Meet Emma Smith
Cancer helped me to see that I want to help people who are like me, and I have created my career path based on this. With guidance and positivity, I know I can make this goal and idea I was given a reality.
In 2011, I attended Camp Rap-A-Hope for the first time at seven years old. Before leaving, I had no idea what to expect, and it was the first time I had spent more than a few days away from home. I was anxious and felt like I would not fit in with anyone there. The second I arrived, my mind was changed. The staff welcomed me with open arms, and the kids there did too. There were so many people there who were just like me, and I felt at home. I was part of a community that would be with me for the rest of my life.
As soon as I was old enough, I began volunteering for the organization. I wanted other people who were like me to feel welcome, just as I was all those years ago. I would speak on radio shows about the camp and about my experience with cancer, as well as hand out packets and t-shirts for the races the company held as fundraisers. Being more involved in the community helped me to feel like I was doing my part to make a difference in the world of cancer. However, I still didn’t feel like I was doing quite enough. I felt I was meant to go above and beyond for the children who were like me and have struggled with the battle of cancer.
At the beginning of my senior year, I struggled to understand what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to help people, I just didn’t know how. So, l thought about all the different ways the people I know have helped me, and the people who stuck out the most were my Camp Rap-A-Hope volunteers. They have always contributed to something bigger and more important than themselves, but I knew that doing that knew that doesn’t feel like enough. With this thought, I realized I was meant to do something bigger than myself in the world of cancer: I was meant to help fight it.
Now, I am nearing the end of my senior year of high school, and I have been accepted into the University of Alabama at Birmingham to pursue a degree in cancer biology. After this degree is accomplished, I hope to continue my education in medical school and become a pediatric oncologist. Having cancer and being able to be involved in the community around me completely changed the negative perspective I held on my experience with the disease. This perspective change did not simply change a small part of me, it completely changed me. This perspective change became my life goal. Cancer helped me to see that I want to help people who are like me, and I have created my career path based on this. With guidance and positivity, I know I can make this goal and idea I was given a reality.