I’m Emma Paulson…This is My Survivor Story

 

Ask anyone and I am sure they would say being diagnosed with cancer is the worst thing imaginable. No doubt, that’s true. I still shudder at the memory of hearing the words “Emma, you have leukemia” for the first time. Yet, over the past several years, I have come to learn firsthand that it’s possible to tum life’s biggest challenges into something positive and life changing.

 

My life changed completely on January l7th, 2012, when I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. As a high school student/athlete who had always enjoyed having good health, the diagnosis came as a complete shock. I immediately spent the next two weeks at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin undergoing intense chemotherapy. The effects of the chemo, the constant stream of doctors and nurses, and the numbing reality that I was now a cancer patient were terrifying. At the same time, I was flooded with the love of family and friends coming to visit, bringing with them gifts and comfort items, and keeping me company in a frightening and unfamiliar place. Looking back now, that overwhelming love and support was so important in helping me endure those first difficult weeks and the tough road that lay ahead.

 

While at the hospital, I also came to notice the other children and teens that had spent weeks and even months at the hospital, many of whom were not as fortunate as I was. I knew then I wanted to help these brave kids in some small way. I thought about starting my own foundation to help ease the pain and difficulty of my fellow patients. But due to the intensity of my chemotherapy I had to be patient with my “patient project.”

 

As I entered my maintenance phase of chemo, and my energy began to return, my Mom and I began brainstorming ideas for our “mission” and potential names for it. On a cold Saturday morning, at our favorite coffee shop, we decided to make it happen. Emma Rose – A Patient Helping Patients was born on the 10-month anniversary of my diagnosis. The foundation has two primary missions: We collect small comfort items such as fuzzy socks, lip balms, hand sanitizers, coloring books and games for the brave kids in the cancer unit at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. We also seek to raise awareness about a little known cancer statistic, namely that only 3.8 percent of all cancer-related funding nationwide goes towards childhood cancer research. That simply needs to change. I now have more than 12,000 followers on our Facebook page who continue to support my mission and we continue to bring in around 50 gift bags for the patients each month. It makes me so happy to be able to bring some joy to the patients who have to endure so much. I knew immediately how they felt.

 

I finished my two and a half year treatment in May 2014, just a week before my high school graduation. For the next two years I came to clinic almost monthly to check blood counts and get a physical exam. I was cancer free, happy, and loving nursing school. I was finally getting to live a normal life that I was robbed of while I was in treatment. However, on December 27th of 2016, after a month of suspiciously low blood counts, I went in for a bone marrow biopsy to confirm what we suspected: relapse.

 

I was admitted that night and started a treatment protocol even more intense than the first time. I spent the entirety of the months of January, April, & June inpatient. I never had any complications during my first treatment but this time I seemed to get every complication possible. I had a blood clot, allergic reactions to several medications, developed idiopathic pneumonia syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, c-diff, & neutropenic pan colitis, and ended up
septic in the ICU twice. In order to kick this cancer for good, it was decided a bone marrow transplant was my best option. Fortunately, my brother was a 10/10 match. I had extremely intense chemo and total body radiation 2x a day to kill off my old marrow and I received my new life saving marrow on June 1st. I’ve been recovering at home ever since and am seen weekly in clinic to check blood levels. I still have side effects as a direct result of the treatment and
transplant but the doctors are very happy with my progress.

 

My disease, difficult as it has been, has opened many doors. “P4P”, as I call my page, continues to grow and reach more people every day. Through my Facebook page, I have also been able to share facts about pediatric cancer research and the desperate need for more funds to combat this horrible disease. Great progress has been made in treating the disease. But we could be doing so much more!

 

My disease has also impacted my career choice in a profound way. Before my diagnosis, the thought of being a nurse was the furthest thing from my mind. Medical treatments scared me. Very little scares me now. My dream is to be a nurse in the bone marrow transplant clinic at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Someday I hope to make a difference at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the hospital that helped me. And I hope to bring a little joy to other children
suffering from cancer, hopefully inspiring them to do the same.

 

~~Emma Paulson

 

Meet Mikayla Helmond – A Survivor!

