Meet our Scholars

Years Awarded:
2022-2023

If there is anything cancer has taught me, it is that our purpose here on earth is bigger than ourselves...Life is too short, and I know my fellow childhood cancer survivors understand this more than anyone else.

Imagine walking into a routine doctor’s appointment and hearing the word “cancer” spew out the mouth of the doctor. Anyone who has heard that word knows that feeling of perplexed uncertainty and dismay. At 16 years old, cancer was on the back burner of my mind. A young teen busy from sun up to sun down with sports and school doesn’t have time for cancer, nor do I think that it is even a possibility. I am young and healthy, right? This doesn’t happen to people my age, I’m too young for this, so I thought. My life changed the day I finally heard the C-word spoken to me by the person in the white coat. I felt as if they were the antagonist of my story.

How could they say that? This is not true; why would they lie to me? An invincible teenager like myself sick with cancer? No way. Reality had slammed the door into my face and trapped me for the very first time in my life.

Through the process of my diagnosis, I felt like the wind was throwing me in all different directions. Lost, vexed, and confused were at the center of my thoughts. A normal teenager having their life turned upside down with “cancer” now stamped to their forehead. I felt like there was nothing left until I came to the realization that this wasn’t me. Cancer does not define the person I am inside. That word stamped on my forehead can be washed away; it doesn’t need to stick around and control my life, so I didn’t let it. I began to feel this deep urge of vitality that I never knew I had before. A strength that I didn’t think was possible to achieve and a sense of peace flowing through me. Ironically, cancer did that for me. It made me realize the important things in life as well as the robustness I had dormant inside of me for years that finally blew out. Cancer made me realize life is a marathon, not a 40-yard dash. We need to pace ourselves and take every day moment by moment.

Cancer made me begin to question my purpose here on earth. Since I was a kid, I have had big dreams of being a professional baseball player one day. However, I began to realize after my diagnosis that my purpose was more significant than me. My future goals went from personal and individualistic to goals with a perception of community and support. I know there are many others out there in the same situation I am in, so I became a founder of a nonprofit organization to help other kids battling cancer just like me. My future goals will be to continue to provide hope and support to each child and family I come across. Life is learning to take negatives and turn them into positives which creates a yearning desire to live and have a purpose. While in school, I am also on my way to getting a bachelor’s in biology as the first step in hopes of working in the sector of medicine to continue helping others.

If there is anything cancer has taught me, it is that our purpose here on earth is bigger than ourselves. More than ever, we all need to stick together and impact others in a positive way. Life is too short, and I know my fellow childhood cancer survivors understand this more than anyone else. So, I end this essay with questions from the perspective of a cancer survivor: what is your purpose? How will you change the world or your community? When will you begin to live every day moment by moment? I anticipate this message reaches those who need it, and as I conclude, I ironically say thank you, cancer, for making me see my true self. Thank you, cancer, for allowing me to bring out strength I never knew I had, and thank you, cancer, for changing my view of the world and allowing me to see I can make a difference while I am here.