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Being a survivor does not mean that you have beat cancer; being a survivor means that you live everyday as if it is a gift - that is "how" I live.

What does survivorship mean to me?

When I was diagnosed with leukemia, I was only six years old. I had just finished kindergarten, and the worst thing that had ever happened to me was falling off of my bike when I was learning to ride without training wheels. The day the oncologist told me I had leukemia, he asked if I had any questions. I only had one, “Am I going to die?” For a six year old, being a survivor is that simple.

In a world with illness, injuries, death, and hatred, survivorship can come in many forms. Throughout life, almost everyone will experience something that will change their life. For me it was leukemia. I believe all survivors have an unspoken bond that only we understand.

Cancer can affect people in many ways. Stuart Scott, an ESPN commentator, died from appendiceal cancer in 2007 after a seven year battle. He is someone that l always looked up to; not just in the way he lived his life, but also because of the way he wanted to be remembered. In one of his famous commentaries he said, “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” I have tried to live by his words.

Being a survivor does not mean that you have beat cancer; being a survivor means that you live everyday as if it is a gift – that is “how” I live. I would never wish someone to ever go through cancer, but it is unclear who I would be today had I never had leukemia. I honestly believe my diagnosis and treatment only benefited me. Difficult circumstances give us the opportunity to build character. My character is “the manner in which I live.” This is evident through the leadership opportunities presented to me. Having been on the “outside” of normal as an elementary student, I have welcomed leadership opportunities and participated in activities that have allowed me to advocate for others facing adversity. I have participated in activities such as interact club (the student branch of Rotary International), Mentors for Violence Prevention, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I have also volunteered several summers serving meals to underserved kids in our community. My participation in school and community activities have been directly influenced by my experiences.

As a survivor, it doesn’t mean I forget about my past but it does mean that I don’t dwell on it or use it as a crutch. Survivorship means I have a responsibility to live for what today has to offer. I choose to seek God’s answer when facing adversity. God never promised a life without trouble, but He does promise to walk alongside of us. ffwe listen as we walk, we discover God’s bigger plan and realize the difficulties are only temporary. I’ve learned strength doesn’t come from what I can do, it comes from overcoming the things I once thought I couldn’t do. This is “why” I live.