 

I am an interesting case. At least that’s how someone once described me when I was six. That someone was an attending physician and he was speaking to a group of resident doctors, outside my room in the P.I.C.U. at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I didn’t hear him call me that, because I was still incubated and heavily sedated, and attached to no less than eight machines at the time. My mom heard him though and it upset her. Now more than ten years later of being a Cancer survivor, I realize why people find my story so interesting. Turns out, I am an enigma. The Cancer I had was uncommon and aggressive, and mostly found in adolescents. Mom always said that I did everything ahead of schedule. I spoke young. I walked young. I even understood that kids can die, when I was very young. This understanding can really mess with a kid. I am lucky though, because I was never treated as a sick child, so I never acted as a sick child.

 

When all my hair fell out, my parents bought me a wig, so that I could look somewhat like the other first graders. I however considered it more of an accessory than a necessity. One time during treatment, I was at a party with a bounce house. After bouncing myself into a sweaty and nauseous mess, I hopped out of the bounce house, whipped my wig off, and handed it to my mother who was standing on the other side of the yard. Apparently, this caused many gasps and adults trying to hide their shock.  Some of the guests didn’t know I had Cancer, and nobody had ever conveyed to me that we shouldn’t just fling our wigs off when we get hot.

 

As I lived in the hospital every three weeks for a year, to receive chemotherapy, I never knew that many people did not expect me to live. They were right to think that I may die, because my friend Jasmine, who was also six, and also had Ewing’s Sarcoma, died toward the end of the year of my treatment.  Being a survivor has been a blessing and a burden at times. The blessing is obvious. I’m still here. Totally rebuilt inside, but alive. The burden comes when people reduce me to my diagnosis. I am more than a Cancer survivor. I am a teenager who loves going to the beach with girlfriends. I am a Nutella addict. I am a lover of all things to do with soccer. I take pride at beating boys in ping pong in gym class. I can’t imagine loving anyone the way I love my little brother, Braden.  And most of all, I believe that I was put on this earth to be a pediatric oncology nurse.

 

Being a nurse is more than taking nursing classes and passing tests.  It’s about seeing your patients as real people with individual needs, and not just as cases. I believe that my experiences will allow me to be the kind of nurse who can change Tegaderm bandages, and flush Broviac lines, and then follow up with an impromptu hospital room dance party.  I’ll treat my patients as kids who happen to have Cancer. Don’t get me wrong, Cancer sucks! Daily shots, losing your hair and surgery are not fun. But it’s about the overall experience. I still go back to the floor where I was treated at RWJUH to visit and when I walk through the door, my nurses greet me like Norm from Cheers. I hope to get to be on their side of the door someday, and teach my patients that with hope, all things are possible.

 

If awarded the Faith Hope and Love Jesus, Inc. College Scholarship I would apply the funds to my outstanding tuition and/or books bill in my upcoming fall semester in order to lower my loan amount.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.

 

~Mikayla Helmond

 

 

The Day I Found Out About My Disease

 

I’ll never forget the day I found out about my disease. I was in the first grade at the time, and I was sitting in class when my stomach started to hurt. I went down to the clinic and the nurse said my temperature was 104 degrees. My mom and dad came to pick me up at school. When they saw me, they said I was as pale as a ghost. My parents took me to see our family doctor. The doctor ran a couple of tests and said they would have to take me to the emergency room at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. Aside from finding out about my illness, I will remember this day because of my mom.

 

There was a huge line when we got there and we were told to sit down and wait. We had been there for quite a while, when I needed to use the restroom. My mom and I went to the restroom and when we came out, I almost fainted. My mom started to freak out. She went up to the receptionist and said we have been waiting for about five hours now  and I had to be seen by someone. The receptionist said there are still families ahead of us waiting to be seen. The receptionist then said we will take her in but if the other parents get angry, I’m sending them to you. My mom told the receptionist to send them to her and she’d take care of it.

 

They took me back into the ER and gave me a bed. The doctors said they got me there in the nick of time because my spleen was eating my blood, so my blood count was down to l When I heard that, I looked across the room to my mom who was crying. I often wonder what would have happened if my mom hadn’t had her little melt down that day. The doctors gave me a blood transfusion and began to run test on me to try and figure out what was wrong.

