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Years Awarded:

"What does survivorship really mean to me? It means a second chance at life."

“We’re all put to the test… but it never comes in the form or at the point we would prefer, does it?” This quote was a line said by Anthony Hopkins in the 1997 film, The Edge. The film tells a story of a group of men struggling to survive the elements after a plane crash in Alaska. This quote has stuck with me since seeing the film because I, myself, have been put to the test, for I am a cancer survivor. At the age of two, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. I battled the disease for about two years before I went into remission. I battled the disease for about two years before I went into remission. When I was six years old, I relapsed with the disease, fighting it again until a bone marrow transplant was performed. As one can imagine, the notion of fighting such a serious disease at such a young age can be an overwhelmingly difficult task. I for one can say that neither of my parents nor I imagined that my early childhood would be filled with numerous hospital visits, daily medications, and the inability to play outside with other children; however, just as the quote from The Edge says, a test “…never comes in the form or at the point we prefer…”

That is what my experience with cancer was, a test. It was a test of my strength, of my will, and most importantly, of my character. Not only do I believe that my battle with cancer tested who I was, I also believe it helped to shape who I am. To be a survivor of cancer is something that many people look at as an accomplishment, a great feat, and a victory won. I have never quite been able to see it in that light. Whenever I think of that experience, I simply believe that fighting the cancer and winning was something I had to do. There are many challenges a person can face in life, and to overcome them, one must simply do whatever needs to be done. That is how I have come to look at my battle with cancer. If I hadn’t done what I needed to do, fought the battles I had to fight, neither this paper nor any of my other accomplishments in life would have existed. It is this kind of mentality that has led to much of my success over the years. Despite how difficult something may seem to be, I am able to acknowledge what I need to do in order to overcome it. I possess a very strong, and at times stubborn, will that has driven me forward throughout my life.

As I have gotten older, the true magnitude of what I survived has hit me more and more. I have an extremely high respect for life and the lives of others, which has led to become a bit of a leader amongst my peers. I pride myself on taking care of other people and doing all I can to ensure their own well-being, even if it is at the expense of my own. What does survivorship really mean to me? It means a second chance at life. It is an opportunity to accomplish great things and to make a difference in the world around me. To be a victim of cancer is perhaps one of the most difficult tests that one can be given in life. As a survivor, I have passed this test and with the strength that the experience has given me, I’m certainly ready for the next one.