother. Stern, but loving, she always seemed unshakeable. My grandfather was three years into his treatment, and was spending another night in the hospital. My grandmother told my parents "that she wasn't sure he was going to make it this time." A few days later, she rolled her car on the way to the hospital, and landed in a hospital room next to his. When I went to visit them, I heard laughter coming from their hospital room. My grandmother was wearing the utter-hat, and my grandfather said "now we match". During the car accident my grandmother had hit her head, and the doctors had to shave off her hair. My grandparents now had matching hair (or lack of hair). The hilarity of the situation overcame my grandmother's fear. When my grandparents were checked out of the ICU, the nurses said that our family laughed more than anyone she had ever seen in a hospital. For the next few years, cancer became a way of life for my family. My aunt and father would alternate taking my grandfather to his doctor's appointments. Even when he caught pneumonia and the doctors said he wouldn't make it, my family made took it in stride. One day when my father was picking me up from dance practice, he got a miraculous phone call. I remember hearing the disbelief in his voice, "What do you mean it's not there?" My grandfather's tumor had vanished. He had stopped treatment a two months earlier, when the doctors had said that they could not operate on the tumor wrapped around his spine. Yet, in a couple of months, it had disappeared. The doctors were stunned. My family was stunned. Something that had been looming over my family for years was suddenly gone. "I know you have gotten used to me wearing this hat, but I think it's time for it to have a new wearer. Carol, please have my utter hat, as a reminder to remember to smile and laugh at the little things. This will be a long journey, but you will never be alone and nothing can rob you of hope." Carol was not the last owner of the utter-hat. It traveled to family members around the United States and ended its journey in France. Altogether, eight people have been the proud owners of a cow udder-hat. Not all of them had cancer, but everyone of them needed levity, positivity, and hope.

Jazmin G. - Cal Poly SLO - Read Essay »

As a Biomedical Engineering student, the topic of cancer comes across in several courses. The professor speaks about how the cancer cells spread and sooner than most people know it cancer has taken over the human body. But the topic of cancer is not just one that has been discussed in my courses, it is one that is more extensive than that and that I can trace to my roots and still takes a toll on my life today. I can trace cancer to my family roots. I come from an immigrant family whose grandfather came to California during World War 2 when the Bracero Program was implemented. During every harvest season, my grandfather Baltazar would leave his family to pick the cherry's, tomatoes, and strawberry's that filled the homes of Americans. During one harvest season in particular, my grandfather was having difficulties swallowing so he decided to go to the doctor where he was informed he had an esophageal tumor. The doctor told my grandfather that through surgery the tumor was removable but my grandfather, scared at the time, chose to wait and return to pick crops. When my grandfather returned to get the tumor removed it was too late, the cancer had already spread and was inoperable. Shortly after, my grandfather passed away at age 58 leaving 12 children and a wife behind. To this day cancer has still affected my family. My grandmother Adela suffered from gastric cancer a few years ago, however from previous experience with my grandfather the family was more cautious. The family would take her to the doctor and manage everything meticulously from what she ate to the time her medicine was to be taken. Cancer is a scary and difficult topic to deal with, but it can become a reality and take over your life faster than the cancer cells spread. If my grandfather would not have been scared to initially get surgery, he may have still been here today with our family and may have met all his grandchildren.To fight cancer it takes precaution and strength. If a person is diagnosed with cancer, it is important for them to find the strength to fight cancer and not let cancer defeat them without a battle. From my grandfather's experience the family learned that to fight cancer one must take precautions with oneself and our loved ones. We must go to the doctor regularly and have cancer screenings annually. This is important because it is critical that if a person has cancer that it is detected at an early stage so that it can be treated. With my grandmother, the cancer was able to be treated through something as simple as precaution. Cancer may not always be able to be treated, however. Some battles are won and others may not be. With the fight with cancer, it takes more than medical treatment; it takes hope. Recently, my family suffered a great loss. My eldest aunt, Herminia, of my grandfather's 12 children passed away from gastric cancer. My aunt was a woman full of life, who was most memorable for her large collection of birds. I remember it felt as if she had every bird in every color; she had bright orange and yellow canaries that filled her home with loud chirping. She had blue and green parakeets that would sing as you passed by their cages. My aunt Herminia may have passed away from her battle with cancer, but her memory lives in my family. It lives in me and in sparking a fight not with just cancer but in making progress in the medical field. From my aunts passing, I've learned that to fight cancer it takes hope. I am hopeful of a future with more medical advancements to fight cancer. My hope for a future like this lives in education. I am currently studying Biomedical Engineering in hopes of one day being able to aid in making advancements in the medical field. While I am not saying that I am going to find the cure to cancer, I am saying that I am yearning to make progress towards the fight with cancer. Whether it's engineering devices that help detect cancer more effectively or engineering devices that help remove cancerous cells, I want to pursue a career in Biomedical Engineering to make a contribution to the cancer community. I see this as a duty to hone the memory of my aunt Herminia. I see this as my grandfather's legacy for coming to a foreign country in hopes of making progress. I see this as my duty for the future, the future of perhaps my parents, cousins, aunts, or even possibly one day the future of my children. Cancer is an illness that can affect anyone at anytime. It is an illness that does not discriminate by age, race, gender, or socio-economic status, an illness that any one of us can one day fall victims to. Education is important in the fight against cancer because it gives us the tools to fight the disease. Without education we would not have medical advancements; we would not have the doctors that help treat cancer patients, the nurses that care for patients, the engineers that design the technology used in radiation therapy, the pharmacists that make the drugs that treat patients, the people that work in the laboratories detecting cancer, the researchers working hard to find the cure to cancer, and the list goes on. Education is the most vital tool that us humans have in our fight with cancer and it is a tool that I plan on using in my fight against the disease in honor of my family. Enclosed: photos /Users/jazminmunozgonzalez/Desktop/grandma.pdf /Users/jazminmunozgonzalez/Desktop/aunt.pdf

Victoria F. - University of Dallas - Read Essay »

In the Greek myth of Pandora's box, the gods give mortal Pandora a box filled with Death, evils, and Hope. The gods instruct her to never open the it. Pandora with her human curiosity opens the box releasing Death and other evils into the world. She panicked and quickly closed it leaving Hope behind in the box. Cancer without a doubt was one of the evils Pandora unleashed on the world. Hope, which is a distinctly human virtue, is what it takes to fight cancer. The virtue of hope was definitely at the center of my grandmother's battle with lymphoma. I was four years old when my grandma Gigi came to live with us. I was told she was sick and living with us to get better. What I did not know is the ugliness I was to witnessed in the hope she would win her battle. We live near the Texas Medical Center where Gigi was to receive experimental treatment for her form of lymphoma. For the next few months I would embark on a journey that would define my life and my dreams. I do not think during her treatment it ever dawned on me that I could lose her. Perhaps because I was a child filled with hope that I watched earnestly as we dropped her off at the hospital or when she took her medicine. Since Gigi's treatment was experimental, the future was not all certain. Hope is the virtue most needed when a loved one is undergoing experimental treatment. Gigi, the doctors, nurses, and my family all hoped that modern medicine would deliver on its promises. It did but her body became a battleground and it showed. I can remember vividly how frail Gigi became. I can still feel the fear that overcame me when I would see her with her hair falling out and the tubes in her arms. Not until recently that I understood that a child should not experience the fear which trembled through my little body those many years ago. It is this memory that has encouraged me to pursue a biochemistry degree and inspired my dream of ending cancer's terrible reign upon us because I do not want another child to know that type of fear. My mother through all of the treatments, medicines, and doctor visits was also pregnant. I cannot imagine the courage and hope which flowed in my mom's veins during this time. The very image of an expecting mother is hope. She is carrying within her womb the very future. My sister was named after Gigi's social worker as a reminder to always be a shining light in the dark. After a hard long battle Gigi defeated her lymphoma. I believe she would not have survived if those courageous doctors, nurses, and research scientists had not overcome their own struggles on their educational journey. I know that if Gigi had not be diagnosed with cancer I would not be pursuing a degree in biochemistry with the hope of developing new cancer treatments and medicines. I want to be like those unknown doctors, nurses, and research scientists who greatly helped my family. In a greater testament to hope, the treatment Gigi received has become the standard in treating her type of lymphoma. My experience with my grandma cemented into my character the virtue of hope. I understand why the Greeks believe that the Hope will always remain with us because even in our darkest times we continue to hope. Hope is our shining knight in the fight against cancer.

Tehillah E. - Tufts University - Read Essay »

As the hairdresser took her scissors to my very long pony-tail, I started to get nervous. What if I looked awful with short hair? No, I couldn't think of that. This was for Dawn. I wanted her to feel as beautiful as she already was on the inside, especially now that cancer treatments had left her without hair. Many people had responded when I started raising funds for the wig, and now it was my turn to provide the hair. If all went well, the joy of seeing Dawn with a beautiful, more feminine "do" would be worth me missing my long locks. After all, Dawn was my hero. She spent most of her adult life in China, a single woman raising over sixty orphaned children as her own. I got to know her on her semi-regular trips to the States, and she became a dear friend. What an inspiration she was! She had fought cancer, loneliness, culture-shock, and the struggles of motherhood, yet still kept going with love in her heart and a smile on her face! Now, she was coming home indefinitely. The cancer had returned. As you can tell by my use of the past tense, Dawn did not survive this bout of cancer. However, though I have seen several people face the same struggles, Dawn is the best example I know of someone who fought until the last breath and died well. Dawn's first line of attack in fighting her diagnosis was hope. When she came back to the U.S. for medical treatment, she didn't stop investing in other people's lives. Dawn lived out of the truth that there would be a beautiful tomorrow, whether she was there to see it or not. This hope gave her a focus beyond her immediate pain. She wanted to make sure that as many other people as possible would get to see that beautiful tomorrow. So, she worked. She planted a garden at a school, manned a yard-sale fundraiser for her church's youth group, and helped a friend move. She attended every day of an accused friend's week-long criminal trial, and she even had major skull surgery performed just so that she could board a plane to see her kids in China one last time. Dawn's second line of attack was selflessness. She had cancer, but she refused to make the rest of her life about herself, however long or short it might be. In the same way that hope kept her from focusing on the end of her life, selflessness kept her from making decisions purely on the basis of her own comfort. She lived, as she had always done, to share with others the hope that she had found. Dawn kept visiting with people and investing in their lives. Even toward the end, when her conversation was confused because the cancer had made its way to her brain, she looked my father in the eyes and quoted from "Schindler's List" in tears: " "˜One more"¦one more person.' If only I could've brought one more to this hope." Her third line of attack was education. Dawn and her family became knowledgeable about her cancer treatments. When regular treatments failed to work, she allowed doctors to explain an experimental plan, and then she decided to try it. Finally, when that plan failed to help her, she used some natural and herbal remedies her family had read about. Dawn also became educated on the course of the cancer itself. She was not surprised, therefore, when her mental functioning was decreasing, even in the beginning stages when she herself could recognize it. All of this education not only aided in decision-making, but it lowered Dawn's and her family's stress considerably. They were less afraid when a treatment had a certain side-effect or when Dawn developed a new site of pain. They knew what to expect and so could prepare to treat and emotionally deal with new developments. In the end, this education showed Dawn her own limitations as her illness progressed so that she knew which symptoms she could fight and which ones she couldn't. Dawn got to wear the wig for a few months before she passed. It looked amazing on her! She seemed fully ten years younger. I am grateful that I got to be a part of fighting the physical insecurities she may have felt. In the future, however, I want to give more than hair to people I see fighting illnesses. I aspire to go to medical school. The knowledge gained from a medical program will teach me how to engage in others' healing processes. I want to guide people to the knowledge and hope they will need to fight the way that Dawn fought. Sitting at her funeral, I knew that Dawn had battled to live the rest of her life to her utmost ability. All of the people in attendance had a story of how Dawn had impacted them or invested in their lives. Her biggest impact on me was that she called me brave. Thanks to her, I know what bravery really looks like. I want to live the rest of my life with the same hope and selflessness with which she lived the rest of hers.

