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Engelhardt Family Scholar


Scholar Quote: As I look towards the future, the impact that cancer left on me will forever fuel my motivation to succeed.

A Walk Through Fire

At what point does a person’s determination reach its threshold and transition from society’s normalcy to borderline insanity? For some, it might be the presence of a potentially life-altering reward, and for others, it could be a traumatic event that sheds light on the value of living life to its fullest. There is no definite moment when this transition occurs, but in my case, it was the death sentence I was handed by Ewing’s Sarcoma. Death is a foreign concept to many that is often viewed through a distant looking glass; I held the same view growing up, thinking that death would be kept at this safe and dissociated distance. Instead, the invisible executioner came for my life in April of my sophomore year, which resulted in the death of the naive child that I was and the simultaneous birth of a new Troy Ennis that would walk through fire to see his goals reached.

When the diagnosis was issued to me I found that I only had two options; I could either fight my way tooth and nail through every circle of hell for a slim chance of life, or I could lay down and die. I was no longer subject to the warm and optimistic embrace of daily high school life, football, and friends; these things were quickly traded for desolate hospital rooms, horrific chemotherapy, and constant mental degradation as I battled against an enemy which rendered me helpless for an entire year. The changes I experienced from treatment ignited a determination geared towards all aspects of life, as I had come to the realization that the life I had been given was not guaranteed. I powered through fifteen rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and life-altering surgeries, never stopping the doctors because even though I was only given a fifteen percent survival rate I realized that I had a family that needed me and goals that I wanted to accomplish. I continued to tell myself, “there is no tomorrow,” which was the perfect motivation to tackle the obstacles in my path. Every week I would force myself to step into a weight room and push my already broken-down body past its limits; even once I got to the point where I could barely go two hours without throwing up I still found the willpower deep inside to put on a smile and pick up some weights. Cancer truly taught me what the indomitable human will is capable of accomplishing, because if the Red Devil Doxorubicin wasn’t able to break me, then nothing would.

Even today, as I’m nearly a year into remission, the intensity of my motivation has not dulled, but rather become more focused as I chase my academic endeavors. I had always wanted to go to college as a kid, but there was no set path or career that I felt called towards. Cancer changed this by finally giving me a purpose; even though it was the most horrible experience of my life I was still able to discover that the battle against the disease was one I wanted to take part in well past the ringing of my own bell. My intimate understanding of the disease and its effects on a person’s day-to-day life gives me confidence that I will stay driven on my path of becoming a pediatric oncology doctor, as no one should have to endure the torture I was subjected to just for a chance to live. The long hours I will no doubt have to put towards a medical degree will never be able to compare to the time I spent in the crucible of chemotherapy. As I look towards the future, the impact that cancer left on me will forever fuel my motivation to succeed.