When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, my 10-year-old mind thought, “Well, everyone has one bad thing happen to them in their life and this must be mine.” As I have matured, I realized this idea is too limited and naive; some people endure numerous ‘bad’ things throughout their lives, while some lucky people endure only a few. But after my cancer diagnosis, I realized it wasn’t the bad thing that happened to you that mattered, but what you did with it. My cancer diagnosis provided me with the tools to comprehend and conquer any battle which may come my way. It provided me with the outlook of “it will be okay again” and the stamina to push through moments when the reality of ‘okay’ is incomprehensibly distant Cancer took away my hair and my fertility and my carelessness, but it replaced it with greater things like bravery and determination and appreciation-translating thought and aspirations into action devoid of fear and full of motivation. With this newfound admiration for life, hobbies that had once been simply activities became passions that filled me with joy and purpose. Like my hair, dance, school, and relationships grew, from pastimes to lifelines. Dance was no longer just an afterschool sport, it was an opportunity to appreciate my body and its ability to move. I broke from the constraining chains of the hospital bed and began to dance freely. For the first time in my eight years of dance, I was no longer worried about being the best on the stage but was just happy that my body could
be on the stage. School was no longer a chore full of books and homework; it was an opportunity to gain new knowledge and explore new perspectives. Learning was no longer a predetermined path, but a craving of mine. Relationships were no longer taken for granted; they were nurtured and appreciated. I treasured each moment with loved ones, as one never knows which will be the last. And my role in life was no longer to simply exist. My cancer diagnosis encouraged me to be a leader in the childhood cancer community. I was lucky to have survived and it was now my duty to help in the fight against this horrible disease.
Dance, school, relationships, and cancer awareness have fueled the past seven years of my life, acting as pillars upon which I grow and the basis of all my happiness and motivation.
My journey as a survivor has exposed me to the importance of understanding not only the broken but the rebuilt; my sickness broke me but left me with pieces perfect to build the strongest tower I could. Hair that once laid atop my pillow now sits on my head like a crown, revealing to the world my strength and endless desire to continue growing. And I want people to see that tower with pillars so strong that any ‘bad’ will simply make my tower merely crumble a little, but never fall. And my education showed me that the way I was meant to spread this understanding was through storytelling; words and how we manipulate them hold the power to transform intention into action and tragedy into beauty. These two experiences have shown me that in my future as a journalist I will discover the untold stories of the hurt and of those who dismantle the hurt into their energy, unearthing hidden gems beneath the cracked surface. I wish to mend injustices plaguing society by sharing the unspoken of not only cancer survivors like myself but victims of tragedies so foreign to me I fail to comprehend My deepest emotions and greatest passions have evolved from experiences I have conquered first hand such as cancer. As a journalist, I will work to emulate that integrative experience and put myself through the harsh realities and rewarding sacrifices of those whose stories I wish to tell.