Tiah C. - Regent University - Read Essay »

Tiah Caviness Regent University Clinical Psychology GPA 3.83 July 29, 2017 What It Takes to Fight Cancer Brace yourself for the hardest fight of your life. Brace yourself for the unknown, the uncertain if you will. Your life is no longer your own it belongs to the fight of cancer. You watch your every breath to make sure that it counts for all it is worth. It takes every ounce of strength to get up each day, but you know you have to fight for your mother's well-being each and every day. My strength now lies in the hope in my mother's eyes. I thought I was preparing myself for the hardest battle of my life, but little did I know this battle took just about everything that I had. My mom's throat was sore and she didn't feel like eating much. She stopped going to the gym because she just didn't feel like it. I encouraged my mom to go to the doctor to see what was going on. I was told that my mother had cancer of the throat and in an impromptu call that my mom would have about 5years to live; as if it was a casual friendly conversation. I couldn't believe the way the doctor spoke to me, so uncaring and matter of fact. I couldn't breathe everything stood still. I couldn't get out of my car; which is where I received the deadly news. I sat for hours in my car trying to process everything. I was the matriarch of the family; I had to make sure everything was done properly so that my mom could become cancer free despite what the nonchalant doctor said to me. The fight was on. A doctor found a small spot on my mother's tongue before it grew; he apologized and said he thought it was food. What good an apology after it has grown beyond a simple repair. My mom had to undergo surgery to put a pump in her vein near her neck, in an effort to make getting blood easier from her, brain surgery to release pressure on the base of her brain where the neck meets as well as a stomach tube. My mom was in this fight with me all the way. I didn't think most days, I just existed and routine was my driving force. I drove to Baptist hospital several times a week to make sure my mother had her chemo and visits with her doctors. It was my life now. I didn't care, I just wanted my mother not to leave me. Unconditional love is something that can never be replaced. What would my life be like? How could I breathe and pick up any pieces that were left? I couldn't dwell on it, I just had to fight. My mother had to be on a feeding machine. I set my alarm for every two hours to make sure my mother had her pain medicine. My mother's pain was so unbearable, yet she went on to put her make up on and make sure she was matching for appointments. There was plenty of doctor's visits as well as stays in the hospital. My mom was a busy body, up cleaning and straightening up as best as she could. I would try to get her to just rest so that she could conserve her strength; when a nurse enlightened on the fact that if my mom felt like getting up and doing something no matter what it is, let her. It was as if a light went off inside of me. I had to let her live the way she wanted. Looking back, I do not understand how I did it; getting up every two hours with little help to make sure my mother had her pain meds and food. I would check her blood pressure and make any adjustment that were needed. There was a time when my mother's blood pressure was getting low; I decided to take her off of her blood pressure medication because it was low enough on it's on. One night I heard a television show on, which she always watched; however, she would turn it before Benny Hinn came on. This time I heard Benny Hinn; I was overwhelmed. I knew things were changing. The next day, I noticed her breathing had slowed, I didn't think I just moved into action calling the paramedics. My mom remained in the hospital in (Wesley Long) instead of Baptist hospital. The doctors told me it was all down hill from here, there were different directives to sign. Pre-burial was done, it hopes that I wouldn't need it for some time. The doctor told me that my mom would go blind and then she would lose her hearing. Chemo had killed all but 20 good blood cells in her body. Till the end I would call my mother's name and she would turn my way. She could hear and loved my voice. I remember how she grabbed me on one occasion when I was giving her medications and said, "I don't know what I would do without you, I love you so much". I felt on top of the world that was the fuel I needed to keep the fight going. I took it upon myself to revive my mother a couple of times, I sung to her. Her sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and friends were all around in the hospital room upon her passing. As soon as her spirit left her body her color came back, a color that I had been missing for some time due to the illness. She was so beautiful. I had so many questions of God. The only thing that gave me so much relief was to know that he needed her more. I had to thank him for sharing her with me for the time that he did. My mom lasted 6 months after her diagnosis, so much for the 5 years the nonchalant doctor told me on the phone. My brother was in a bad accident while my mother was fighting at the end. She could tell something was going on with her son, but I felt it best not to tell her the extent of things. My brother was on life support in another hospital from a motorcycle accident. He was not expected to live. I was going from one hospital to another almost daily. I had to keep fighting. My brother, after two weeks on life support and an even longer recovery, learning to walk, talk as well as comprehend all over again. My brother was found wondering the hospital floors asking for his mother on the night she passed away. My fight with cancer doesn't end here. I lost two more aunts, my mom's sister's within a year after my mom's death. Two more aunts were stricken with breast cancer the following year, I was grateful that they survived. Getting through the pain of losing my mother and aunts was devastating, however, I was still fighting. My heart was broken into a million pieces. It hurt me so much, for so long I couldn't remember how my mother looked before she was sick. How could I do that? What was wrong with me? I was always a straight A student. I had to put myself back into my education. I have to advocate for others going through this fight, this horrendous battle until the bitter end. I have always been the go to person for help and guidance; I want to share that with others through my education. For me my strength lies in my education. My education is the reason I get up each day and attempt to put the pieces of my life back together. I am still fighting the fight of cancer and the devastation that it left in its wake. It was so hard to get up and start my day but I knew that I had to. I had to do for my mother, those who have lost loved ones from cancer and those who continue to celebrate their survival of cancer. It is not an easy battle. There is no color, race or gender that it effects; it knows no restrictions and doesn't mind crossing all barriers. I am still fighting this battle, it hasn't gotten any easier. It feels like yesterday, still fighting and trying hard to get back to me. My life has undertaken a devastating blow. It seemed like one catastrophic event after another. How much loss can one person take? Cancer has told me to keep fighting the fight and to help others along the way. I am including a before and after picture of my beloved mother during her fight. **Note the pictures that I placed at end of Essay will not copy over, if there is an email I can copy and paste to that would be great.

Isidro V. - Kent State University - Read Essay »

What it Takes to Fight Cancer? Isidro Villa July 29, 2017 Growing up, you're asked numerous times about your greatest fears, and we tend to reply with spiders or the dark. Those things are pretty scary but, losing my grandmother, the woman that raised me, introduced a whole new meaning of fear. My grandmother had worked for a company that made breaks with asbestos for about 11 years in her early age. She never showed signs of any health issues until March of 2016. At the age of 61, she started to experience health issues, particularly with her lungs. We were in and out of the hospital looking for answers that didn't come until July 29, 2016. Right before my senior year, my grandmother was diagnosed with stage four terminal lung cancer. On that day, I met a demon named cancer, which showed me the true meaning of fear. The doctors gave us the choice of providing my grandma five months without treatment, or a couple years on chemotherapy. They implemented us to prepare for a funeral. I asked myself, "how do I prepare mentally or physically to bury the woman that gave my life light and purpose?" My grandfather quit his job and took out his savings; we left Cleveland to tell the rest of the family in Chicago. There, we made the decision of where the treatment was going to take place. My grandmother had a total of eight kids, four girls and four boys. A close family that would sell their souls for their mother. Her choice was to return to Mexico and receive her treatment in one of Mexico's best known cancer facilities. The certain kind of treatment needed for my grandma would cost the family ten grand a month. But, what's that in comparison to her life? That type of money wasn't easy to come up with no matter how many of us there was. Everyone in the immediate family that was old enough to work had to contribute. Never complaining about the cost, just praying it would be enough to save my grandmother, everyone did their fair part. The hardest challenge for me was trying to finish my education and maintain a job while my grandmother was thousands of miles away in Mexico. I had lived with my grandmother since before I could remember, and not having her in the house made it seem so lonely. My family always called me the 9th sibling because of the bond we shared. She taught me my first words, even potty trained me! To this day, I still open the front door with hope that she will be waiting for me like before. I would always debate if I should drop out of school and run to her arms in Mexico, at least to enjoy the last memories we could make. The school year was coming to an end, which meant it was time to choose a college. I was holding on to the idea that my grandma would make it to my graduation; that I would look out into the cheering crowd and see her clapping and screaming my name. I know my grandma is looking down with a smile on her face because she raised a well-educated Latino male who will be studying architecture at Kent State University. Education is something that is taken for granted in America, but, my grandmother always pushed me to continue my studies no matter what the field of study was. It didn't matter the obstacle set before me. She would use herself as an example, saying she didn't want me living paycheck to paycheck, and wanted a better future for me than what she had. Education plays a major role in cancer because not much is known about the disease, which requires more students willing to make new discoveries in the field that may eventually lead to the cure we all desperately need. All types of education is important in the world of technology, where it's not as simple to get a job like the old days. Jobs are requiring more qualified workers that call for more schooling and degrees. Education is the gateway out of poverty and into a whole new world. Staying focused on your books and education will always be beneficial. Who knows what doors education may open for you? The fight against cancer is like a street fight where no rules apply; a fight to the end where only one can be victorious. Cancer not only attacks the individual, but it's like a wild fire that destroys everything in its path. It takes extreme mental strength for the affected victim, knowing you only have a few months to live, as well as for family members knowing they may potentially lose a loved one. Having physical strength comes into play when doctor visits start and you're by your loved one's side 24/7, knowing you wouldn't leave them no matter how tired you are. The financial tolls also put a great amount of stress on the patient and family. Insurance only covers so much, leaving the family to come up with the rest of the money. But, you're missing too much time from work and the money just doesn't add up. Over time, all these variables begin; destroying families and arguing about money to the estimated time left being given. Cancer forces you contemplate what is truly important in life, which can mean giving up social lives and other things to make sure you focus on the important things like school, work, and loved ones. You learn to value every moment not knowing which may be your last as a family. I lost my grandmother 24 days before my 18 birthday, 32 days before my senior prom, 42 days before my National Honor Society induction ceremony and most importantly, 53 days before I walked the stage, graduating top 10 in my senior class.

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

Chantelle B. - Southern Adventist University in Tennessee - Read Essay »

What it takes to fight cancer? About 6 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with skin cancer, melanoma stage 3. One day she had just a regular doctor's appointment for her regular physical and her doctor as she was being very thorough, noticed on her hip a mole. Immediately she referred her to a skin specialist. Thank God for those doctors who take their time to really save lives. My father says that in the old days doctors used to ask, "where does it hurt?" and today the question they ask is "do you have insurance? I am so thankful for those doctors that still care for people. When the skin specialist ran some tests, immediately he alerted my mom that surgery needed to take place as soon as possible. At that point, everything stopped in our lives. Doctors have a way to say things that makes your world collapse, but then, not even they know for sure the outcome. They give you a percentage of risk, they also tell you they "hope" they can remove it all, if not, they need to operate again, but nothing is guaranteed. School stopped for my younger sister and I, work stopped for my parents. Church members starter praying for mom and all of us. We started praying like never before for a miracle. God was always there for us. My mom was anointed with oil which is a religious ceremony for healing. My elementary schoolmates prayed, my teachers prayed, my parents co-workers prayed. We made new friends, who were putting themselves to our disposition for anything we needed. We Thanked everyone who was so graciously willing to be a part of our lives, and I could see in their faces their sincerity and the pain they were baring. Relatives all around the globe praying for us. Everything stopped. I was in fear of loosing my mother, who was my best friend and still is. She has done everything for me, and I could not do anything for her? It was devastating in my mind just to think that she was going to die and there was nothing I could do. Just the thought that soon she was going to be just a memory of the past. A memory of good times in my short years. What it takes to fight cancer? it takes it all. At that time, I felt that my life was suctioned by this force of fear. My heart was beating hard and I could not control it. My father called every uncle and cousin doctors for advise and guidance. We had second and third opinions as to what to do and what not to do. I know I was not the only one in this world that has gone through that and is going through that, but at that time I felt alone. My world was collapsing and I was just waiting for the punch. I was raised Christian, and I believe God is always in control and He knows what is best for us. God did not create sickness, death, diseases and so forth, the devil did. I spent hours on my knees begging God for my mom's life, but I also told Him whatever His will is, I would accept it. Those are the harder words I have pronounced. But I also believed that there is nothing impossible for God to do. All I needed was trust in Him. The day of the surgery came and we had to be there early morning for mom to be prepared for surgery. When we got there, many people already there in the hospital waiting for us to pray prior to mom being submitted. We all had tears and we felt loved by so many people. A big circle of family and friends surrounding us, embracing us, and praying to my God, the Creator of all for His will. Surgery was a success that day, but we needed to wait a few days for pathology results and more tests weeks later to see if all cancer had been removed. A big chunk of skin was removed from my mom's side by the ribs leaving a big scar. The results were on our favor, she was cancer free. We sang, we prayed, friends and family gathered again and we praised God individually and collectively for His mercy and love. What it takes to fight cancer? It takes it all. It takes your time, it takes your money, it takes your dreams, it takes your sleep, it takes your life, and we were willing to give it all and more for mom's life. We sacrificed it all for a good cause. It reminds me of Jesus, He gave it all for you and me. My mom is now in remission and we continue praying that she remains as though. We pray to God daily. Here is a picture of us. I graduated this last May 2017 from Campion Academy with high honors. I was chosen as Valedictorian with the highest GPA in the school, 4.20. My parents brag about it, I only thank God that He allows me to reach this far to continue my studies of medicine. I am so thankful that my mom still with us and was at my graduation. I continue hoping that she will be there for my wedding although I have no plans yet, neither a boyfriend. That is my dad and my younger sister. I am currently enrolled in the pre-med program at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. I am taking a Smart Start program this summer taking Biology in 5 weeks prior to school start. I want to prepare myself and be ready to help anyone with this disease that has not respect for social class, gender or age. I also want to be ready to help my family when it strikes again. As you can see, Cancer takes it all, but God can defeat it. Chantelle Danielle Bravatti

Meagan D. - Xavier University of Louisiana - Read Essay »

Meagan K. Davis Environmental Litigation Group, P.C Essay 26 July 2017 Everything, everything What it takes to fight cancer. The obvious answer is everything. It takes strength, and hope, and support. It takes will, and faith, and confidence. But on the other end, it takes these things away too. It takes away loved ones, and happiness, and fun. It takes away walks to school, and games, and memories. It takes everything. It was my grandfather, my dad's dad, and yes, I said was. He was kind, and giving, and Papa. He took us in when we were homeless and gave the best Christmas gifts. He was an Army man and the first to go to college in his family. Even with all this in mind, I don't have any memories of him when he wasn't sick. Isn't that a shame. My sister and I were watching Powerpuff Girls and I ran upstairs to see him. When I reach him, he's getting sick in the trashcan and the EMT's knock on the door. There's flashes of memories with him sharing Boost weight gain drinks with us. Strawberry was my favorite. Then there's memories of him in the hospital, and me refusing to go see him. One-by-one friends and family visited him, but I just couldn't get the will to walk in. On the last day at the hospital, my mom held my hand and walked me in together. I stood as far away from him as possible. He was bald and for some reason I remember his mouth being open the entire time, probably because he just couldn't catch his breath. I finally walked up and he asks, "How are you?", I responded, "Good". That's it, that's what I remember. A week later my mom takes me out of class to tell me he was gone. She said he had been waiting on me, just to make sure I was alright. Of course, I wasn't alright, but that's what I told him, so now he's gone. So, to answer the question, "what it takes to fight cancer", it takes innocence. It's a wakeup call to a nine-year-old that death is not a theory. Life hits you right in the gut and tells you that superheroes aren't real, because you thought Papa was one, but even he couldn't defeat the darkness. It takes clear-headedness. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why I told him I was "good". If I had told him the truth, that I was scared and confused, maybe he would still be here. It takes trust. Trust on everything, my parents, society, God. I never knew what was going on, not once. I thought he was sick and once he got over it, we could play again. I never knew my dad could cry. I never knew that cancer could destroy life. I never knew that pain like that could exist. But it does and it did then too. If there is anything you get from this essay, get this; explain to your kids what is happening. I held so much anger for so many years because I believed that somebody could have changed something, specifically, that I could have changed something. Tell children that symptoms will happen, and hospitals aren't that scary, and dying is a real thing, but to never let it hold them down. Tell your kids that superheroes do exist, and the sequel is them. Jeez, who knew writing a scholarship essay would be therapy. Would help me write what I could never say. Would short-out my laptop from tears. It takes everything to fight cancer, but it doesn't have to take everything.

