Meet our scholar recipients
Meet Phoenix Walker
So, what does survivorship mean to me? It is invaluable. Through my solitude I learned more about myself, and my limits, my strengths and weaknesses.
Survivorship is something I treasure. The odds were stacked against me from the start, as the cancer I was diagnosed with had a low survival rate. But I trudged on, even when I was at my lowest. My life is a rollercoaster. I’m just sitting in the cart for this rickety old ride blindfolded, never knowing when the next dip or loop will occur. Some dips are more memorable than others, such as the summer of 2014. The year I had been diagnosed with Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma, and began a nine-month long treatment. I only really remember the beginning and end of my treatment, but those memories and experiences changed me, and if they were for better or worse is up for debate.
Through the course of my treatment, I plummeted into depression. I couldn’t do anything to ease my suffering and I felt like a worthless burden. Barely anyone ever came to visit me, and I think that’s what hurt the most. I had friends, but none of them came to see me more than once. Crying and spiraling into hysteria became a norm for me in and out of that lonely hospital room. I only had my parents, but turns out they were all I needed. They weren’t perfect but they were always there for me, encouraging me at every turn. I wish more people had done as they did for me, but being bitter won’t help me now.
Once school began, l was still in treatment. I was only two months in at that point. It was my freshman year of high school, and I was so excited for it. I was told from the get-go that I didn’t have to try and go through with schooling while being treated, but I was determined. Driven. I could only go to the school about two days every month or so because of my weakened immune system. Regardless, with a tube in my nose and bag in my hand, I went through with a four period schedule starting at nine a.m.
I only lasted until winter break that same year, and I tried. Oh, boy, did I try. I’ve been told by my mom that she knew it was time to pull out after this one event with my math homework. I was really struggling, I just didn’t understand it. I asked my mom for help, and she did. However, once I moved on to the next problem, I had completely forgotten everything. I didn’t want to stop trying. I wanted to essentially run myself into the ground until I was caught up with my classmates. This only ended in tears. Many tears that coupled with severe nausea and pain. I was defeated.
Although I often couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I knew it was there. The thought that this all will be over soon is what stopped me from giving up. I don’t look back on this time fondly, especially since I don’t remember most of it, but the things I learned from it are invaluable. I faced death with a courage I never knew I had, and learned how precious life is.
How time is short and anyone’s life can be brought to an abrupt end, even a child’s. Ever since then, I’ve been riding this roller coaster of life with my eyes open, savoring and experiencing every moment to the fullest. Now I look to the horizon as I begin my ascent towards college.
So, what does survivorship mean to me? It is invaluable. Through my solitude I learned more about myself, and my limits, my strengths and weaknesses. How I should live for myself, and be who I want to be Instead of getting by and faking it. I learned the value of my family’s love, and how no matter what they will always be there for me. I want to share what I have to offer, because it almost got taken away. I may not end up being a doctor or a nurse, but my heart lies in that hospital with those kids I don’t really know. The nameless heroes who are the only ones who understand what it’s like. If my passions path ever has the slightest chance of crossing that of a fellow person with a child or was/is a child with cancer then I will do everything within my power to serve them.