Meet our Scholars

Years Awarded:
2021-2022

I realized that I needed to separate my mind from my body. If I kept treating the two as one, I would be surviving to simply survive but not to truly live a life of fulfillment.

If you would have told me when I was fourteen that I would be diagnosed with carcinoid cancer, have my lung removed, beat cancer once, undergo airway reconstruction, have a recurrence of cancer, and receive oral chemotherapy treatments, I would’ve said, ”yeah right.” Well, I suppose I jinxed it because that would soon become true.

The first moment I stepped into the hospital walls, all the control I had over my body disappeared. My ownership of my own body was stripped away from me the second my doctor dropped the C-word. Of course, like any frightened teenage girl, I let myself lose control of my mind when I lost my body. It was all new to me. I didn’t know how to survive the doctors, scans, needles, and all of the above. All I wanted to do was start high school off like a “normal” teenager, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen because now surviving was my number one priority.

As a consequence, I put up a wall between my soul and the real world to cope. On the outside, I acted almost robotically to appear flawlessly strong for my loved ones. Behind the wall, my soul was shattered into fragments that I didn’t understand how to put back together. I thought that this tactic is what would push me to survive the life I would soon be thrown into.

It wasn’t until after my second surgery that I realized how to fix the mindset I have created to help me survive. Once I woke up and looked into my surgeon’s eyes, I was stunned because when I was placed under anesthesia earlier, I wasn’t sure if I would wake up again.

However, when I did wake up it finally clicked on how I could fix the way I survive cancer.

I realized that I needed to separate my mind from my body. If I kept treating the two as one, I would be surviving to simply survive but not to truly live a life of fulfillment. I came to the realization that I was tired of being the shy girl who had a sob story because cancer isn’t a sob story; it’s a survival story. The C-word only impacts you in the ways you let it. Now I knew that it could make me into someone confident, curious, and imaginative about the life ahead of her.

With my newfound meaning of survivorship I’m now able to indulge in the moments of getting lost in awe of the New York City subway, endless laughter when reuniting with your best friends after a long weekend, and feeling every vibration in every song played at sunset on the beach.

Missing out on those moments would’ve been because I let my body control my mind, but cancer taught me that these moments are what fuel my meaning of survivorship.

Ultimately, you have to work with what you have – and I have cancer. It’s not always the easiest trying to survive a diagnosis you never thought you’d have but I am ready to now survive it without a wall up. I am prepared to work with it and not against it. That’s easier said than done, but when you have that moment where you realize how precious life is, you will learn that surviving is to live those meaningful moments out.