Megan V. - University of Wisconsin-Stout - Read Essay »

The summer before I started my freshman year of college, my dad, Gerhardt, was having some stomach pains. Fast forward to the end of the summer, after conducting numerous tests we found out that he had Lymphoma. Luckily, the doctors caught it before it had time to start spreading. Within the week they started radiation. After the treatment was done the doctors found that the cancer was spreading through his body and growing in size, our only option was to begin chemotherapy. My family was able to get me all packed up and moved into my college dorm and about a week later, my dad's treatments started. For the first few treatments my dad was able to go home but as the doses continued to increase he was staying at the hospital longer and longer. To see him whenever I came home I would have to visit him in the hospital. It was extremely hard on my whole family to do this. Instead of coming home and relaxing, I would help to clean the house, make meals for my family, and just do whatever I could to make it easier on my mom and brother who were at home. I would visit my dad every day on the weekends that I was home and would get picked up by a family member or friend from the hospital to be taken back to school. I remember the first time I got back after one of those visits home and how the next week I got a call from my mom saying my dad was being rushed to the emergency room because of a huge spike in temperature and some other things that were going wrong. He had so many things going into his body that he needed two of the stands to hold all of the IV's. That night I learned who my true friends were, because they stayed with me the whole night and helped me to laugh and just get through the night. After a few more close calls, many more trips home, and two years later my dad is in remission and doing very well. He still gets very tired very easily and is always cold, which has caused some arguments over the thermostat, but he is home and overall healthy and happy. This fight took a lot out of him, but it really showed us who are true friends and family are. My brother plays both basketball and baseball, while my mom is very dedicated to helping out at our church. Families from the two teams and people from the church would call and talk to us and many would bring by food for super or even a dessert, so that it took some of the burden off of my mom to try and make something every night. Friends and family would stop by at the hospital all the time even if it was for just ten minutes. One of my dad's oldest friends from high school, flew from California to Minnesota to see him. I think all of this newfound support for him really helped him win the fight against cancer. It helped him to restore his religious faith when he saw all these people sending their prayers and love to him. And it just really helped him to keep fighting even on the days when it would have been easy to give up. I believe that it takes a lot to fight cancer, but without these people he would not have been able to do it. This past semester I took a class for my major about stress assessment and techniques to decrease stress in your life. One of the big things that I learned about was art and music therapy. A lot of the time art therapists will have cancer patients draw them beating cancer as a way to increase the patients motivation to fight and to show them that they can do it. I know that the doctors did everything that they could to help my dad and that it just took some time to make it work, but I wish that I would have known about this type of treatment before and maybe helped my dad work through some of the things he was going through by using art therapy. This is why I think education in cancer is very important not just to attack the cancer with medicine but also to attack it with other sources like art therapy and even some herbal supplements. One of our family friends husband, is going through chemotherapy and she is really pushing the herbal supplements and just eating extremely healthy. Her husband used to drink about ten cans of pop a day and she has limited him to one or zero a day. She makes him a lot of fruit and vegetable smoothies and has cut red meat almost completely out of their diet. I understand that doctors are weary of using herbal and natural remedies, but I think more studies and then classes should be taught on them as a way to help with the cancer treatment because, when you are fighting for your life you want anything that could help on your side. Overall, I have learned so much during this experience, about myself, friends, and family that even though this was a horrible thing that happened, that after everything we grew so much closer as a family and learned who is actually going to be there for us when we need help. Also, we learned that we are so much stronger together than we are apart. I believe that we need to continue education of cancer treatment and that because every case is different that you need to be prepared for anything.

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.

Justin 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?

Alexis M. - Saginaw Valley State University - Read Essay »

Alexis Michael 8096 Edward, Center Line, MI 48015 alxmch@gmail.com WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO FIGHT CANCER? The question seems simple "what does it take to fight cancer?" ---the answer is complex, because the answer is everything. In February of 2006 I was a kindergartner, and my father was the center of my world. He was a stay at home dad who was always there. He dropped me off at school, and would always be there to pick me up with my little brother in tow. In the evenings, he would make dinner, clean up and play with us. After a full day of being a dad, he would go to his evening college classes, and because we only had one car, my mom would drop him off. I remember my mom was taking him to school, but wanted him to stop by the doctors first. He hadn't been feeling well. That is when cancer interrupted my life, and greedily began to take from us. In 2006, cancer began to take my family. My dad was sent directly to the hospital from the doctor's office, and we were in shock when the diagnosis of leukemia came the next day. He had to stay in the hospital for about a week, and began chemotherapy. This was hard for me, because in my entire life, it was the first time I had ever been away from him. His diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) left him weak, and depressed. He was tired, irritable and testy. The man with the infinite patience and jovial sense of humor was gone. My mom became his caregiver at the expense of her own health, and my brother and I retreated from our family. Despite the cracks forming in my family, we pushed forward through the endless daily bouts of vomiting, seasonal bone marrow biopsies and countless doctor's appointments. In 2010 cancer took my home. My mom said she had to choose between the mortgage or food and medicine. She chose the latter. My parents began to feel the strain of the mounting medical bills, and we lost our house. With my dad sick not working, and my mom's pay frozen, the financial burden was too much. We moved into a home that was about half the size, and needed twice the work to be livable. My family's fight with cancer took time, patience, our happy family, and our home. In 2012, cancer took a back seat to hope. Our family's fight finally found its miracle moment. Eventually my dad did find the right medical team and his CML was kicked into something called a "chemical remission" - as long as he continues to take his medication, his body and bone marrow will cooperate, and keep him reasonably healthy. My parents filed for bankruptcy, and although the process was yet another series of endless appointments, this one offered my parents a fresh financial start. My brother and I started having issues at school, but as a result, the whole family started going to therapy, and we are working to resolve our issues. My family's fight with cancer took determination, grit, ingenuity and help. So the simple question of "What does it take to fight cancer?" has no easy answer because it took everything from us; cancer took every comfort, every bit of resolve, and every ounce of creativity from the medical professionals. Fighting cancer is not for the faint of heart. It's ugly and messy and demoralizing. But in the middle of this fight, I found strength and perseverance and maturity. My only regret is not recruiting help for the fight sooner. I feel we were intellectually capable of navigating the medical stuff, but the emotional toll was very step, and we were totally unprepared for that. This experience could have been made easier by counseling earlier. I feel that the sole focus of the doctors and the medical teams was always my dad - which is understandable, but there needs to be a psychologist on these teams, too. Families need to be educated on the emotional toll this devastating disease can take, and should be a standard part of treatment for all cancer patients and their families. That mental health professional could help families cope with this enormous emotional upheaval, and hopefully do so before the family cracks. Here, in 2017 we are moving forward, and I have been inspired by this fight to major in biochemistry, so that one day I can be in the front lines of fighting cancer, again. Education is one of the strongest weapons in the fight against cancer. The medicine my dad takes to keep his cancer in check was tested, developed and finally received FDA approval for the treatment of CML in 2005. I have never gotten over that coincidence - it always felt like my dad was meant to survive this, and those tireless researchers who were inspired to create this drug were able to do so because of their extensive educations.

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.

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.

Susan B. - Regent University online - Read Essay »

WHAT IT TAKES TO FIGHT CANCER KNOWLEDGE! Knowledge is power. As a young adult I knew at some point that I would have to likely deal with the death of a parent or very close family member. What I could not know was the circumstances that I would have to do this under. When someone you know gets cancer, the news of such a disease is devastating all by itself, and to be able to do nothing but to sit, talk, learn and anxiously await every result of every test can be "nerve-racking", to say the least. As we grow we gain knowledge, we learn through all the trials and tribulations life throws at us. Remembering and exhibiting the awesomeness of humanity is something that we should never get tired of sharing. I could talk in depth about close family members that I have had to say goodbye to because of cancer: my grandfather, my brother and my stepmother. I could tell you all about each loved one, their specific details and all three struck with and dying from 3 different cancers (colon, prostate and lung cancer). I am sure I could spend hours discussing the stress, the side effects, the drugs, the fatigue, the treatments, the nausea etc. but I would like to tell you about another aspect that is equally as important as medical treatment. There is an undeniable link between a person's attitude and the wellness of their whole being. I have learned over the years through work and social settings that people want to be associated with and relate to others that can understand what they are feeling. After saying goodbye to three close family members, I then had to start my own journey with a disease that significantly raised my risk of colon cancer. I was fortunate in the fact that modern medicine was able to stop the disease from getting worse. Almost as devastating as cancer, Ulcerative colitis has COMPLETELY changed my life. I now find myself switching gears at a time when I should be starting to fine tune my retirement plan rather than discovering that I would instead have to start over. A string of circumstances has put me in a life position of re-educating myself to be able to work and continue to support myself around managing my Colitis. This means the best case scenario is to go back to school and get some training to do something other than working with the public directly, face to face, as I have done all my working years. It came on at an age that was "unusual" for this disease, it came on quick and was stubborn to get under control. It "IS" a daily battle to keep it "manageable." One very important key that I have learned through my journey is that most people will have a better chance at recovery if their mental and emotional integrity can be kept in-tact. I have a natural ability to get people to relax and open up to talk, something I didn't quite understand as a teen. I can tell you from personal experience when people talk they feel better, when people feel better, their mood is more positive, they begin to hope, they are also willing to open up and talk about what will happen to them if all else fails. The main objective here is to let the other person know that no matter what they go through they do not have to do it alone. I was there for my family members talking, keeping them engaged in and wanting life. Awareness, same as knowledge, but I believe that knowledge is something that is gained and awareness is something that is shared. Which brings me to counseling, at some point in our lives we need someone that we can be relaxed around and talk to without worrying about it being used against us or spread around for that week's rumors. As I said, I have a natural ability in that area and have always been more sensitive to others needs as they open up and talk to me. Betraying their trust is the same as betraying myself. It matters! As such, now that I find myself needing to re-educate I would like to start my journey with a two year business degree and follow that up with a degree that would allow me to put my natural talent toward making a living- counseling. I believe that in today's tech world people reach out in many different ways and times of the day or night. In this world of so many social venues, and online crisis lines more and more people are reaching out to talk to someone that can understand their fight and encourage them to keep fighting, they are not alone, others are fighting as well, and many with success stories that would make anyone's eyes water, because they beat the odds. The power of the human spirit is the one thing the medical doctors cannot fix with a script, and in many ways, it is a bigger role the counselor plays in getting the patient and family back to a place where they have hope and a mission to focus on rather than the impending loss. I can also tell you from personal experience that when my brother was in his last days, there was a conversation I had with my dad about what he could do for his own son. There was really nothing anyone could do, but I encouraged Dad to take a week off work and go to him (FL to MI) just sit and spend some time - talking! He did take that time and did spend it with his son, sitting and talking, not being able to have control over anything else, when he was gone, my dad was at a better peace because of the time he spent - just talking. A peace we would both need for others sooner than we thought.

Claire P. - University and Albany, SUNY - Read Essay »

I had just graduated with a bachelor's degree and had high hopes to continue my education on to medical school, when I received the call from my mother. She told me that I needed to move nearly 400 miles home to help take care of my grandmother, she had a feeling something was wrong with her health. The typhoid survivor, mother of three, grandmother of nine, warrior, had dropped down to 85 pounds and was rapidly declining, with no warning. I knew I had to be strong for my mother who was fearful of losing a second parent. It was a simple trip to the doctor when she passed out, which ended up saving her life. The emergency room trip found a tumor the size of a lemon in her bladder, which was the tip of the iceberg that was about to rock our worlds. In surgery, doctors removed her uterus, bladder, ovaries, and 25 lymph nodes that had been ravaged by cancer. In a twist of fate, grandma was our rock and lifted everyone's spirits with her pushing-the-envelope humor and fighting attitude. She passed on the chemo therapy and decided to move home to recover and live the life she was used to, without medicine. When she returned to our house and began to get back into her daily routine, walking 5 miles a day at 83 years old, the family was able to finally take a sigh of relief. This was when I was finally able to listen to my own body which I had neglected. If this experience had shown me anything, it was that I needed to keep up with preventative doctor's appointments myself. I found out that I had stage two cervical cancer as well as profound endometriosis. I adopted my grandmother's outlook on terrible and scary situations, making a conscious effort to see the sunny side. Her and I joked together that we spent so much time together for those 6 months that I caught her cancer. Even though we knew it wasn't possible, it was fun to smile. 14 surgeries and a master's degree later, I am pursuing my doctorate degree in environmental health sciences and hope to change the lives of millions of people around the world with my education. I believe that education, whether it be a college degree or an educational course at a local rec center, is invaluable in the fight against cancer. Preventative cares, such as mammograms and pap smears, should be encouraged and explained to the masses, getting to the root of why it is in their best interest. I plan to encourage people in ways to help them stay healthy and how they can listen to their own bodies to return to wellness. My degree interests are focused on clean water systems in third world countries, hoping that with the reduction of heavy metals, microorganisms, and contaminants that the world at large may see a drop in cancer incidence, taking a step toward whole body wellness. Cancer has taught me that it doesn't matter who you are, where you live, how wealthy you are, or how high your education level is, cancer can touch, and has touched billions of lives throughout the world, and it is finally the time to beat out cancer, together.

