Meet Aaron Augustine
At center court seeing the faces of all of those I know that have been touched by cancer chanting for me, a cancer survivor, helped me realize my purpose in life.
The stands were packed at the Varsity doubleheader basketball game between the Middletown Knights and their lifelong rival, the Walkersville Lions. My raffle tickets were being purchased left and right by my friends, classmates, and others, everyone eager to take part in the event. The first two quarters flew by in a flash and suddenly it was halftime, my time to head to the court. I was not shooting baskets. I was raising money to help change the world.
As I worked my way down the steep stairs to the court, I could hear the commentator announce, “Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight we would like to recognize a student in our community named Aaron Augustine, taking part in a campaign to help raise money for blood cancer. Tonight…” and just like that the announcer’s voice was cut off by the roaring cheers coming from the stadium. I stepped down next to the Middletown bench, staying there confident yet humble. Suddenly I got a tug on the arm from the Middletown coach urging me to get out there and steal the court from the already winning Middletown Knights team. Gazing at the two teams and communities around me chanting my name was no feeling I have ever felt before. At that moment I realized it was no longer Walkersville and Middletown, but one team brought together to end cancer.
Growing up as a spokesperson for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I have had numerous “center court” moments, such as speaking at schools throughout my county, taking part in campaigns, and even throwing out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles baseball game. While all those events were rewarding, the support from my community at the basketball game was a feeling like no other. I was so humbled to be nominated to take part in The LLS Student of the Year Campaign. I never imagined being able to raise $146,000 and funding two cancer research projects for Acute Myeloid Leukemia in seven short weeks. Knowing that it was my friends, family, and peers rather than just LLS supporters, helped me realize why I take part in such things. A big part of the LLS mission is why raising money to help save lives is important. Growing up, my “why” for participating in campaigns was always myself, because that was all I ever really knew. As I got older, I have seen how much cancer has affected not only my family but countless families in my community. At center court seeing the faces of all of those I know that have been touched by cancer chanting for me, a cancer survivor, helped me realize my purpose in life.
Over the years my mom would quietly come into my room every night once I had fallen asleep and tuck me in whispering, “Thank you God for letting me keep him.” Some nights I would be the slightest bit awake to hear her say that and end up with a little smirk on my face, blowing my cover. My mom has always told me that God kept me here for a reason. I never really understood what that meant. Now, I have realized that I believe, I am here to help save lives so no family has to enter the hospital room I left.
After taking part in the Students of the Year Campaign, I now want to pursue a future career in cancer research. I am extremely thankful for the doctors and research that was done before my diagnosis. I would be humbled if I achieve becoming a scientist that can help make a difference. I would say I am the confident, determined, outgoing person I am today because of my experiences with cancer. So thanks cancer for placing me in center court and changing my life from something negative and life-threatening to something life-changing.