Meet Cole Parker Martin
Forever grateful for the endless support I received, I made it my mission to reciprocate it by raising money and awareness for the hospital and pediatric cancer non-profits.
Initially, I dreaded my Wednesday morning visits full of stinging needle pokes, the sterile scent of the hospital hallways, and the nauseating odor of vincristine. But after weeks of this new “normal,” my outlook slowly transformed. Uplifted by kind gestures from the hospital staff, I experienced some truth in the saying: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Embracing this new perspective, I entertained myself by playfully mocking my nurses’ minor missteps. And joked about my doctor’s first-rate spinal tap “back massages,” instead of focusing on the two-inch needle between my vertebrae. I turned to humor to infuse difficult hospital stays with moments of joy, cracking potty jokes until my nurses and I all cried from laughter. By following the hospital staff’s hopeful lead, I learned to be resilient by changing my attitude when I couldn’t change my situation…and adding a dash of humor whenever possible – a mindset that I still carry today.
Once my hair grew back and my strength returned, I thought I would blend in with the “normal” kids again. While I looked the same, I realized that cancer had reshaped me and I now viewed the world from a different perspective. Forever grateful for the endless support I received, I made it my mission to reciprocate it by raising money and awareness for the hospital and pediatric cancer non-profits.
Throughout middle school I eagerly accepted invitations to speak at fundraisers for Lurie Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network, knowing I could make an impact by sharing my story. Upon entering high school, I jumped into action to promote a poorly coordinated St. Baldrick’s event and quickly became the school’s top fundraiser. Now I organize my fundraisers and have personally raised over $4000 for Make-A-Wish and Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation by explaining how vital these non-profits are.
The resilience and work ethic I developed during my years in treatment has also helped me focus on my future. While doing research for a high school essay on renewable energy, I learned how soaring global energy demands are exacerbating our climate crisis. After immersing myself in more research on renewable energy solutions, I suddenly found purpose in my intended career as an engineer. Now I plan to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Energy Science and Policy, so I can help to ensure a more sustainable future for our planet by contributing to innovations in renewable energy technology.
After so many years of feeling sickly and weak, my encounter with cancer has motivated me to maximize my potential. I want to challenge myself by taking rigorous courses at the University of Michigan and participating in some of their groundbreaking research initiatives to gain hands-on experience in the area of sustainability. By helping to design a more sustainable future for the University of Michigan, I aspire to one day use my education to contribute to future advancements in renewable energy for the world.
While the scar tattooed on my hand from countless IVs has faded, my commitment to providing support for the pediatric cancer community has grown. Empowered by the determination gained from my past adversity, I plan to find even more volunteer opportunities in college while pursuing an education to help ensure a more sustainable future for our planet.
Although my diagnosis certainly had a negative impact on my life, in some ways, cancer actually reshaped me for the better. I am grateful for the lessons I learned and the opportunities to give back to the community that supported me.