Helena M. - Corban University (Salem, OR) - Read Essay »

The C word. That's what my family called it for the first month. Our tongues couldn't seem to put the two syllables "can-cer" together. So instead we would say the C word. Soon the C word turned to five syllables. Chemotherapy. Because that's what they told us it took to fight the cancer. A medicine the nurses chose to refer to as "The Red Devil." First her appetite. Not even a fountain Pepsi from Casey's General Store piqued her interest. I know you're not hungry, but Marsha you've gotta eat, hun. You've gotta eat is what Nurse Jan would tell her. Next her energy. Then the feeling in her fingers and her feet. Mom, please wait for me, I'll help you walk down the stairs. Please, one second. Finally, the hair. Her ears were always cold. When she wasn't feeling self-conscious, she would spontaneously whip off her head scarf in public to freak out the innocent by standers milling around us. The mischievous grin that would find her lips in those moments spread to those around her faster than any metastatic breast cancer ever could. Chemotherapy seemed to fight a lot of things, but I'm not sure cancer was one of them. Next, radiation. That's the next thing they told us it would take to fight the cancer. A giant, itchy sunburn is what mom called it. Every day. 9am. On the dot. While she changed into a hospital gown and thoroughly removed any spec of metal, I would check the progress made on the puzzle. Just where'd I'd left it the previous morning, only now an entire edge had been pieced together by another daughter waiting for her mom to get better. Community. I never met my fellow puzzle enthusiasts. But every day at 9am, each new piece that had been added in the last 24 hours by someone else waiting for their family or friend to get better said to me "I get it. I'm waiting, too. Piece by piece, we'll keep fighting." You need community to fight cancer. For a while, chemotherapy and radiation was what it took to fight cancer. For a while. Then in October, the C word didn't seem so scary anymore. Not when you put the H word next to it. Hospice. What hospice really means is hopeless. We don't know what it takes to fight cancer anymore. Our medicine won't work. One year. Family. It takes family to fight cancer. It takes sons driving from Wyoming and Texas in one day and daughters flying from Oregon to your farmhouse in Illinois to say "You are worth it. Keep. Fighting. We're with you." It takes friends. It takes friends paying for those plane tickets and bringing meals (no matter how hard you resist their sacrifice), friends sending texts and phone calls. We're praying. It takes tears. So many tears to fight cancer. To cry when you no longer can tell your fingers or toes what to do. Tears when showering takes a team of four nurses and going outside has to be scheduled days in advanced. It takes laughter. So so so much laughter. Laughter when your daughter misses your mouth and instead spills cranberry juice down your front because you no longer can feed yourself. Laughter when your 9 month old grandson decides, no, this is not a hospital bed. This is my jungle gym. And I'll be darned if I don't climb it as so. Laughter at memories, mishaps, and family stories alike. My momma's sweet smile. Yes, it definitely takes laughter to fight cancer. & finally it takes faith to fight cancer. Baby girl. This is so scary. So hard. I'm so sorry. But Helena. I get to meet Jesus soon. Oh momma how were you so strong? I lost my mom on October 26, 2016 to Stage 1 Breast Cancer after a year of battling. I spent the remainder of the Fall semester of my Junior year home with my dad in Springfield, Illinois. For two months, I waffled back and forth between staying home with my dad in Illinois or returning to Corban University the following Spring semester. Returning to studying Exercise Science, running Track and Field for the Warriors, and my position as a Vice President on the Student Government Cabinet. Momma, how am I supposed to go back? Everything is so different, you're not here? Who am I going to call when I'm overwhelmed? Who will I celebrate my 5K PR's (Personal Records) with? Who will encourage me when I feel inadequate when leading my Student Government branch? You...you are why I am who I am and why I am where I am. Exactly. My mom showed me what it takes to fight cancer. But she also showed me what it takes to keep fighting once cancer makes its mark. She is why I am who I am and why I am where I am. So I keep fighting. I returned to Corban University in the Spring of 2017 to complete my Junior year. I returned to studying Exercise Science to pursue a career in Nutrition. I slowly but surely picked running back up with Corban's Track & Field team. I resumed my position as Corban's ASB Vice President of Student Initiatives & Endeavors, to later that semester be elected as the 2017-2018 Corban ASB President for my Senior year of college. Cancer sucks. My life is different. Cancer has shown me a side of life that I pray few others must experience. But cancer also brought out a strength and fight in my sweet momma and father that I pray I can find even a spec of in my own heart. College won't solve all of my problems. My education won't erase the mark cancer has left on my life or replace what it's taken from my family. But I know I have to keep going, studying and doing what I love. Striving to be as strong as my momma. Baby girl, you are so much stronger than you know. Two blog posts about my mother's fight with cancer: https://theadventuresofhelenarose.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/the-question-remains/ https://theadventuresofhelenarose.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/fifty-two/ (I apologize for entering twice, I did not receive any sort of confirmation that my original application was received and wanted to ensure my application went through.)

Kaitlyn C. - West Virginia University - Read Essay »

I choose to remember my grandmother at her best: a professional lady, with coiffed, reddish-brown hair, a simple, elegant face of makeup, and a friendly smile. Although she was technically my grandmother, she was more like a mother to me. Unfortunately, however, she was battling breast cancer for almost the entirety of our time together. This means I also have very poor memories of my grandmother. I remember watching this remarkable woman completely transform into someone I did not know. Towards the end of her life, there was no more hiding her frailty. She gave up on her wigs, and could no longer leave the house for much of anything. Emotionally, she was always on edge; even a slight slip in tone could absolutely crush her. On some days she was completely out of it, to the point where my father would tell me I should avoid calling. My grandmother always loved chocolate; food in general, really, but she absolutely adored chocolate. When she was transferred to a Hospice facility after having an unresponsive incident, my family packed into our car and headed over. Being that her appetite had diminished to almost nothing, my mother suggested that I pick her a cupcake from the cafeteria in order to maybe sway her to eat something. The cupcakes were delectable, made from scratch at a local bakery. I, feeling that I knew my grandmother, chose a chocolate cupcake on instinct. When it was delivered to her, she could not have been less interested. She did not want chocolate, she said. It seems so stupid, but that moment was really crushing. It is because it was then that I really knew she was gone. I knew because of a cupcake. You ask me what it takes to fight cancer, and I will tell you I have no idea. I can tell you, however, that whatever it is, I do not have it. No even a year after my grandmother passed, I had a cancer scare of my own; I was fourteen. I have never felt such utter hopelessness. I felt myself giving up before I even had a diagnosis. After the fact, I struggled with my mental health. I could near bear to face the morbid reality that is cancer, especially at such a young age. It is tricky, being the one that is sick. Losing my grandmother was devastating, but thinking that I may fall victim to the same disease at only fourteen was almost unbearable. Not only did I have to mourn the loss of my own life, but I had to somehow cope with the fact that I was causing grief for my family. My grandmother always used to say that cancer took everything from her, emotionally. She said that she was so numb that she did not even cry when her own father died. When she said this to me it was incomprehensible. After my own cancer scare, it felt real. For months, I felt completely numb. I did not know how to cope with what had happened to me. They say that when you are young you think you are invincible, and I can tell you that to an extent this is true. Facing my own mortality was the hardest thing I have ever done, and it is still the greatest burden I carry. Cancer has touched my life in multiple ways, and thus it is the root of several of my values. I no longer take my life for granted; doing so prior to my cancer scare is my biggest regret. I have learned to take life by the horns, and since then things have been pretty blissful. I cannot stress the importance of being educated about cancer enough. Not only can being educated aid in early detection, but it can also help patients stay informed during the treatment process. Unfortunately, some health care providers fail to properly educate patients, and thus this results in some cases where patients are taken advantage of. Additionally, education furthers our technology and understanding of cancer, which is imperative when working towards a cure or more specialized treatment. Although I do not plan to use my education to aid in the fight against cancer, I will always be an advocate for cancer research. I also take care to share my story regarding the impact cancer has had on my life. I want to help others to understand how fortunate they are while simultaneously spreading awareness. For me, that will suffice.

Gift N. - Claflin University - Read Essay »

I spent 20 years of my life in Nigeria before I came to study in the United States. Back home, I watched a lot of people battle various diseases, but none of it was as terrifying as watching my mother battle pancreatic cancer for 3 years. In August 2006, My mother woke up one morning and started complaining of stomach pain. Nevertheless, nobody took her seriously because we go through that almost every day of our lives. She went to different doctors in Nigeria who prescribed different medicine for her since the tests showed nothing was wrong with her. After 2 years, she had a surgery, and it was then that the doctors figured out she had stage 2 cancer. She could not retain food or drink in her system within this period of time. My mother was a teacher at my high school, so every morning, I will dress her up after she showers, clean up her vomit and our restroom and prepare a meal for her before going to school. I gave up at a point because she was not getting any better and I wanted my two younger sisters to help out. My mother could not quit her job because she was the bread winner. Instead, she chose to be the school accountant just so she could be able to pay our school fees and bills. Everything in my family fell apart because my mother who used to be the strength of our family became the burden. In April 2009, my uncle paid for her treatment in South Africa, but then, the cancer had already metastasized. She dies on June 2009, same year I graduated from high school. After my high school graduation, it was clear to me that I wanted to participate in the research of the deadly diseases that are cropping up in the world. I had no idea my mother had cancer until she died. My father kept that information from us because he wanted to protect us. She was the first in my family to be diagnosed with cancer, so nobody truly knew what was wrong with her until it was too late. She died even before her treatment started. I wished we were educated on the symptoms of cancer, she would have had more years to live with good diet and treatment. It was my first time knowledge of cancer ever, so I decided that I would study cancer if I ever get the opportunity in college. Today, I have Bachelor's degree in biochemistry and I got admitted to Claflin University's Biotechnology master's program. As a child, I wanted to be a medical doctor because I watched then treat patients and help them get better, but they could not help my mother at the critical stage of her illness. I lost her at 16 to cancer after a horrifying 3 years. One thing she kept telling us was "I will not die, I'll watch all my children go to college and graduate". My aunt that was at her bed before she passed, told us that she held on all those years just so that she could take care of her 4 children. I need assistance with my tuition in the fall, because my family cannot afford my tuition. I got scholarships during my bachelor's degree, although I almost quit in my sophomore year because I was depressed, for the fact that I am the only one here in United states. The rest of my family are in Nigeria looking up to me for a change and brighter future. I got through college because I knew that my mother would do the same if she were in my shoes. As long as she lived, nothing stopped her from taking care of her family, not even pancreatic cancer. I am applying for this scholarship because it will help a great deal toward my studies. I intend pursing this biotechnology degree even as further as PhD, as long as there are diseases to study. There is a saying that "Knowledge is power" but "Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and constantly increased or it vanishes".

Nicolle H. - Fordham Law SChool - Read Essay »

Nicolle Heagney, Environmental Litigation Group 2017 Scholarship Program I have lived, on the surface, what appears to be a very normal life. Just looking at my family, you wouldn't think there is, or was, anything wrong. However, growing up in my household has given me experiences that make me different, and have given me a keen sense of the struggles people with cancer "and their families" go through each day. As a little girl, I remember driving with my father past Stony Brook Hospital every now and then. He would always mention about how he hated the place so much after spending so much time there with nearly every member of his immediate family struggling with cancer (read: my grandfather, my grandmother, and my uncle). When I was young I didn't think anything of this, but as I got older I became more inquisitive. After all, the word "cancer" certainly sounds scary. He never tried to hide what he had gone through, and openly discussed with me the struggles with cancer he and his family had faced. In fact, everybody he had known and loved who had been diagnosed with cancer later died from it. My father is a wonderful man, my best friend, and would do anything for me and for our family. This is what made it so hard for us when he told us that he, like his father, mother, and brother, was diagnosed with cancer as well. Luckily he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in an early stage. The doctors were able to give him radiation and medication, and he is alive today to tell the tale. He didn't have to die like his family members. However, his loss of bladder and bowel control and sexual function (we never really spoke about this, but I'm sure it's something he must struggle with given my research on the subject) only worsened his already-present depression and OCD. Just the other day he had an accident in my brother's car. My brother was angry and I could tell my dad was extremely embarrassed "this was simply heartbreaking. I think one of the things that is oftentimes overlooked regarding people struggling with cancer is its effect on their other pre-existing conditions, if any. In my father's case, he had been struggling with mental illness ever since he was a young boy. Now add the stress, fear, and embarrassment of his diagnosis and we have a whole different ball game. As time went on, my father's nervous habits as a result of his OCD became strikingly clearer: the pacing, the going in and out of doors several times as a ritual, the incessant tapping of fingers. Now, almost every time he leaves the house he "forgets" something behind. (I believe coming back in the house before leaving is some type of ritual he must perform.) Even though my dad is "in the clear" at this time regarding his diagnosis (he goes yearly to get his PSA levels checked), his moods have started to get worse in winter when it's dark all the time. We sometimes have to leave events or family parties because he is feeling "uptight." To be honest, it's hard trying to balance being angry with him for these things and feeling sorry for him at the same time. Clearly dealing with not only the cancer but the effects it had on other aspects of my father's life is difficult not only on him, but on the family. Even though I was feeling sad I didn't want to burden my mother - who had been burdened for the past thirty years with his mental illness and now with the financial repercussions of his cancer - and I couldn't burden my younger brother because I was supposed to be the strong one, his protector. I couldn't talk about it with my friends, not because I was embarrassed, but because they just wouldn't understand the mental illness part. It's been a constant struggle not to get angry at my father for things because I know he's not well. In fact - I've actually now saved in my phone as "Dad (Patience)". I want to go to law school so I can help those dealing with healthcare issues, whether it be physical or mental. There are important legal fights that need to be fought. My dad was lucky enough to have insurance to help him pay for the radiation for the cancer. Many, many people are not so lucky. However, his psychologist does not accept his insurance and as such he can only see him every six months which, in my opinion, is not nearly enough. Especially given these tumultuous times we are living in regarding health care, I am motivated more than ever to get a place professionally where I can help make a difference for those who are struggling like my father.