 

The doctors said they thought it might be cancer. My parents were starting to worry. It turns out that I have a disease called spherocytosis. I have a blood disorder where my body doesn’t know what a good red blood cell is and a bad red blood cell is. I was put on medication and sent home with a follow up appointment in six months. Unfortunately, I continued to get worse and after being in and out of the hospital for three months, the doctors removed my spleen. I now take medication to try and keep my immune system strong and there is a good chance I will continue on meds for the rest of my life, but thanks to my family and God, I still have my life.

 

By Katelyn Kundtz

 

 

My name is Javon Freeman – A Survivor

 

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education. As I developed from a small foundation of life, I was always told that “knowledge is power” and being in a society that is constantly advancing, education is a thriving component that results changes. I am dedicated to pursuing an education because I see how the different levels of knowledge correlates to the placement of an individual in society. In all honesty, I was blessed to be accepted into the University of Massachusetts Amherst and this struck my heart because this is an opportunity in life that does not come around easily.

 

I feel like I am a strong and solid young man with a head on his shoulders because I only want to continue projecting my trajectory in the way of success. The door of college has been opened for a reason and I am taking the initiative to control my future, although I do not have all the funds for college, but I will put forth the effort to find scholarships that support the small dreams of young minds trying to find a way toward success. I feel like I would be worthy of this scholarship because this would be an extra blessing supporting my thirst and strive to do better” I am extremely looking forward, to attending college right after high school because I want to nourish and secure my drive for knowledge. Also, coming from a small community I have been consumed of the same things for my entire life, I would love to, gain a new perspective of life, experience life-changing situations and network with amazing people who have common goals in life.

 

If I was awarded this scholarship, I would highly appreciate the people who recognize the drive and motivation in young minds, that understand the struggles of needing funds to spark the future. The common issue of not having becomes a barrier for young students aspiring to continue pursuing knowledge. I emphasize that, to illustrate how typically students are faced with uncomfortable factors surrounding debt, therefore they are forced to let money overwhelm them only to be a student. My goal is to overcome this economic hardship before it becomes a barrier to my education, because coming from nothing college is the security to my future.

 

The more wealthy something is, the more the value drastically increases. I understand that nothing in this lifetime is free and definitely not the value of education, but if I can come close to maximizing my potential no price can amount to that. Honestly, what makes it more severe is that, I deeply internalize and understand that you only have one chance to captivate or someone else will. I just want to make my path as clear as possible, minimizing as many obstacles as I can because once you are off the path, there is no turning back. A smart man learns from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. I want college to be my foundation, not my downfall.

 

~Javon Freeman

 

 

What Does Survivorship Mean to You?

 

Suddenly I stopped on a page when I was flipping through my history textbook. Transfixed by a photo of concentration camp survivors recently rescued, I studied the image closely. They were all weak from malnourishment and you could see their ribs. Many had cuts and scars from forced labor or abuse. All their heads were shaved and they wore the same uniform to strip them of their identity. Everything was taken from them, and they were dehumanized. I could not help but think that this photo is printed in potentially thousands of copies of history books to represent what concentration camp survivors looked like.

 

To think of what a survivor is, an important question begs to be answered: “What did they survive?” Clues like the uniforms and bulging bones give context to what they endured to now be considered a survivor. People can survive all kinds of things. Like cancer survivors, painted as sadly thin, protruding veins, bald heads, surgery scars, missing body parts, weak, and the same hospital gown unifom or ribbon with respective color(s). Do we tend to view cancer survivors similarly to how we view war survivors; both suffering unimaginable pain and terror, often with visual and mental differences or indications of a survivor?

 

Survivorship does not necessarily depict a weak, helpless, or dehumanized person who had just enough strength to survive. However, cancer is like fighting a war. A one-man war within yourself where you are your only ally and the enemy is within. Physically, your body and organs fail. Mentally, you must keep yourself going strong, but can’t help crying when visitors leave, both leaving scars. But surviving this war is more than the image of the scars, the loss of hair, and in some cases, the loss of body parts that cause you to stick out like a sore thumb, for better or for worse. Gradually, you regain weight and strength (in many more ways than you may initially realize), your natural skin color returns, your hair grows out, and you’re free from the restraints of hospital gowns.

