Meet Our Scholars

Meet Allison

Meet Allison

years awarded




Scholar Quote: I have been forever changed, and I appreciate the smallest triumphs because of these overwhelming tragedies. I am a survivor.

I was young, a mere three years old, when I relayed the pain I was feeling “in my tummy” to my mother, who accepted the words of a toddler and called the pediatrician. Appointments were scheduled, prodding and testing completed, and diagnosis given; I had cancer. My right kidney was surgically removed along with the cancerous Wilms tumor, and I began chemotherapy. Sadly, this would not be the last time cancer would affect me or my family.

My mother, fearing for my recovery, worried about her own. My mom fought multiple bouts with cancer – three separate times. Remission from a brain tumor before I was born, breast cancer during my toddler years, but ultimately her brain tumor resurfaced when I turned eight. By eight years old, I sadly understood cancer’s effect; something is deftly wrong when an eight-year-old comprehends the ramifications of a cancer diagnosis. “Why our family?” was my question, and guilt immediately followed. My best friend’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away. As much as I thought I understood cancer, I was wrong. I naively believed diagnosis was followed by treatment and then recovery ensued. As I said, I was young. My best friend losing her mom during fifth grade was jarring; someone I knew, diagnosed with the same disease my family endured and overcome, died. I thought I had cancer figured out – wrong again. Why did she lose her battle with cancer, but my mother and I survived? This should be where I impart insight or a profound lesson, where my essay ends, but no.

Cancer struck again. A very close friend was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. He was a senior in high school at the time of diagnosis – a senior! First, he lost his leg to amputation, but ultimately, he lost his life. He was not an older person or friend of a friend. He was young, and he was my friend. I was devastated.

Often, I feel my life and cancer are forever intertwined with no path toward extrication. Cancer has been a mainstay, commonplace, too prevalent, too destructive; hatred coupled with sorrow are associated with the “C” word. Cancer has taken so much from me, my family, my friends, and my small community. I remain distraught for loved ones who have lost their battles with cancer, but conversely, I begrudgingly acknowledge gratitude for being a cancer survivor and still having my mother – odd but honest.

The words, “cancer sucks”, do not begin to describe the pain cancer has caused in my life and the lives around me, but I contend as a survivor my perception and priorities are different. I celebrate every win and learn from every loss. I treasure every relationship and document the most irrelevant occasions. I cherish memories and anticipate future endeavors. I hug family often and take no one for granted. I have been forever changed, and I appreciate the smallest triumphs because of these overwhelming tragedies. I am a survivor.