Helena M. - Corban University - Read Essay »

The C word. That's what my family called it for the first month. For the month of September, our tongues couldn't seem to put the two syllables "can-cer" together. So instead we would say the C word. Soon the C word turned to five syllables. Chemotherapy. Because that's what they told us it took to fight the cancer. A medicine the nurses chose to refer to as "The Red Devil." First her appetite. Not even a fountain Pepsi from Casey's General Store piqued her interest. "I know you're not hungry, but Marsha you've gotta eat, hun. You've gotta eat" is what Nurse Jan would tell her. Next her energy. Then the feeling in her fingers and her feet. "Mom, please wait for me, I'll help you walk down the stairs. Please, one second." Finally, the hair. Her ears were always cold. When she wasn't feeling self-conscious, she would spontaneously whip off her head scarf in public to freak out the innocent by standers milling around us. The mischievous grin that would find her lips in those moments spread to those around her faster than any metastatic breast cancer ever could. Chemotherapy seemed to fight a lot of things, but I'm not sure cancer was one of them. Next, radiation. That's the next thing they told us it would take to fight the cancer. A giant, itchy sunburn is what mom called it. Every day. 9am. On the dot. While she changed into a hospital gown and thoroughly removed any spec of metal, I would check the progress made on the puzzle. Just where'd I'd left it the previous morning, only now an entire edge had been pieced together by another daughter waiting for her mom to get better. Community. I never met my fellow puzzle enthusiasts. But every day at 9am, each new piece that had been added in the last 24 hours by someone else waiting for their family or friend to get better said to me "I get it. I'm waiting, too. Piece by piece, we'll keep fighting." You need community to fight cancer. For a while, chemotherapy and radiation was what it took to fight cancer. For a while. Then in October, the C word didn't seem so scary anymore. Not when you put the H word next to it. Hospice. What hospice really means is hopeless. "We don't know what it takes to fight cancer anymore." "Our medicine won't work." "One year." Family. It takes family to fight cancer. It takes sons driving from Wyoming and Texas in one day and daughters flying from Oregon to your farmhouse in Illinois to say "You are worth it. Keep. Fighting. We're with you." It takes friends. It takes friends paying for those plane tickets and bringing meals (no matter how hard you resist their sacrifice), friends sending texts and phone calls. "We're praying." It takes tears. So many tears to fight cancer. To cry when you no longer can tell your fingers or toes what to do. Tears when showering takes a team of four nurses and going outside has to be scheduled days in advanced. Liquid frustration when your brain can no longer tell you what 2+2 equals. It takes laughter. So so so much laughter. Laughter when your daughter misses your mouth and instead spills cranberry juice down your front because you no longer can feed yourself. Laughter when your 9 month old grandson decides, no, this is not a hospital bed. This is my jungle gym. And I'll be darned if I don't climb it as so. Laughter at memories, mishaps, and family stories alike. My momma's sweet smile. Yes, it definitely takes laughter to fight cancer. & finally it takes faith to fight cancer. "Baby girl. This is so scary. So hard. I'm so sorry. But Helena." "I get to meet Jesus soon." Oh momma how were you so strong? After a year of battling, I lost my mom on October 26, 2016 to Stage 1 Breast Cancer. I spent the remainder of the Fall semester of my Junior year home with my dad in Springfield, Illinois. For two months, I waffled back and forth between staying home with my dad in Illinois or returning to Corban University the following Spring semester. Returning to studying Exercise Science, running Track and Field for the Warriors, and my position as one of the Vice Presidents on the Student Government Cabinet. "Momma, how am I supposed to go back? Everything is so different, you're not here? Who am I going to call when I'm overwhelmed? Who will I celebrate my 5K PR's (Personal Records) with? Who will encourage me when I feel inadequate when leading my Student Government branch?" "You...you are why I am who I am and why I am where I am." Exactly. My mom showed me what it takes to fight cancer. But she also showed me what it takes to keep fighting once cancer makes its mark. She is why I am who I am and why I am where I am. So I keep fighting. I returned to Corban University in the Spring of 2017 to complete my Junior year. I returned to studying Exercise Science to pursue a career in Nutrition. I slowly but surely picked running back up with Corban's Track & Field team. I resumed my position as Corban's ASB Vice President of Student Initiatives & Endeavors, to later that semester be elected as the 2017-2018 Corban ASB President for my Senior year of college. Cancer sucks. My life is different. Cancer has shown me a side of life that I pray few others must experience. But cancer also brought out a strength and fight in my sweet momma and father that I pray I can find even a spec of in my own heart. College won't solve all of my problems. My education won't erase the mark cancer has left on my life or replace what it's taken from my family. But I know I have to keep going, studying and doing what I love. Striving to be as strong as my momma. "Baby girl, you are so much stronger than you know." Two blog posts about my mother's fight with cancer I would also like to share: https://theadventuresofhelenarose.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/the-question-remains/ https://theadventuresofhelenarose.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/fifty-two/

Betty L. - Binghamton University - Read Essay »

I remember the day that she came to live with us. I went with my parents to pick her up from the airport and she had brought me a gift from the airplane that turned out to be"¦ a packet of ketchup. She couldn't read or understand English, so she had mistaken the ketchup for candy. Regardless, I was so happy that I had left my pink jacket at the airport and came home with nothing but ketchup in my hand. We couldn't understand each other at first. I spoke Chinese in a Cantonese dialect, while she spoke in her native Taishanese dialect. The language barrier didn't really bother us though, and I eventually picked up an ear for her native tongue. My grandmother became my primary caretaker while my parents worked long fifty-hour weeks. She cooked all my meals until I became a self-proclaimed cup noodle fanatic. She founded my love for Hot Fries when she bought a random bag of chips from our neighborhood deli to surprise me with. She picked me up from after-school where I forged her signature every day until my parents deemed me old enough to walk home myself in the fourth grade. Even then, she would sit outside on the steps of our house until I made it home safely. I can't remember a moment in my childhood where my grandmother wasn't around to look out for me. My grandmother was a child when Japan captured Guangzhou, China during World War II. She would run and hide in the mountains when the Japanese came to ransack the villages. She was always a fighter, even when she was diagnosed with cancer during the summer before my freshman year of college. I had been away for the summer because I was accepted into the Educational Opportunity Program at Binghamton University which required me to take classes from July to August. When I returned in August, my parents told me that she was just a little sick and there was nothing to worry about, I sensed that something was wrong but was too afraid to admit it. I became my caretaker's caretaker. My bedroom was next to hers and I would open her light every day to check if she was still breathing. I would wake up to the sound of her vomiting blood. Other times, she fell off the bed from heaving so hard and I would help her back up. She began going to the hospital frequently, and the days until I started college was dwindling. I hated myself for going away to school four hours away and felt extremely selfish for experiencing one of the most pivotal times in my life while my grandmother was lying in a hospital bed. It was Thanksgiving, and I had spent my entire break in the hospital. Returning to school was hard because my friends were asking about my Thanksgiving break and I didn't have the heart to tell them, so I told them that the turkey was dry but it was a great holiday. I pushed my way to finals week and planned to leave after my last exam so I could see my grandmother. December 16th, sociology. I made it home the next day to find out that she had passed away the day before. In her final days, she had lost her memory and could only recall my name. Losing her truly broke my heart and the first thing about loss is that you wish that you had more time. One day could have made all the difference and it was the one thing I couldn't have. Ironically, I turned 18 years old a week later; the year that marked my "adulthood" and I didn't want anything more than to be a child in my grandmother's arms again. Pardon my French, but cancer is a bitch. Praying and support from loved ones can only go so far. It takes time and money to fight cancer. Money can buy you chemotherapy which relates to time, if you're lucky enough to catch it at an early stage. The biggest obstacle is the cost of treatment for cancer. Many studies have found an association between the lack of insurance and higher stage of cancer diagnosis. This leads into a further discussion of income disparities and people of color who cannot afford insurance. It's a complex and vicious cycle of socioeconomic status and race. In a 2017 study done by The American Cancer Society, it found that "Uninsured patients and those from many ethnic minority groups are substantially more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a later stage when treatment can be more extensive, costlier, and less successful." This happened to be the case with my grandmother. It was stage-four cancer when the doctors caught it, my grandmother's organs were already failing. My parents could barely afford to make ends meet and the medical bills kept piling up. Cancer impacts the individual, but also severely impacts the family in more ways than one can imagine. My mother had to take weeks off work and when you add economic pressure onto a family that is cannot afford it while also grieving, it is detrimental. Furthermore, the cost of healthcare continues to rise to the point that health insurance is a luxury. The rising price tag for cancer treatment and healthcare is an injustice. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Education is the key to solving our problems. Without education, we wouldn't be able to foster the brilliant minds of the next generation who could be the ones to find the cure for cancer. What if the cure for cancer is in the mind of a child who doesn't have access to an education? Society should question their morality when it comes to issues such as healthcare and education, it should anger you. As a first-generation college student privileged enough to attend college through the educational opportunity program at Binghamton University, my fight for those who don't have a voice will never be over. Education is what will break the vicious cycles of poverty for many and is the best investment any country could make. With my own education, I hope to use it to better the world. My dream is to help everyone get access to an education.

Diron G. - Prairie View A&M University - Read Essay »

I can still hear her voice, as sweet as it ever was. "Baby, whatever you're going to do, be the best at it!", my Grandma was my number 1 supporter. Armed with life lessons and saved by the blood of Jesus, she was my hero. She never met a stranger, and always remained selfless. She had beaten cancer twice in my lifetime; once when I was a little child, and once 2 years before her passing. When I lost her, I felt the weight of the world on my chest. It was as if someone stole something from me, because that's exactly what it was. My grandmother, the matriarch of our family. Losing her was pulling the intricate thread on a beautiful sweater. My family being the sweater, we soon all unraveled. It wasn't until we lost sweet Josephine that we realized she was our glue, she was the thread that kept the sweater beautiful. Her being on hospice was very hard for me. Just months before she was teaching me how to drive, "Baby, you need to slow down!". Laughter was her medicine, she could turn any situation into something to chuckle about. To lose a loved one in this slow and painful way you must be sure to be thankful for the memories. Remember them for their brightest and most inspirational moments, the times where they were just being who they always were. Not only does it help the pain, it honors them by reliving how the times that they've touched you. It takes appreciation and reverence to lose a loved one to cancer. Her body weakened as time went on, but her might and will to live was as strong as ever. She was always a true warrior, she never gave up when life got hard. I will always remember that about her. My mother took care of us both, she's a cosmetologist. She had to uproot her shop and make renovations to our home, so that she could legally continue her business while being able to nurse my grandma. I watch my mother adjust under pressure without batting an eye. I know it was difficult, but she never winced nor cried aloud. We were truly all that we had, we loved the rest of our family, but we were the trio. We laughed, we cried, we ate good food (my grandma loved to eat). I was a junior in high school, plagued by standardized test that will determine my graduation. Not to mention, the SAT and the ACT! Although at the time I felt that life was crashing down for me, I made an active decision to put as much energy into helping my mother and my grandmother as I would into my post-graduate plans. I know that's what grandma would have asked of me. It was through my grandmother's sickness that I learned the value of family, and sacrifice. It's one thing to say that you'll be there for someone, but it's another to be at their beckoning call. Above all else it was almost unbearable to see me mother lose her mother. The very fact that she could never verbally express her pain, yet I know even if she did I wouldn't be able to relate. She started to eat less, and stress more; the crying stopped and there was just silent mourning. It's been 6 years, my grandmother passed on June 8th, 2011. My mother slowly but surely got better, but even now she has her moments. Mother's Day, Christmas, and June 8th are extremely hard still. She sometimes likes to venture off and find a quiet place to reminisce. With this I've witnessed that time could possibly heal all wounds. This situation shook my family and forced us to readjust to help my grandmother. It was heartbreaking, but it was the only choice we had. I'd quickly put myself second to my family again if the opportunity presented itself. As for me, I'm doing much better. I decided to continue my education at Prairie View A&M University. I recently graduated with a degree in Political Science. Some would say my grandmother had the best seat in the house; I know she was watching from above, as proud as she could possibly be. Thank you, grandma, because above everything else you taught me that family is forever. Although the sweater may be a little unraveled, it can never be replaced. Josephine Lacy, I love you.

