Meet our scholar recipients

Survivorship meant becoming a better, stronger me.

What is Survivorship?

To understand what survivorship is, you have to understand what cancer is. Cancer is gut­ wrenching waves of dread. Cancer is looking in the mirror where a full head of hair should be and seeing a physical reminder of what you’re going through. Cancer is becoming a human pin cushion, a living science experiment. Cancer is meeting people who deserve one thousand happy lifetimes but will leave their families after one cut far too short. Cancer is watching the world continue to tum without you while it feels like your life is at a standstill. Cancer is needing a doctor’s approval to get on a plane, swim in the ocean, and even go to the dentist. Cancer is wanting so badly for your friends to understand but desperately hoping they never have to.

Cancer is feeling more like a sentiment than a real friend as those you love become used to a life with less of you in it. It’s accepting that you’ve been dealt a bad hand and that you may never quite have the life you’ve imagined. Cancer is accepting that if you do make it out alive, bigger monsters may lie ahead in the form of long-term side effects and secondary cancers-knowing that being cancer-free is still not being free from cancer.

Survivorship is a chance. Survivorship is an opportunity to pursue life relentlessly, no matter the obstacles, setbacks, or burdens. Survivorship is a way to make a difference, to overcome, to inspire. To me, survivorship meant keeping dance shoes in my chemo bag, going straight from treatment to rehearsal. My challenges during my illness motivated me to fight for the things I loved. I worked extra hard to remain involved in the activities I was passionate about, whether this meant editing photos from my hospital bed, or taking barre classes on off­ days. To me, survivorship led to organizing events at school and in the community to raise awareness and funds for cancer-centered causes. I co-chaired a National Honor Society committee for creating chemo care bags, raised thousands of dollars for Relay for Life, gave speeches at local events, and started a club with my friends to volunteer at a cancer patient support facility. I was given a voice and use it to help others like me. From the day of my diagnosis, survivorship meant looking at life differently. I approached small things with great gratitude, realized what was important, and made family and friends a priority. My values became clearer, and I made a commitment to make the most of whatever time I had left.

Survivorship meant becoming a better, stronger me.

Today, survivorship is allowing me to pursue a college degree, developing my talents to better serve and shape the world around me. It has brought opportunities I once thought I’d never have. I am lucky enough to be in remission and to be getting a chance at a normal life, with new direction and purpose. I’m still making sense of what’s behind me. Some days are harder than others. But I’m going to keep fighting, keep giving back, and keep reminding myself of how far I’ve come. It’s what survivors do.