 

Survivorship is more than the helpless image people like to create to associate with what you endured. Surviving is walking across the stage at my high school graduation eight days after my last round of chemotherapy. Surviving is starting college three months after my last round of chemo and two weeks after my last surgery. It’s playing around with hats, scarves, and awkward in-between-length hairstyles. It’s pushing myself to make the dean’s list during my first semester of college (of which I am still on to this day). It’s walking into my biannual oncologist checkup and the nurses not recognizing me at first. It’s my oncologist hugging me and nearly breaking out in tears seeing the difference from a weak, scared, and frail girl to a strong and healthy woman. It’s knowing that if I have the strength to beat cancer, I have the strength to do anything, if I try.

 

Survivorship, to me, is breaking the stigma that having cancer is the end. While it is still such a traumatic event that affects many people and their families, it is still possible to achieve your dreams despite navigating such a difficult obstacle. Survivors are just normal people who were dealt some difficult cards, and we play them the best we can, just like anyone else.

 

~~Kelsey Qualters

 

 

When Do You Become an Adult?

 

As an aspect of our society, many people believe that we are an official adult when we reach to the age of eighteen or twenty one. Yes, we are able to speak freely, make our own choice and do things that we cannot do as a kid. However, we may only be biologically and legally known as an adult instead of actually being mentally mature enough to handle responsibilities as one. One can be young, but have a sophisticated mindset while others can be older and have a naive mindset. Psychologist Carol Dweckis interpret the word mindset as “a self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves.” If one know what’s right and wrong, they simply conquer the first step of  acknowledgement as the base of being an adult. As a child” we have all the time in the world to explore and to develop our imagination harmlessly.

 

As Roman Payne quotes:
“Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both ‘at one with’ and ‘separate from’ the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as ‘learning to survive’ is fundamental to the body…To wander is to be alive.”

 

Our childhood is a very important process for our transition to adulthood because it is the process in which our personalities and mentalities form from. Also, it is a very attentive stage of life. In particular, kids commonly pick up various details and learn from things that we do, whether we intend it or not. For example, a young girl saw an adult helping an elderly that is in needs and the next day, she saw an older man having trouble crossing the street so she kindly insists to help him. That was an example of a sense of taking care of others. Most importantly, we flourish from our childhood experiences.

 

Generally, begin an adult are determined by just what we are allowed to do instead of what we are capable of doing.
Everyone’s experience is different and individually unique. Adulthood are often consists of many different aspects and it is most certainly not an easy part of life. A person may notice that many skills will begin to come into play as we built on the role of being morally responsible. Those skills included the basic decision making, trust, time management, understanding and many more.

 

As we begin to go into adulthood, we began to give contribution to the society. We would devote to people inside and outside of our safe zone. We start off by taking care of our family we was born in then to creating our own family. Building a family require unconditional love and a very personal sacrifice of time and freedom. As a matter of fact, we would come to realize what’s important in our life and how to take situations seriously. Our choices are likely to be guided by the values in which we are committed to and how that reflect a reasonable process that leads to your decisions.

 

To put it in perspective, an individual will come to realize the importance of other people. Most likely, we would recite on what people with more experiences had told us and take their advice. At that point, facing the reality and facts could become a priority. We held an awareness of how our hard work took effect. There might be times when a person regret spending years doing nothing productive. Therefore, a mature adult would try to make up for it or change up their lifestyle for goods. It is the time that we learned to maintain the balance between good and bad time.

 

As you may already know. each person has the right to be in complete control of their own life. Hence, every decision we’ve made are held upon us. In a level, we have no one to truly rely on because we are the one that we should be depending on. Furthermore, being able to work independently is a must. It help us to avoid having fear and take risks to new things. Knowing what we need and want can helps us to provide a solution for when we face a problem. For example, when an international student came to the United States, he or she learns to adapt to a complete new lifestyle based off of their decisions and existing skills. Letting others alter your dependence.

 

In conclusion, there is no precise timing of when we actually become an adult. It is the matter of how we grow into that role. Furthermore, adulthood is mainly the capability to live independently in a responsible way. It’s become the stage when we learn from our mistakes while cultivating into our new life. We may also find people often quoting “Failure is the first step towards success”. The milestone of a child going into adulthood is a huge step, especially
when it means facing the society in a mature mindset.