Grace G. - University of Pennsylvania Law School - Read Essay »

Driving up to Rhode Island for my Grandfather's 80th birthday, I was eager to stop at the grocery store, pick up turkey sandwiches, and jump on the sailboat. This was our routine. Papa practically lived on his sailboat, which was now almost 40 years old, but as good as new. It was fascinating to ride with Papa, learning new boating terms and techniques each time I joined him. His boat is where he belonged. At his 80th birthday party held at the boat club the following day, Papa was in his element. Friends and family gathered to celebrate a loving and generous man and we danced the night away. As we left Rhode Island the following day, my father reminded Papa to "get that thing on his ear checked out." Two weeks later the biopsy results were in: "that thing" was cancer and Papa's cancer journey began. Shortly after receiving his results, he underwent surgery to remove the mole on his ear as well as a large portion of the upper half of the ear, a constant reminder of what ultimately resulted in his death. Little did we know that for the next year we would be making more frequent trips to the Rhode Island Hospital, not picking up turkey sandwiches and heading straight to the boat. When the doctor informed the family a few months later that the cancer had metastasized, we knew Papa's time would be limited. He displayed courage and positivity through chemotherapy, difficulty breathing, and eventually immobility. We were determined to get Papa on the boat one last time, however, and the doctor agreed. Papa sat next to the steering wheel, unable to perform his boating routine, but instead instructing the family step-by-step. His passion for boating never faded. Ultimately, his pride and joy, the endless days spent working on the boat, is what caused his death. That final day on the boat showed his fearlessness and his inability to be deterred from what he loved most. This is what it takes to fight cancer. Throughout his yearlong battle, my Grandfather's cancer health challenges taught me never to forget or give up my passion and commitment to what I love. His story his ironic in that it is that passion and commitment that became his cancer, his evil. Throughout the course of life it can be tempting to give up or to lose interest in what formerly produced great joy. It is so easy to become deterred, to lose sight of our goals. But what I learned from my Grandfather is that if cancer can't even stop us from enjoying a day on the boat, nothing should discourage us from attaining our loftiest desires. He unselfishly never failed to inquire about developments in my life, and was able to give me advice up until his final day. My Papa encouraged me to achieve my goal of one day becoming a Labor and Employment Lawyer; nothing could stop me now. He guided me every step of the way, even from his hospital bed, and thankfully lived to see the day that I was accepted to my first law school. My Papa's encouragement has influenced me to positively impact others. In the last year, I have volunteered regularly throughout New York City, most often in mentor roles with student ranging from elementary school through graduate school. I have traveled to poor neighborhoods in Brooklyn to advise middle school children and have visited John Jay College of Criminal Justice to assist students in achieving their career goals. As a result, I have become a mentor to several budding professionals and have prepared students for interviews, read and edited resumes, and have even provided study resources. The student's feedback and success has motivated me to accept a formal mentor position at KPMG (where I am an Associate in the Regulatory Enforcement and Compliance service network) this summer. Education is a critical piece of the fight against cancer. Had my Grandfather known in the 1960's the dangers of standing in the sun for days on end without protection, he would have taken the necessary precautions to protect himself. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan I participated in Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research and this past year I participated in Cycle for Survival, which raised more than $34 million dollars to fund research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I truly believe that with continued efforts to fund research we will one day find a cure. In the meantime, however, it is imperative to heed the advice of doctors and researchers to take preventive measures against this fatal disease.

Emilio S. - University Texas San Antonio - Read Essay »

The fight against cancer is approached differently by each patient. Living in San Antonio being half way across the country from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, didn't stop any of them from flying out to be with me for each of my twelve chemotherapy's. But I had decided to throw a twist when my grandma asked to take a picture as we were leaving my first chemo. We can take a normal picture first, then we have to take a picture with us throwing the finger towards cancer. The look on her face was priceless, I ended up with a collage of photos with each of my family members flipping the bird towards cancer as they left the doctor with me after my six hour day of chemo. After going through six months of chemo, my positive attitude is what kept me fighting. I had the positive outlook on waking up in the morning thanking God for another day and living it to the fullest. I did not appreciate life as much as I do now after being in remission for six months. Before I walked into the treatment room for my first chemo I met with my doctor, he asked how I felt. My response made him drop his jaw and it was the first time her ever heard a response like mine in the many years he has practiced medicine. I simply told him I was excited, then explained why. After not knowing an exact diagnosis for several weeks, we finally found what it was and have a treatment plan for it. Let's get that plan started and back on the road to being healthy playing baseball. Cancer had put a halt on my collegiate baseball career. I was on scholarship to the University Houston-Victoria, after playing two years I was released from the team and one week later I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma stage three cancer. My plans for the summer of 2016 went from being a transfer student-athlete to stop everything for my war against cancer. I state war because the fight against cancer is one itself, but there are several tough battles fought in between. An uncommon side effect I had from my medications was hiccups, I am talking hiccups for hours straight causing serious abdominal pain. Or the shortness of breath, I had to stop three to four times walking upstairs to my room because I would simply lose my breath and not be able to catch it at times. I could go on and on about the small battles with cancer, sometimes it will kick your ass and end you up in the ER. I can agree with everyone, the amount of love and support from my family was unconditional that kept me moving every day. But if you ask me, the attitude I learned and developed on the baseball field is what kept me fighting. I started playing baseball freshman year in high school, I was told I would never make the varsity team. Junior year I make varsity, senior year I lock down a starting spot and led the district with highest batting average. I was told congratulations, you made the all-district team and proved us wrong from freshman year, but baseball is done for you after high school. Out of the ten graduating seniors on the team, I was one of two who signed to play baseball in college. Once again beating all odds. When it came to stepping up against cancer, I kept the same mindset to once again beat the odds. I made all of those achievements throughout high school and college, people saw the end result in the games from the stands. No one knew the sweat and hard work that had to be fit into an already busy college schedule. Just like no one can understand everything I went through battling cancer daily behind closed doors, but people will still be there in the stands amazed with the final result wondering what it takes to be a survivor.

Mylia L. - Georgia Institute of Technology - Read Essay »

Velma Pounds Lewis, a phenomenal woman with an incredible sense of humor and a heart so large it dwarfed the sun, whom I have the honor of calling my paternal Grandmother, passed away after losing the well fought battle against colon cancer. What it took for her to mount up for a 7 year battle was more fortitude, faith and enduring strength that I could ever imagine possessing because this fight was a physical and mental fight for her very life! Velma was the rock and foundation of our family. She loved all of her children and their offspring to be around to enjoy the feasts she would prepare. She lived in a subdivision where high voltage power lines stood in her backyard and she enjoyed rich fatty foods and sweet tea so sweet that it almost poured like syrup. Grandma had been diagnosed and cancer free at the 5 year mark from the first round that involved chemotherapy, rehab and a stay at a nursing home due to a wound that would not heal but she fought and was ready to fight again! I remember my Mother driving us early one morning to Charlotte, North Carolina to pick up my Grandmother to take her to Wake Forest Medical Center. Leaving Wake Forest, silence in the car on the ride back to Grandma's let me know that something was not quite right. After arriving back to Grandma's she asked me to get her a glass of sweet tea. From the kitchen I overheard her tell my mother these very words, "I am going to die." as she held her head low in defeat but that did not last for long. She put on her game face and went leading the charge into her battle. Not long after that visit she underwent surgery that I later found out was to remove a larger portion of her colon and would result in a bowel diversion and creating an Ostomy. Recovery for her from this involved tremendous amounts of pain and required her to be completely dependent on family for even her basic needs. She struggled with the thought of expelling into a bag on her stomach and my young heart bled for my sweet Grandma. Less than 6 months later we were told by doctors that they were unsuccessful in removing all of the cancer and it had invaded her organs as well. Grandma was sent back to Wake Forest for an extended period of time only to be separated from the family by distance and I distinctly remember my last visit with her. Despite all that cancer had done to her she managed to sit up, smile and talk to me about growing up and excellence in school. I remember thinking that she didn't look the same. She looked like a weaker weathered and worn shell of what she used to look like but here fighter spirit was shining through. She was later transferred to a hospital in Charlotte and during subsequent visits I was not permitted into the room to visit with her anymore. My curiosity caused me to eavesdrop while the adults were talking to who I now know was a Palliative Care nurse and I remember hearing terms used like "quality of life" and "hospice". At the time I had no idea what a hospice was but I was about to find out much sooner than later. It seemed as though every weekend we were driving from Lawrenceville , Georgia to Charlotte, North Carolina and visits were not as exciting as before. There were no more festive meals, the family was never at the house at the same time as they went to the Hospice facility in shifts and the atmosphere embraced an eminent sadness. As a child I had no real understanding of what was happening, I only knew that Grandma was not there. Shortly after a visit in August to Charlotte my father went back in the middle of the week late at night. The next day I learned that my sweet Grandma had passed away. Although she lost the battle she fought with an arsenal she pulled from. She used her faith in God to prepare and to fight the battle. She knew at the end she would rest in His arms but not until He was ready for her. She used the love of her family as inspiration and fuel to push past the pain and stay with us as long as she could.. She used her medical professionals care plans and allowed them to do what they felt was necessary to fight as well as be comfortable as possible. She lived for weeks in Hospice never wanting to give up. Never did I think that through this sad time I was learning. She was teaching me to be aware of Cancer and what it will do to a person. My Aunts, Uncle and parents had to pool finances to bury my Grandma since she did not have enough life insurance. My parents had to pull the funds from my 529 Plan with the intentions of replacing it. I have $49 in my account to prepare for college expenses. We will never know if it was the eating eating the rich and fatty meals, the sweet tea, the high voltage power lines or just a rogue cell that decided to mutate and take over in Grandma's body. Either way I am now conscious and aware of many things in my world that may contribute to cancer as it seems as almost everything "may" cause cancer. If we turn a blind eye and think it won't happen to us then we are doing ourselves a disservice. In the words of Dale Carnegie, "Knowledge isn't power until it is applied." Educating myself and others has been very important to my lifestyle having witnessed the fight of Velma Pounds Lewis. I truly thank her for the lessons she taught me, particularly how to educate myself and to fight!

Morgan M. - Whittier College - Read Essay »

No one's life follows a set path. But nobody can predict the vicissitudes one will encounter. My path changed with the following words: "I have ovarian cancer. It's Stage 3C which is one stage before death..." Though my mother continued to explain her situation, I heard nothing after the word, "death." Cancer? I replayed the word over and over in my mind. My upcoming swim meet, my recent argument with my best friend, the boy on whom I had a crush who didn't notice me, the upcoming math test; all of these things suddenly did not matter anymore, but they became my escape. By throwing myself into these extracurricular activities, I avoided the reality I wasn't willing to face. I immersed myself in sports. Literally immersed myself. I began swimming every day. The pool became my sanctuary. I found that by focusing my mind on each stroke I was able to leave my worries about my mother in my wake. My swimming improved dramatically; unfortunately my mother's condition did not. While I was winning medals at Junior Olympics, my mother's hair was falling out. While I helped my team place second at the CIF Champion Finals, my mother suffered from sudden weight loss as a result of chemotherapy. Some people might feel defeated by such a diagnosis; my mother gracefully faced the challenge. She was going to fight for survival. Watching her struggle, I came to the realization that my mother could not fight this battle alone. She needed support. More specially, she needed my support. Although I had become a star swimmer, I had not been such a supportive daughter. But that was about to change. The stamina, endurance, and inner-strength I had gained from swimming could infuse my mother with the morale support only a daughter could give. Despite my mother's fortitude, I knew that her struggle would not be easy. Her weakness prevented her from completing simple tasks around the house. Therefore, I took over the responsibilities of washing the dishing, doing the laundry, and preparing meals for my family. I became less dependent on my mother for typical things such as homemade school lunches and frivolous rides to trivial destinations. One of our family traditions is eating dinner together. As my mother's condition deteriorated, she lacked the strength to join us. My father, brother, and I half-heartedly tried to carry on the tradition, but the empty seat at the table assumed an ominous presence. As much as I tried to support her, my mother supported me more than I could reciprocate, she managed to attend every Back to School Night, piano performances, college visits, and all of my swim meets. The chemotherapy may have robbed her of her hair, but it could not strip her of her motherly instincts. The whole time I thought I was swimming away from my problems, I was actually fulfilling my mother's dreams for me. It turned out that my mother is strong enough to battle cancer on her own. She didn't really need me to carry things for her or to fawn over her. She just needed me to allow her to be a mother. Furthermore her perseverance allowed me to develop into the person I am today. Throughout this life altering event, I learned the importance of altruism; not only my own but also my mother's. I learned the importance of leadership by becoming more independent. I learned the importance of family by cherishing every moment spent with my mother. I learned the importance of commitment by forcing myself to honor my obligations. I learned the importance of dedication through being academically and athletically fierce. Though this life altering event wouldn't have been the choice I wanted, I learned valuable life lessons and morals.

