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



My journey with cancer began on my fourth day of kindergarten…


This past summer I was a counselor at Camp Rainbow in Babler State Park, which is a camp for kids with cancer or blood related diseases. My camper showed me that even though she had cancer she wasn’t defined by it. lt took me until middle school to realize that cancer wasn’t who I was, but something that shaped who I was for the better. After being diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age five, my life had drastically changed. lt changed my personality, my dreams and goals, and I have since been able to meet some of my dearest friends who continue to shape my life.


My journey with cancer began on my fourth day of kindergarten, and I was diagnosed as a high-risk patient. The doctors only expected me to live two weeks without treatment, and I was placed on a three-year treatment plan with dozens of chemotherapy treatments, spinal taps, and thousands of pills. I missed more than half of my first semester of kindergarten, isolating me from my peers. Physically, I had surgical scars, no hair, and I was constantly sick. The heavy treatments sometimes limited me in my daily activities, and whenever my immune system was not up to par I was home-bound. Cancer changed my childhood into one of caution instead of adventure.


After having cancer my perspective shifted. Leukemia caused me to become mature, empathetic, and dedicated to helping people. Although I was a young girl, I was forced to mature to understand the illness I was fighting and how to defeat it. lt caused me to always seem more grown up than I actually was. Cancer turned me into a stronger and more empathetic person. I was more aware of other people’s suffering and feelings, causing a yearning in me to want to help them. Ever since I had ALL, all I have wanted to do in the future is to help other kids with cancer or life threatening diseases.


Cancer changed my dreams of becoming a teacher to becoming someone like a nurse or doctor that help cures cancer. Today, I still have that same passion to help people, which is created from my continued thirst for knowledge and volunteering at Camp Rainbow. Over the course of my treatment I met many people from the hospital or from organizations such as Camp Rainbow. From ages six through eight I attended Camp Rainbow. My drive to help people lead me to volunteering, and to be a counselor at the camp that I had once attended.


Ever since volunteering these past two summers, I have made some of my closest friends because we were all in some way affected by cancer. My friends, both campers and counselors, inspire me every day to chase my dreams of helping people affected by cancer. The people in my life remind me that even through the hardships of battling a deadly disease, there is a silver lining. lf I didn’t have cancer, I would have never met some of the most inspirational, caring people in my life who continue to positively influence my life today.


Throughout my high school years, teachers and counselors have always encouraged us to start thinking of our after high school plan. As a freshman, I had no idea what l wanted to “be when I grew up” which made the task of choosing a major daunting.  During my sophomore year of high school, I took Honors Chemistry. Many of my friends seemed to hate it; however, I loved the class and thrived in it. My teacher encouraged me to join the Biodiesel club to learn more about chemistry. This past year I took AP Chemistry which was the hardest class I have ever taken, yet the most rewarding. The class included a three hour lab that started an hour before the start of the school day.  My senior year I plan on taking Semi-Qualitative Analysis and Organic Chemistry. My experience in these Chemistry classes and the Biodiesel club has helped me decide to major in Chemistry.


There are so many facets in the field of Chemistry that it affords many possible careers. By majoring in Chemistry, I have the option of going to medical school after getting my Bachelor’s degree, or I could go into Pediatric Oncology research. While, I intend to obtain a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry with a focus on medicine, I know that the field of Chemistry will provide me with so many career options. Deciding what subject in which to major is a daunting task, and choosing a fulfilling career is even harder. However, focusing on my favorite subject, chemistry, has given me tremendous peace of mind. l’ve learned that you need to choose a career for which you have a true passion. I believe I have found that in the field of Pediatric Oncology and can’t wait to enroll in college to start my journey with my major in Chemistry.


Being diagnosed with Leukemia was one of the hardest times of my life; however, I came out of it a better person. Cancer definitely changed who I am, what I want to be, and affected who I would meet in my life, but I wouldn’t change anything that happened. I am proud of who I have become and what I plan to do with my life. After realizing that having cancer did not define who I was, but helped shape me into a better person, I am encouraged to strive to follow my dreams and to continue to be a positive role model for kids who are suffering from the same illness I had ten years ago. A young cancer survivor told me this year, “be where your feet are”. As long as my feet are on earth, I will be fighting for a cure for those who aren’t as lucky as I was. Cancer may have changed my life, but it never took it, and for that I am forever grateful.


~Sarah Peterson


I’m Faith Peyron – This is the advice I can give to you.


For my essay topic I decided to do it in the format of a letter to another person struggling with cancer. This letter serves as my story as well as my advice to others battling an illness.


Dear Cancer Patient,


I know what you’re going through. I have sat in the same spot that you are sitting in right now. The same white walls of the same room that you are confined to. I’ve been an inmate at the prison that you are now living in that they call a hospital. I’ve been through the same pain and struggle that you are enduring right now. So since I have lived through it, this is the advice I can give to you.


#1. Do not let cancer waste Your time.
#2.Do not let cancer change who you are.
#3. Do not let cancer win.


From my experience with cancer, I have learned many lessons about how to cope when fighting this disease. To explain, I’m going to have to tell you about my story.