 

 

~~Kate Chan

 

 

Second Chances

 

Cancer is a word that my family knows well. My mother’s uncle died of lung cancer, and my father’s grandmother and aunt both passed away after long battles with breast cancer. However, never in their wildest dreams could they imagine hearing this word uttered about the health of their son. Moreover,little did I know how this disease would help me develop into a more positive individual who has realized his true calling in life.

 

As long as I can remember, I have never taken anything too seriously. My mission in life has always involved humor. I remember a time when my second grade teacher told my mother during a parent-teacher conference that I “had perfect comedic timing.” When he stated this, I swelled with pride; it felt even better than getting all A’s on a report card. Even though I consider my parents to be humorous as well, they have always expected my sister and me to work and behave to our fullest potential.

 

Sometimes, they were a little too strict, and I always wondered how my friends could get away with things that I could not. As a result, I started staying in my room. To me, this seemed easier than doing something to get myself into trouble with them. I guess that this is normal teenage behavior, but I remember keeping many things from them that I just could not communicate.

 

This phase in my life happened during the beginning of my sophomore year of high school. In a way, I became somewhat of a zombie right before I was diagnosed.  I loafed around, slept for countless hours, and wasted most nights staying up performing mundane tasks. I had lost the wonder and zest for life that I had felt in prior years. Although I still enjoyed making people laugh, I had no focus or direction for my future at all. Worst of all, I felt the relationship that I had with my parents start to dwindle.

 

I was diagnosed with stage IV diffuse large B-cell lymphoma at the end of my sophomore year. At first, I could not get rid of a cough. I then started getting sick every time I did any physical activity. This was not stupendous news for me since I was a distance runner on the track team. At first, my doctor thought it was mononucleosis. However, after I lost about fifteen pounds within two weeks, my doctor ordered blood tests. My father took me to all of those visits, and he was the first of my parents to hear that cancer might be a possibility. His face went white, and my heart dropped. I never want to see that look on my father’s face again. He called my mother, and I am glad I could not hear her reaction. I clearly remember that my first concern was that I did not want to worry them. I wanted to make them happy and convince them that I would not perish.

 

I tried to go through my treatment with a positive attitude. I could not stand the look of pity that everyone gave me; thus, I tried to make everyone continually smile.  Because I could tell how worried my parents and sister were about me, I always told them that everything would work out. Eventually, I guess I said it enough to believe it myself. I had long talks and prayers with my parents during treatment, and somehow, that awful disease brought us extremely closer as a family. Although it may sound unorthodox, I will forever feel grateful for this part of the experience
even though I know that they still worry about juggling hospital bills with college expenses.

 

Our family dynamic was not the only transformation I experienced through cancer. The whole grueling experience showed me the clock of my life; it forced me to notice how death waits around the corner, preparing for its next victim. I realized that I have to take every opportunity that life has to offer. During treatment, I had urges that I had never experienced before. I sat in bed and fantasized about bounding up mountains, learning to surf, and trying exotic foods. I just wanted the chance to make something of my life, and now I feel extremely blessed that I have
been given a second chance to do exactly that.

 

Fighting this battle opened my eyes to my true purpose in life. During the worst moments of my treatment, I fell in love with movies and media more than ever, escaping into them and leaving the reality of my condition behind. These epic tales taught me wonderful stories about life and the magic that surrounds us. I was truly inspired by them. They helped me trudge through the toughest time of my life, and I hope that one day I will do the same for someone else. Through this art, I can bring light to major issues to millions of people. Once I learn and master my craft, I will use my experiences to write about important and amazing events through television and film.

 

Soon, through the power of writing, my path will lead me to help, not just the people around me, but also a global community in times of need, even if it is just to spread laughter and joy throughout the world.  Many elements of battling cancer were excruciating; however,I have emerged into an individual who better knows the beauty of life that God has to offer, the kindness of others, the importance of family relationships, and the courage to take chances and chase dreams. By continuing my education through media and cinema studies, I plan to spread.

 

 

~~Dawson Furnish

 

 

My Story of Survival.