Alexander M. - Charleston Southern University - Read Essay »

Fire. It is wild that so many words in the English language have a multitude of meanings, all determined through interpretation of the individual. Take fire, depending on its context, the use of the word is discovered. It can range from; combustion of substances to produce flames, the act of shooting, to being dismissed from a job. My interpretation of this word isn't the popular one, nor is it the frequent other alternatives. When I hear the word fire, I think of a plethora of life defining moments that have twisted and shaped my life, like the way that silly putty is constantly being reshaped when in the hands of a child. I could use pages delving into the intricacies of each life-altering antidote that would continually reiterate the overall theme that eventually becomes monotonous. It is not my intention to dilute this essay with stories of reasons why I should receive this award, but to better express who I am, what would make me an exceptional lawyer, and ultimately what drives me, through a series of words. So, "why?" you may ask yourself do I deserve it, that million-dollar question that is asked of everyone whom applies. I pondered on this question for quite some time, sometimes catching myself lost in thought from time to time, thinking of how my life has led me to this exact moment. The best way I could think to answer this intricate yet simple question, is to start like any good story; from the beginning. At the initial start of my academic journey, I wasn't originally fixed in the direction of law. My journey was more fueled by the, "it might probably be a good idea to think about, eventually"¦", but ended up always using the cards I was dealt which provided me with a vague sense of direction. The majority of my adolescent life was spent striving to be an elite athlete. Baseball was the sport I love and specifically excelled in. Most would say I've done a pretty decent job at achieving that goal. Neither being the most gifted nor the strongest, I was often labeled as the "late bloomer". I continually worked at something I truly wanted, which was to play in college. I was able to achieve that when I accepted a scholarship to play Division One baseball at Coastal Carolina University. Growing up presented many obstacles and adversity, however, I always had my biggest cheerleader by my side: my father. His belief in me was unwavering, and often shined through when I didn't believe it myself. I am completely indebted to both my parents for the support they gave me in every facet of life. My dad showed me that I was different than the other players, along with the people whom I hung around. Eventually, I understood what he meant through his showings, it was that fire. Each speed bump added to it like coal to my internal furnace chugging along through life to lead to something exceptional. Four years later and four schools later, I was able to continue my career to the professional level and play for the Southern Illinois Miners. Although my playing days were cut short due to an injury, in my heart I felt like it was time to move on even though baseball had been a part of who I am for over 20 years. What it taught me is how to deal with failure. Baseball is a game of failure, and how you grow and overcome those failures not only makes you a successful player, but to succeed in life. New goals were set, but the strive for greatness never changed. Striving for something exceptional has been instilled in me by my parents, and is something that I will forever have no matter where life takes me. It's crazy to look back on life events and see how certain moments have prepared you for something much bigger in the future. This holds true for me as well. It felt like the first 20 years of my life was all just a big pretest of something to come. Each moment all just trial runs for the biggest test of my life that I would experience in 2015. After my Dad passed away from cancer, in early October 2015, my world was turned upside. My outlook on life was shaky, but put a lot of things into perspective for what is really important in life. After months of walking through life almost purposeless, being able to accept something I can't change and swallow the worst pill of accepting a deceased parent, I picked myself up, like my father taught me, and moved forward. I try to live a life that would make him proud. The core values instilled in me from him speaks volumes to the kind of person he was when he was alive. This is the core of my fire, my hunger and my resilience when faced with the worst thing imaginable. So to try to answer the all-important, "why should I receive this scholarship?" I don't think I have the cookie cutter answer, but what I do know for certain, is that I am meant for greatness. I believe that the values that my father instilled in me will be the backbone of me in my journey to becoming a lawyer. I would love for your institution to present me with this award, to help with my dream in becoming a great lawyer. No one can see the future, nor can anyone control it, but that's the beauty of life. I hope you enjoyed the glimpse into who I am as much as I enjoyed sharing it. I would truly be honored to be granted this scholarship. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Best regards Alex Ministeri.

Kelly W. - NORTHEASTERN STATE UNIVERSITY - Read Essay »

Kelly Woodhead 2046 FM 982 Princeton, TX 75407 580-371-6219 kelly0629@yahoo.com Northeastern State University Medical Laboratory Science Degree Completion 2019 My name is Kelly Woodhead, and I am applying for the Environmental Litigation Group Scholarship. I grew up the oldest of four children in a tiny dairy farming town. My dad was a high school graduate who continued the strong family tradition of enlisting in the United States Armed Forces, and my mother was a high school dropout. Growing up, we never seemed to have enough money, or at times, even enough food to feed a family of six. As I neared the end of my senior year, I had no idea what to be "when I grew up." I just knew that I did not want to be poor for the rest of my life. A month before graduation, with no other prospects on the horizon, I decided to enlist in the United States Air Force. I only had two stipulations when it came to my job training. I wanted a job that I could transition to as a civilian upon discharge, and I DID NOT want to be a sniper. After graduating from Air Force Basic Training, I attended a Medical Laboratory Technician program, graduating in the top 5% of my class. Upon completion, I started work as an Air Force Medical Laboratory Technician at a large Level 1 Trauma Center in San Antonio, TX. Over the next seven years, I got married and gave birth to three children while working full time and progressing in rank. Although making a career out of the Armed Forces was never part of my original plan, I wanted to continue my enlistment into retirement. Unfortunately, in 1997, I was diagnosed with cancer and forced to take a medical discharge. Once I completed treatment and was in remission, I continued my laboratory career in the civilian sector. Through the years, like many, I have suffered tremendous hardship. Doctors diagnosed me with cancer two additional times after my initial diagnosis, both requiring chemotherapy and radiation. In researching my illness, I discovered that having someone be diagnosed with cancer after the initial diagnosis and treatment was exceedingly rare, but not impossible. What I did not learn until later was that the initial lowering of my body's immune system that made it susceptible to the first cancer was a sign of an underlying condition. In 2009 I started experiencing some unusual neurological symptoms. Within a very short period, I became paralyzed from the chest down and had a severely decreased loss of vision in my left eye. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Doctors eventually found a treatment that worked to restore the sensation in my lower extremities and improve my vision; however, the side effects of the medication were severe. It deteriorated my bones to the point that they crumbled. After finally being able to walk on my own again, I had to spend the next year having to have both shoulders and both hips replaced. It was such a devastating time for me. Not only did I have to come to terms with my physical limitations post-paralysis and joint replacements, but I also had to come to terms with my physical appearance. Due to the forced inactivity, high doses of steroids, and stress related unhealthy eating habits; I had gained 160 lbs! When people hear my story, they often ask me what my biggest challenge was during my illness and recovery. To this, I very simply say "Standing Up!"I wish I could explain the feeling of standing up for the first time after being paralyzed. Imagine rising from a seated position and having an entire person on your back that you did not expect to be there. I was 300 lbs! My research into weight loss is what placed me on the path to a healthier lifestyle. I realized at the time that it might never be possible to return to the healthy weight I had maintained before my illness, this was not just about my weight. By educating myself, I learned that healthy lifestyle choices such as clean eating and exercise would not only help me lose the weight I gained, but also decrease my risk of a fourth cancer, keep me as fit and healthy as someone in my condition can be, and extend my life. Eight years have passed since my MS diagnosis. Today, I am in complete remission from cancer, have lost the 160 pounds I gained while in a wheelchair and on treatment, and am in the best shape of my life. I do my meal prep in advance to stay as close to my 80/20 clean eating rule as possible. I wake up every morning at 5 am and workout from home regardless of what time I went to bed. I walk an average of 30 miles per week at the park, even if it is raining. There are some days I succeed at reaching both my diet and exercise goals and some days that I do not. When I fail, I just try to cut myself some slack, vow to do better the next day, and above all else, stay focused and never gives up. I wish I could say some "one" or some "thing" inspired me, but it is simpler than that. Life inspired me. I had children at home that needed their mother, a husband that needed his wife, and co-workers at my job that needed their boss. I continue to maintain a full-time job, raise a family, and, during times when I feel better, continue my education. A couple of years ago, my employer presented me with the opportunity to transfer from manager to a weekend MT Lead position in my lab, which I was more than ready to accept. It allowed me to work full-time and raise my last child as a "full-time mom." However, she is older now, and self-sufficient, so the timing could not be better for me to return to school. I have been accepted into the Medical Laboratory Science online Bachelor's Degree program at Northeastern State University, but I need your help. You asked what it takes to fight cancer, and my answer to you is simple. It takes drive and determination, but above all focus - remaining focused helped me survive. I know that the same drive and determination that got me through cancer, paralysis and 160-pound weight loss will get me through the completion of my degree. I cannot think of a better candidate more deserving of this scholarship. I sincerely appreciate your time in evaluating my application and giving me the opportunity to tell my story. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Jose H. - Texas A&M International University - Read Essay »

In a society where one of the biggest factors of death is cancer it takes more than medicine to fight this disease. Family, friends and a supporting group of doctors is what helps a person overcome this disease. It is devastating to be informed by a loved one that they have cancer. It is even harder when you are not knowledgeable about what exactly is cancer and how it affects the patient. I was informed that cancer ran in our family but I never knew how much it would affect me and those around me. I've had a total of four close family members who were affected by this disease. My Grandfather was affected by this disease he sadly passed away from lung cancer due to him working in gold mines in Mexico it was though for the family to see him go through this but with help from doctors, friends and the community they could overcome the negative impacts this disease brought to the family. My two mother's cousins were both diagnosed with breast cancer I was a teenager and it was challenging for me to comprehend this problem but our family worked together and friends created a good support system which helped us emotionally get through this sadly one of them passed away but by having the support system we had we were able to overcome it. The hardest thing to cope with was my mother being diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on kidney it was hard on my family to overcome this but with the help of professionals, family and friends this disease didn't affect us as hard my mother was able to remove the cancerous tumor and be cancer free. Being surrounded by strong individuals who fought and survived cancer gives me an idea on what it takes to beat this disease. One of the biggest component to fighting cancer is having the support of your family to help you battle this disease. Family will always be there to help the patient battling through this emotionally and physically tiring disease. Friends are a great foundation to have to help you progress and have a distraction from the pain and anguish that this disease brings to you and those close to the patients. The most important group of people behind the cure or slowing of this disease are the professionals the great medical doctors and the nurses. These group of people will help you be comfortable and assured that everything will work out. Through their diagnosis and different treatments created for everyone battling this disease they help you fight cancer. It is through their great knowledge and understanding that of this cancer that the patient and their family can fight it. I am forever thankful and confident that these doctors will always try their best to save lives and help their patients emotionally and physically they also help the family members of the patients which is a great thing because cancer affects everyone who surrounds the patient. It takes family, friends and a great team of health professionals to help accommodate and fight cancer.

Karis J. - Georgia Gwinnett College - Read Essay »

I don't like to call overcoming cancer a "fight" because in my mind it implies that people who lose their battle with cancer didn't have what it takes, or that they had a choice in the matter. Unfortunately, cancer is not a choice. Cancer is something that creeps up on a person and turns their lives upside down without any warning. I do think people can overcome cancer whether the outcome is good or bad. They can make sure cancer doesn't get the best of them, even if it takes their life. In 2006, within a three month span, my grandmother and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer, and my first cousin died of metastatic breast cancer that spread to her bones and lung at the age of 38. For a few years I had been considering the idea of genetic testing at the prompting of my doctor and family, but I wasn't sure I wanted to know at such a young age if I was a "ticking time bomb". That all changed when I watched my mother endure radiation and chemotherapy, my grandmother undergo a mastectomy and chemotherapy, and along with my family, had to bury my cousin before the age 40. I took the test, and unsurprisingly, I came up BRCA1 positive, meaning I had a lifetime risk of breast cancer of over 80%. I was 30 with three small children. Although the results didn't come as a surprise, I was still devastated, not just for myself, but for my two young daughters, who would likely also carry the gene. I often thought to myself that I wished I didn't know, but I'm glad I found out. Educating myself saved my life. In 2015, at the age of 39, I was going through one of the most difficult times in my life as a newly separated, broke single mom, when I found the dreaded lump. After weeks of tests and consultations, I was told I had early stage breast cancer. I was given the option of a lumpectomy with radiation with the disclaimer that the likelihood of the cancer returning more invasively within five years was over 90%. My other option was a mastectomy. It was a no brainer for me. That was the easy part. The hard part was telling my family. I held off for several months in telling my children and family until right before the mastectomy because I wanted to have all the answers to the questions they would have. I learned that I would never have all the answers and that internalizing my feelings about it all was the worst thing I could do. That is what brings me to the answer to this essay question"¦ What does it take to fight cancer? It takes a support system of friends, family, community, doctors, and nurses. Without that I wouldn't have had it in me to "fight". They are the ones who fought for me by being there when I needed them. When I didn't have answers, they just held my hand and let me cry. When I needed to vent or be angry, they listened and didn't judge. They helped me financially because cancer is expensive and it's not easy to work reliably when you have it because there are appointments and surgeries and treatments and recovery. They helped me with my kids because their lives can't just stop because mom has cancer. They were the bright spots in a very dark time for me. They fought for me when there were many days I thought I didn't have anything left. Today I am fortunate to say that I am just over a year cancer-free. Not because I "fought", but because people, some of whom I barely knew, loved and supported me. Sadly, while my personal experience with breast cancer is mostly behind me, my experience with cancer is not. Last fall my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and is undergoing treatment now. She was my rock through my cancer, and I am hers now. When I was dealing with my cancer, I made a promise to myself and to her that if I came out healthy on the other side, that someday I would go back to school and become a nurse so I could be to someone else what so many were to me. My experience with my mom has expedited my desire to do this because she has had some of the most amazing nurses I've had the pleasure of meeting. Their kindness and support have been so crucial in her willingness to not give up when the money is too tight, the medicines too harsh, and the treatments too painful. Without their expertise and advice, I don't know if I would have been able to help her through the emotional side of the life changing ordeal that is cancer. Even as survivor, it was hard for me to not focus on the technical. The science and medicine are what they are. They either kill the cancer or they don't. The training and education of nurses goes beyond the technical and that is something that can't have a value placed on it. A person can't "fight" cancer. I didn't, my mom isn't, nor are any of the other people I know who have been touched by this horrible disease, whether they are a patient, provider, or supporter. Science and modern medicine fight cancer. People OVERCOME cancer, and that is just as valuable and important. Whether the outcome is good or bad, a person, with the right support system can overcome cancer and not let it destroy their light. Love, kindness, generosity, and faith overcome cancer, and helping someone find peace in the situation that is beyond their control is the most amazing thing you can do.

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.

