I am Moriah — and I am a Childhood Cancer Survivor!

 

From a very young age I learned to never give up and I have been able to carry that through with everything that has come my way.  When I was three, I was lying awake on the couch when I felt a pounding pain in my head like a bowling ball hit me.  After a few minutes, my mom called the pediatricians office and spoke with the nurse who told us to come in.  My pediatrician ran some tests and the results prompted him to suggest that I may have leukemia.  I was sent by ambulance to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford where we got confirmation of the leukemia diagnosis.  After I heard the news, I did not know how to react.  From that moment, life became endless treatments and doctor’s appointments with little time to be a kid.

 

For the next two and a half years, life was chaotic.  My doctor wanted to aggressively treat the disease with chemotherapy and steroids.  However, because the treatment killed the good blood cells with the bad I had to receive blood and platelet transfusions.  During this time, I also had spinal taps and bone marrow biopsies to make sure the cancer had not spread.  Her plan was aggressive, but my mom trusted her to do what was best for me.  As my hair fell out and my stomach rejected almost everything I ate, my mom remained strong.

 

Reflecting back on this time, I realized how much my mom had to cope with.  She not only had to care for me but my younger sister was a baby at the time of my diagnosis.  Because of the chemotherapy treatments I received I developed a learning disorder.  I have struggled with this since elementary school.  But through the years and with my mother’s support and encouragement i have learned to advocate for my self in school to get the best possible education that I deserve.

 

Being the oldest in my family, my mom encouraged me to be an example for my sisters.  It has taken great responsibility, strength and perseverance.  But I believe if my mom had not been such a good role model for me I would not be able to do the same for my sisters.

 

Since my freshman year in high school, I have been a part of the Prostart Program.  The Prostart Program is for individuals who have an interest in the culinary/baking field.  During my junior year, my team consisting of five students participated in the Prostart Invitational Culinary competition and came in third place.  This year my team decided to participate again in the Prostart competition and came in first place.  That was the defining moment that solidified my desire to go to college and pursue a degree in baking/pastry arts.  We are currently getting ready to compete in the National Prostart Invitational Culinary competition in Baltimore, Maryland.  It’s an exciting time for my teammates and family as we prepare to go to Baltimore.  Even if we don’t win I feel like we have won just by participating in one of the biggest events in our high school career.

 

This fall I will be a student at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island majoring in Baking and Pastry Arts.  I am looking forward to this next chapter in my book of life.  I cannot wait to use the knowledge and experience I have gained at Johnson and Wales to one day run and own a business selling pastries and baked goods that I have created.

 

I survived my leukemia diagnosis, I continue to rise above my learning disability and I am now college bound.  In the eighteen years that I have been on this earth I have discovered the strength and determination within me to build a solid foundation on which to build my dreams.

 

 

-Moriah Shafer

 

 

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