 

On June 6,2003 my life completely changed forever. This was the day I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer at the age of 4 1/2. Many may choose to dwell on the negatives of being diagnosed with T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – the surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and the years that I spent in a hospital however,I choose to focus on the positives. I strongly believe that everything in life happens for a reason.  Despite my youth, I still have some vivid memories during that time.

 

For over two years, I basically lived at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, undergoing  treatment. I still recall a cold hospital room’ watching the Cartoon Network, and being distracted by the incessant “beeping” of my IV. My red hair began to fall out shortly after treatment and I recall handing clumps of it to the doctors and nurses treating me. My hair would then disappear for the next two years.  Shortly thereafter, in pre-kindergarten class, I went to the bathroom and a girl told me that I was using the wrong bathroom. She directed me to the boy’s bathroom on the other side of the cafeteria. The girl assumed I was a boy since I did not have any hair.

 

I recall one of the of the chemotherapy drugs I received was a very painful shot in my leg.  Each time I received this shot, there was more of a chance for me to have negative and potential life threatening reaction to it. I would sit on my Mom’s lap and by the end of that particular drug treatment I was able to sit very still, take the pain and not even cry.  Conversely, I also have some fond memories like the hospital playroom where all the kids got to leave their rooms and have fun like normal kids. That would be the highlight of my hospital stays, I got to go and play in the playroom. I also became an expert at spin art and air hockey.

 

Each year, I am invited to attend Seany’s Camp Reach for the Sky. The camp invites families with children diagnosed with cancer. The Seany Foundation’s main goal is to bring awareness tc childhood cancer. Every year 10,400 children under the age of fifteen are diagnosed with cancer. Seany’s Camp Reach for the Sky allow families affected by cancer to escape the hospitals and enjoy camp. I have made some really good friends friends throughout my experiences with Seany’s Camp Reach for the Sky. Most of my friends from this camp, I only see them one week per year but our bond is such that we feel we have known each other our entire lives living. One close amazing, and inspiring friend was named Ryan. He passed away this year. I will miss his crazy dancing and his sense of humor. I have seen many friends lose their battle with cancer and pass away but I have struggled endured and survived.

 

Because of my tribulations, I am a better person. I do not take life for granted. I choose to appreciate just one thing, each and every day. If you choose to accept me for the Faith, Love & Jesus Inc, scholarship, I will choose to appreciate being a college student, each and every day.

 

~Natasha Barsness

 

I’m Denise Esposito – A Survivor!

 

“You are too young to understand”, “You do not know how to make decisions for yourself’, “Why is it you feel like you know everything?” People have an extremely peculiar way of posing such questions to teenagers. Many adults feel as though we are naive, ignorant and much too inexperienced to even contrive a remotely intelligent solution to the many problems that arise within our lives. We are classified as unwise due to our short existence, and therefore
almost the majority of the world is under the false pretense that we are incompetent.

 

But what is it that finally allows one to become sage? What age is it expected that a young teenager transforms into someone taken seriously? What is it that admits us into the exclusive group of which is wisdom?  They say that teens are too young to really grasp the true essence of life and be able to embody its actual grief. But what happens when that teenager has undergone a huge amount of suffering and even became involved in experiences a person in their forties might never have encountered?

 

Fifteen. Fifteen, was the exact age I was when I obtained my first dose of the “real world”. Officially it goes by Low Grade Osteogenic Sarcoma, unofficially it can be summed up into one word that everyone understands; cancer. It is exceptionally ironic that just before my sudden diagnosis I viewed my life as being completely quintessential; appearing that I was commencing an abrupt hatred for my typical, mainstream being. However, that little sentiment
did not seem to last long. In some of my worst days, I began to come to realize what I truly desired; my normal, somewhat boring, uneventful life back, although, my mother would constantly reassure me that we would “create a new normal”. Mentally, when you are sick all that you think about is getting better, rarely dwelling on your current state. But, when you are finally in remission that is when it all hits you.

 

Your body begins to undergo withdrawals and it is almost as if you spend your time just waiting for the day when you receive the news you have heard once before. That twinge, that inkling of trepidation never seems to vacate your own mind, no matter the hours spent trying to expel it from the brain. Yet, the discomfort is not the ultimate worst component of this disease. For me, yes, the pain was agonizing and the nights sleepless, but in all honesty the most deplorable fragment of this whole situation was the realizations it brought about. So many instances where you are under the illusion that an abundant amount of your closest friends and family will be there for you. You have it set in your mind that those are undoubtedly the people you can count on. Nevertheless, I learned the hard way only a handful stay true to their word.