Chass N. - Washington State University - Read Essay »

My grandfather once gave me some great advice, "Rise up to a challenge, lean in, and you will come through the other side a stronger person." He was right. And he led by example when he faced a tremendous health challenge; Melanoma, or as it's more commonly known, skin cancer. Good health is priceless. In an instant one's life can turn from a focus on the daily minutiae, such as buying toothpaste and wondering where a missing sock is located, to the realitythat our life is anticipated to be counted, not in weeks and years, but in days and moments. And suddenly, with the mere mention of the dreaded "C word" by an esteemed white-coated physician, we are transformed from the trivial to a focus on the very the essence of our lives. My grandfather faced this turn of events when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma-an advanced form of the disease. He had encountered and overcome a heath scare seven years earlier when he experienced renal failure and was given a life-extending kidney transplant. With this blessing, came a litany of medications including immunosuppression anti-rejection medication. In many ways, his life changed dramatically. Yet, he became gratified with a new "normal." With a successful transplant and the required medications there are two common outcomes leading to the final cause of death, cardiac disease or melanoma. The high likelihood of a diagnosis of melanoma is due to the immune suppressing medication. My grandfather faced the fight of his life with the latter after discovering a sore that wouldn't heal. He fought the cancer like he approached life; systematic and pragmatic. He researched his cancer, enrolled in a study, and was placed on a trial medication that was showing promising results. With this alarming diagnosis, his attention turned to his supportive family. My grandfather had been a father-figure to me, as mine was absent from my life. My grandfather never missed one of my soccer games or school events, he helped me build my science projects, such as a pulley-hoist and rocket kit, in his garage. He was a talented architect, with a profound ability for uncomplicated contemporary designs. During his final months and weeks, I spent time with grandfather. We'd go to his favoriteburger joint. I'd watch as he'd add extra salt to his bacon-cheese-burger and fries, and sip on an extra-large Dr. Peppar. Knowing he had catered a lifestyle of unhealthy nutritional choices, I reflected on the well-known blueprint to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet is key (increasing fruit and vegetables and whole grains, while reducing saturated fats, processed foods, and alcohol consumption) along with maintaining a healthy weight. Since my grandfather's passing I think of him often, he was a mentor and a friend. His cancer didn't shape his life, it merely tossed him a curve ball. It is however one of the many reasons that I've chosen to pursue a medical career. Cancer, in most cases, like many disease processes, can be prevented. Our family has a history of colon cancer, the easiest of cancers to prevent as it is so slow growing. Even at a young age, I have an appointment to have an exam forpolyps. Last year, when my mother discovered a pea size lump in her breast, she went in for a biopsy and a metal clip was placed in the lump for monitoring. I was grateful it wasn't malignant. Most of all, I'm grateful for my grandfather who, in his cancer fight, taught us to be vigilant, appreciate wellness, and most of all to value every moment.

Ryan E. - University of Pittsburgh - Read Essay »

Seventeen, physically fit, captain of the tennis team, band section leader, and top of the class. From the outside life is good. Wait! Forgot to add one more thing into the mix"¦ a battle with cancer during senior year of high school. Now it truly is the beginning of a story of love, hope, understanding and best friends. Upon first hearing I had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma I truly felt a lump in my chest right by my heart. My mom, who had been by my side for almost eight hours as we traveled from clinic to hospital to hospital, I think felt it too. Going into the doctors I knew something was wrong, but cancer? Never crossed my mind. Of course like anyone would be I was very scared, nervous, and felt like crying at first, but everyone around me told me they had my back and to stay positive. All I could think was, how could this happen to me? Unfortunately the doctors ask the same thing, because there is no good reason why cancer happens in most cases. The most important thing to realize is that no matter what the doctors will do everything in their power to get through this challenge together. Nonetheless, it was the start to my own fight, and I knew I had what it takes. What did I have? First off I had the love and support of my family and friends who came to visit and had my back from the first day in the hospital. No matter what I went through they were ready to go through it with me making sure I was as relaxed and happy as possible. Even the workers at the front desk said they have never seen so many people come and visit. I was very popular during my stay. Everyone who came left their nametag on the wall in my room, which gave me joy and comfort, two things I never thought cancer would bring. Throughout my treatment having someone to talk to and seeing how much love was sent my way has inspired me to stay on top of this fight and not let it change who I am. I never asked for my friends to make shirts, bracelets, bandanas, and even a green out football game, but it sure made me feel loved and happy to know that they gave their support. Not once have I felt alone or discouraged and it is all thanks to the support of my friends and family. One time right after the green out football game, instead of celebrating a win, my friends on the football team came to see me. They wanted to hand me the game ball in person signed by the team, even if they did still smell like the locker room. We played Mario Kart on a small TV until the nurses kicked them out. The best nights like this one is what I will remember from my long stay in the hospital, and not all the time lying in bed. It takes an optimistic point of view, being able to see progress rather than setbacks. Focusing on every little battle I won like entering remission and keeping my blood counts up brought me a long way. Even though long days and nights at the hospital become a normal part of treatment life, it is important to know that all the nurses and doctors are there to make it as easy and quick as possible. They want their patients to be comfortable at all times with any movie or video game at the ready. I always have felt safe at the hospital because if anything were to happen there is a team of doctors all for me looking for answers, and they have seen everything. Finally, and most importantly, find an inspiration, someone who has beaten cancer already. Maybe in a sports player or a friend met in the hospital. For me my inspiration came from James Conner and Phil Kessel. Two amazing athletes who have hit rock bottom and bounced back to become heroes in the city of Pittsburgh. Finding articles and stories online or in books brings into reality that even though it may seem impossible people have, and will, continue to beat cancer. Going on hospital trips and getting to know the child life specialists has connected me to friends my own age who have gone through or are going through battles of their own. Sharing stories and being able to laugh about the experience brings light into the dark. On a hospital trip to a ski resort I met several kids who I still keep in contact with. They have become constant reminders to keep strong and know the best years are still to come What it takes to beat cancer might be a little different for everyone. For me focusing on what makes me happy and how far I have come has pushed me through to where I can see the finish line. I plan to leave cancer where it belongs, under me. I know life will bring many more battles, but none will compare to the one I have already won.

Margaret R. - New York University - Read Essay »

Although I have not had cancer, I have witnessed a loved one (my father) suffer from (and ultimately crater to) the disease. Maybe it is because he succumbed to Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (or the chemotherapy treating it) that the war metaphors for surviving cancers and other severe illnesses have made me leery. And even as I write about his experience now, I find myself typing--and then struggling to replace--words to avoid using the trite euphemisms we are so used to employing to avoid the uncomfortable realities about the disease. While under the guise of conveying a sense of peace to those undergoing treatment, using the ideas of courage and bravery to discuss someone's approach to a particularly fickle illness has always struck me as more beneficial to the acquaintances of patients than to the patients themselves. Because, by invoking a warrior mentality, we imply that surviving cancer is a matter of positive psychology, when in reality, it's the prototypical example of a corporal challenge. Was my father any less of a "fighter" because he didn't make it? Or, was it more a result of his nearly 70 years of unhealthy living compounded by under skilled doctors and his own body's poor response to treatment? Instead of ending up on the wrong side of a long, hard battle, maybe his luck just ran out. If I sound flippant, it's because when we don't have the courage to use anything beyond euphemisms to talk about cancer, we miss out on a much more important conversation, one that could actually save lives. When we talk about cancer like it's some sort of psychological enemy to be conquered, we don't give the appropriate attention to the actual behaviors before and during a cancer diagnosis that can increase the likelihood of remission. The first way to fight cancer then is before diagnosis. We must have the courage to empower ourselves with knowledge, whether it's by examining our family history or engaging in acts of prevention. Our research may not always be welcome but it's because of early screening and protection that breast cancer mortality, for example, in women in the U.S. declined by 39 percent from 1989-2015. When cancer is involved, The Ostrich Defense can be deadly. Even though he had symptoms for years, my dad refused to go the doctor and didn't catch his highly treatable cancer until it was in stage 4. This is unfortunately all too common. According to Cancer Research UK, nearly half of all cancers are diagnosed too late in the United Kingdom. Another way to fight cancer and empower yourself with knowledge is to learn about your family history and what types of cancers you are most likely to be predisposed to. Inform your doctor, screen when necessary, and make sure special attention is paid to these areas during annual check-ups. And, whenever possible, learn how to do routine self-checks (if possible). If, for whatever reason, you are unfamiliar with your family history, use cutting edge technology like 23andMe to learn what your genes can tell you about your present and future health. We can't change our genes, but we can change how we live, which, in many cases, is just as important in avoiding cancer. Everyone can benefit from watching what and how much they eat. Healthy foods fuel your body with cancer-fighting nutrients, while eating too much (particularly processed foods) leads to obesity, which can put you at risk for cancer and a number of other diseases. Never smoking and exercising regularly keeps bodies strong and healthy. Vitamin D is great, but too much exposure to the sun can leave us with not just a tan but also cancer. Sunscreen and moderation are essential to preventing avoidable skin cancers. Healthy lifestyle also applies to a person during treatment. My dad's house was full of books, which, while wonderful for imparting knowledge, made for dusty and bacteria infested living quarters. This is problematic under any circumstance, but an immune system weakened by both cancer and chemo leaves it exposed to a whole range of illnesses. During his treatment, my dad was in and out of the hospital with illnesses most healthy people have never even heard of. Ultimately, he died of sepsis, which he just has easily could have picked up at home as at the hospital. Finally, always get a second opinion. All doctors have a role to play in our society, but they are not all made equal. If you fail to ask for another opinion, you may miss the opportunity for treatment from another doctor, who has had a patient with circumstances similar to your own. You would not buy the first house you look at, so why would go with any doctor before seeing whose experience is most suited to your particular circumstances. Sometimes there is nothing we can to do avoid getting or fighting cancer. Talking about it as if we are a soldier in battle with not just our own bodies but also our psyche certainly won't help. Nevertheless, we are not helpless. We can empower ourselves with knowledge to best prevent cancer and to treat whatever may come our way.

Christi F. - Liberty University Online - Read Essay »

"What it takes to fight cancer?" In order for me to answer this question I need to reflect back over this past year. I remember sitting with my back up against the playground wall of the school I was working at when my mom told me, "They think your dad has lung cancer." I will never forget that moment. It was the beginning of the most difficult year of my life. I live 12 hours away from my parents which made this news even more difficult. I consumed myself with reading everything I could get my hands on about Stage III non-small cell lung cancer. I begged my dad to go through the treatment, and he agreed to try the first round of radiation and chemotherapy. The oncologist was amazing. He would answer all my questions and take calls from me when I could not be in town. My husband and my two preteen girls were so supportive and understanding as I flew back and forth from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Pennsylvania where my dad lived. I decided to quit my job so I could spend time with my dad and help out as much as I could. The doctors were cautiously optimistic. My father was not in good health before he was diagnosed with cancer. He had uncontrolled diabetes for 30 years, congestive heart failure, and many other health concerns. The doctors were shocked when the tumor was responding to the treatment. The oncologist decided to give him two more full doses of chemotherapy due to the possibility of more cancer cells they could not see on the scans. Then the real sickness hit. I would rush into Pa. as the trips to the hospital were more frequent. In December, my dad lost his memory over night. He didn't know who I was or what was going on. The doctors could not explain what was happening. They said that sometimes the chemotherapy can attack the brain cells, or the cancer cells are in the brain. My dad was a shell of the man he was as they had to tie his arms down to the bed because he was becoming violent and wanted to leave. Even though he didn't know me, he would beg me to help him. Then one day he woke up and remembered who his family was. He was getting better, so I decided to continue with my plans to go back to school to get my masters in counseling. I thought it would be a good time to go back to school since I wasn't working. I started school in March. It was then that my dad took a turn for the worse. My brother was recovering from a major neck surgery, but he was able to stay home and take care of my dad. I would travel to Pa. and help my brother take care of him while still trying to continue schooling. I cannot explain the pain I felt watching my dad literally waste away. He lost 60 pounds in two months. He would hallucinate, and eventually he couldn't remember how to walk. He was so tired, and told me that he just can't fight anymore. I called the oncologist, and he said that there is nothing else they can do. My dad was too weak to undergo any more treatment. A month later on April 29th, 2017, my dad passed away. He took his last breath as I ran in the hospice room. I will never forget that moment. So, what does it take to fight cancer? A person diagnosed with cancer does not know if that is a fight that they will win or lose. It is a fight that they didn't choose to be in. My first thought is strength. A person needs strength to endure what they are going to have to endure. Then I thought courage. They will need courage. But I realize that what a person really needs to fight cancer is love and support. They need to feel like this fight is worth it. That there are people in their life who love them and want them around for as long as they can be on this earth. I have learned that fighting cancer is hard, and sometimes the cancer spreads or comes back. Sometimes the cancer seems to win by taking the fight out of the person. It is in that moment that having people who love you, surrounding you, holding your hand, and saying that it's okay, is more important than the fight itself. Complications from Stage III non-small cell lung cancer that spread to the liver was what took my dad from this earth, but I am blessed that I was supported by my family to be able to hold his hand as he fought the best he could. I hope you consider granting me this scholarship. Going back to school while my dad was sick was extremely difficult. I took an 8-week break, and started back on July 3rd. I was able to achieve a 4.0 in my first term. I am currently in the Addictions Counseling program at Liberty University Online. I hope to be accepted into the Mental Health Counseling program. Upon completion, I hope to work with individuals who are struggling with the difficulties of life. One thing I learned as I walked alongside my dad in his battle with cancer is to live every moment to the fullest, and that is what I choose to do. Thank you, Christi Fowler


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 2019 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, 2019. The scholarship is online only, please apply online and do NOT call or email, all applications are received online through the form below. The winners will be notified by the end of August 2019 and their essays will also be published here, on our scholarship program page.

2019 Scholarship Application

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

Leave this empty:

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, 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions