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"I will do whatever it takes to prove that cancer has not conquered me"

Everyone remembers their high school years, and almost everyone finds it to be a unique time in their life, full of life lessons and growth. Nevertheless, I believe my high school years have been somewhat more “interesting” than most. In May of my freshman year, I was diagnosed with a chondroblastic osteosarcoma in my left tibia. The doctors would never actually say the words “cancer”, “malignant” or “tumor”, but apparently all three applied.

I traded volleyball, my hair, and hanging out with my friends for months in-patient treatments. My sophomore and junior years were filled with chemotherapy and surgeries, making the hospital (several, actually) my second home. Of course, I had a lot of support from family and friends, and in the end I think my ordeal was tougher on my parents than it was on me. After the tumor was removed, there were the usual complications (broken legs, chemo late-effects) to deal with, but now in my senior year, I am back playing volleyball, and things are back to something resembling normal.

These days, the doctors are confident that the cancer is taken care of, although I still have a lot of “pictures” taken every few months to make sure. I feel like I’ve finally caught up on my schoolwork, and, best of all, I’ve started playing volleyball again. Other than a nice scar on my leg and a large collection of headscarves, there aren’t too many reminders of the “interesting times” I went through, but nevertheless it’s not something that one forgets easily.

Has the experience changed my outlook on life? Of course. Having cancer convinced me to reassess my daily life, and caused me to realize that there are many things that seemed so crucial before, but now seem insignificant. I see things from a better perspective now, evaluating whether things should really be important in my life and trying to get the most out of the life I have. I get up every day happy, trying to live my life to the fullest, because I am lucky to be alive, and I appreciate every moment I have. I am not going to tell you I don’t watch television or surf the internet like any other teenager, but I will admit that my “brainwashing time” has been reduced and replaced with activities like simply hanging out with friends or (my personal favorite) playing sports.

This experience has also helped me realize the enormous effect that people have on a life. My oncologists and surgeons were not only my doctors, but also my friends, both caring for me and supporting me through the ordeal. Their treatment methods made me feel like I was not just another patient, but a friend that they genuinely wanted to help. This treatment has convinced me to pursue a career in the medical field, where I hope to be the best doctor I can be to my patients. While I will avoid the oncology department, I am determined to give the same support and care to my patients that my doctors gave me.

That being said, I know it will not be an easy road to become a doctor. I am fully aware of the long nights studying and many years of high-stress education that await me. However, after having to think of the prospect that I may not be able to do whatever I wanted in my future, I am determined more than ever not to let anything stop me from having the future that I want. I will do whatever it takes to prove that cancer has not conquered me; it has only strengthened my perseverance in being the person I want to be. In fact, I can hear a voice inside my head when facing a challenge: “You call this tough? One word: CHEMO.”