1. I used my sickness as an excuse to submit to my weakness. After my surgery when my cancer tumor was removed, I was in a lot of pain. I suffered nerve damage from my waist down which affected my walking ability. I had severe back pain and I was bedridden for weeks. As time went on, I got so weak from laying in bed all day every day. I lost 40 lbs in muscle. I was easily fatigued and simple tasks became chores. I could barely stand up for more that 15 seconds without feeling winded and wanting to just lay back down and go to sleep. As I lost my muscles I lost my desire to do anything. All I wanted to do was rest. I did not befriend any of the patients on my cancer floor, I did not want to leave my room. I decided to stay hidden and sulk.


2. While I was sick, all I could do was focus on the pain and the sadness. I got sick of being confined to the hospital. I was tired of being woken up every night and never getting more than a few hours of sleep because the nurses had to check my vitals. Oh the nurses. I felt so bad for them. At one stage of my sickness I had really become fed up with everyone that I had gotten so snippy and impatient with people. Every little thing that they did frustrated me and at that point I didn’t care enough to put on a smile and be kind. This was alarming to anyone that knew me personally because acting out like this to other people was against my character. I used to be patient and kind to others. I always had the mindset that I should reach out to people with happiness. But now I had no energy to be happy for others if I didn’t feel happy on the inside. I treated my family horribly. I blew up at them for forcing me to do things that I didn’t want to do, even though they were doing it for my own good. They sacrificed so much for me and I rarely even thought about thanking them. I became selfish in this sense. I pushed away my friends at school.  I stopped responding to people’s messages on social media, I wouldn’t let people visit me anymore. I isolated myself, because of my insecurities and because of self pity. I was honestly pathetic.


3. The depression all started when I lost my hair. I remember the day like it was yesterday.  I was sitting on my bed surrounded by my mom and friends and I was trying on hats with a fake smile on my face. And suddenly I looked at what I was doing and realized that I had no hair. I was bald, I had lost a part of myself. So in that moment I broke down. I got angry and cried because I hated the hats. I was so insecure about my bare head. When I looked in the mirror I felt almost naked and vulnerable. So under no circumstances did I let anyone look at my bare head. Not even my parents. I felt ashamed of not having hair. I had no confidence in myself and that’s the first way in which I failed. The depression only grew from there. I’d find myself having fits of tears, just sobbing over how I hated myself and the life that I was living. I wanted to give up. I was so blind.


You see this whole story is one in which I am not proud of. My journey through cancer although a battle I physically won, was a war that I mentally lost. With my cancer I got through it because of the amazing people around me that did not rest or breath a clear breath until I was in that hall at Children’s Hospital ringing that golden survivor bell. But on my part I had epically failed. I let cancer kick my butt more than I should have allowed it. So now that you are where I was 3 years ago, please take my words to heart.


Make the most of your time while you have this chance to do what you couldn’t when you were busier. Write a book, a song, learn a new language, do anything that you dreamed of doing when you wished you had more free time to let your creativity be the most important thing. Next, don’t let cancer darken your heart. Let cancer bring out the positivity and strength in you. Let your true light shine through . Do not allow it to make you cold. And finally, do not let cancer control you and make you lose hope. There is a  difference between getting through it and conquering it. Conquer cancer with your head held high. I believe that everything happens for a reason. So cancer is the time to shape you into a stronger human being and prepare you to appreciate life and live it to the fullest.



Your friend, Faith



Growth & Perseverance


The life of a twelve year old kid is fun, easy, and enjoyable. This is the most care-free time in a person’s life. It is filled with absolute bliss. This is true of my very own life. Going to school, playing baseball, and hanging out with friends seemed to be the only concerns I had at twelve years old. Then suddenly, my life took a turn for the worst. I was playing baseball, and I felt some pain in my right hip. It was causing me to perform at a much lower level than before. The next step was a trip to the doctor’s office. Little did I know, this uncomfortable pain was much more severe than I expected. I was no longer considered an ordinary, vibrant twelve year old kid.


That pain turned out to be a malignant tumor. I was then diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. The usual patterns of my twelve year old life soon had to be amended. Biweekly trips to Children’s Healthcare became a normal routine. Chemotherapy and radiation affected my body in unnatural ways. It was difficult for I have never experienced such discomfort like I did during this time. I was an active and energetic guy, who was enthusiastic about life. Cancer came and it was absolutely devastating. Playing baseball and running with my friends was no longer an option for me, simply because my treatments were causing my body to withstand so much exhaustion. This was the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life. However, I knew that with perseverance and the help of my family, and my faith in God, I would make it through this tough period. It was miraculous for after seven months, I was healed and thankful to God for giving me strength to endure.


The protocol after one is cured of cancer is consistent checkups and screenings. The affected area, in this case, my right hip, is scanned for any signs of cancer cells redeveloping. I was on this same recovery path for some time. The scans looked positive each time, but after almost five years, the positive report was now dubious. I went in for a routine evaluation, and something appeared on my right hip. After undergoing a biopsy surgery, the Ewing’s sarcoma had come back. I certainly knew that a relapse was possible, but I never imagined it becoming a reality for me. I was to say the least, very shocked and overwhelmed. I am once again going to war with cancer. Because of my last victory, my excitement about being accepted to college, and my continued faith in God, I am prepared to battle


My eventful past has definitely made me a better man and prepared me for this upcoming challenge. However, I trust and believe God’s Word in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope”. Therefore, I will press on!



~Zachary Thompson