 

I understood that people have busy lives and that it is an extreme hassle to come into the city on a weekday to visit me in the hospital; so I was okay with the fact that I did not have all of my friends there with me at my first, second and third surgeries. But what about the other three surgeries underwent? Where were they then? Was a detrimental disease not significant enough to be considered and penciled into their schedule? If that desolate emotion was not enough, I was also experiencing something else at the time. Due to the fact that my cancer was only low grade, my case did not call for chemotherapy and or radiation. One would believe this to be quite a blessing, still at times I felt almost as if, people would downplay all that I went through because I did not need more aggressive treatment.

 

I was lucky enough that the doctors caught the tumor at an early stage. Unfortunately, because of this I convinced myself I was out of place. Looking around, I was surrounded by a multitude of sweet, precious children going through something much more abhorrent than I was. Subsequently, an intense emotion of guilt arose within me, why was I feeling so bad for myself when everyone there had much more problematic issues? It was as if when being in my own natural habitat I was the “sick one” that many pitied, but in the hospital I was the “lucky one”. In both of my daily environments I was on the opposite end of the spectrum; at home I was in too bad of a state to attend to my usual doings but in the hospital I was the one healthier than most. I felt isolated and alone, no one knew just exactly the thoughts that resided in the back of my mind.

 

Fifteen. Fifteen was the exact age I was when I obtained my first dose of the “real world”.  Many would argue that it is just too soon to be viewed as enlightened but I like to believe that I have risen on the waiting list for spot in the exclusive club of which is wisdom.

 

~Denise Esposito

 

This is Shiaterrica’s Story…

 

At the age of eight, I was diagnosed with stage three osteosarcoma in my right leg and immediately received intense rounds of chemotherapy.  In an eleven hour surgery, surgeons removed my entire femur from my right leg.  Afterwards, I was always told that I would not be able to do certain things, mainly in the educational area, but time and time again, I have proven medical expects wrong.  I have been a straight A’s student since being released from the hospital.

 

I have achieved top ten every year, and i have ranked number five in my class.  Having cancer did not take my life.  Instead, cancer gave me a second chance at life.  That is why I am so determined to succeed and make the best of the second chance God has given me and become a pediatric oncologist.

 

I plan to major in cellular, molecular, and microbial biology at Auburn University.  I plan to attend medical school to specialize in oncology and pediatrics.  My career goal is to become a pediatric oncologist.  Because of my personal experience with cancer, I want to help other kids fight the deadly disease.  I want to comfort my patients because I understand their struggles and pains.  I want to inspire and encourage them that they can become cancer free like me.

 

During my career as a pediatric oncologist, I will establish medical centers in my poor neighborhood because there are no clinics.  Also, I will establish medical centers in third world countries because so many people do need immediate access to health care.  My medical center will have everything my patients will possibly need.  If someone has a heart attack, my medical center will have cardiologists and heart surgeons on deck.  If someone has third degree burns, my medical center will have a burn unit.  Even if someone has a mental or emotional breakdown, psychologists will be just a step away.  I plan on giving my community one of the best medical centers in the state that has all the latest medical equipment and technology.

 

Because chemotherapy damages major organs, I want to find an alternative medicine to treat cancer.  Chemotherapy has just as many cons as pros.  It damages major organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidney.  Chemotherapy also damages people’s hearing ability and vision.  I do not want a patient who just have battled lung cancer for two years, now have to struggle with heart complications because of chemotherapy.  I want to find a medicine that will have no damaging effects.

 

My motto is ‘Reach for the Stars’.  I have always been a girl with big dreams: however, big dreams usually comes at a price.  This scholarship will enable me to pay my college fees and help me get an education, which I will use my education to help others.  I will assist young caner patients by being a pediatric oncologist, I will assist the people in my neighborhood by establishing a medical center there, and I will assist the world by developing a new treatment for cancer.

 

 

~ Shiaterrica Williams