CHSCF Scholarship Winner 2022
Being diagnosed with cancer was quite a jarring experience. A sense of normalcy quickly disappeared and I entered the most challenging part of my life both mentally and physically. Starting chemo, finishing exams, and making it through another full semester of classes during treatment was very tough. Despite the difficult parts, I came to have a much greater appreciation for everything and everyone around me. After going through something so challenging, the simple inconveniences in life didn’t bother me at all, knowing that there are far worse things that have more of an impact over time. After many trips to the pediatric hospital, I was shocked to see how many kids were there all the time going through some very difficult situations. Seeing so many of them go through very challenging treatments and procedures with little complaint is incredibly motivating for me to do something in the future to improve their experiences. As for my summit, I have had a passion for space exploration and robotics for many years and after having my eyes opened to the sheer amount of people in these situations, I’m interested in combining my interest in space and robotics with medical devices.
The last couple years I’ve been a rotational intern with NASA JSC working in many different areas of human exploration. This past summer I worked with a human performance lab where we focused on many different aspects of keeping astronauts safe and healthy during long duration space missions. Throughout my experience this summer, I thought a lot about my time in the hospital and applied many of the things I learned at NASA to ways that could improve certain aspects of the patient experience. Being in such an innovative industry like space exploration, there are an incredible amount of things that need to be considered especially for long duration space missions. With all of the unknown and new technologies that need to be created, there are countless ways that technologies developed for space are useful to many people on Earth. After having cancer, I have shifted my interest as NASA form the rocketry side of things to human robotic devices that could apply more directly to healthcare. Between working on sustainable exploration programs to the Moon and Mars that are incredibly inspiring, to supporting better healthcare projects, I am incredibly motivated to continue my work with NASA. Other that my primary work, my other major plan is to spend a lot of time with children’s hospitals to both help out the kids and talk to doctors and nurses to identify new ways to coordinate space technology with their own needs. Despite all of the challenges this year, I have come away with a better outlook on life and a stronger motivation to work on meaningful projects that will help our people going through difficult times of their own.
At twenty-years-old, my “pre-base” life-consisting of constantly being on the move without taking a break to relax and pursue things that brought me joy-changed when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My new “base” became entirely about survival. I traded school and college soccer for chemo and radiation. My body forced me to take a break and finally rest. After having cancer, I created a life of balance consisting of things that challenged me and things that brought me joy. I respected my body more and took care of it better. This change in lifestyle became my new “base” from which I have built a new life, achieving things I never thought I could, and am always looking up to my “summit” while also making sure I stop and look around every once in a while, to appreciate where I have been and where I am going.
After I took a semester off of college for treatment I returned to school, rejoined my soccer team, ran my first half marathon, tore my ACL in my senior preseason, and graduated on time with honors. It was an incredibly busy, yet fulfilling, 18 months. The most significant stop on my journey to my summit began after the summer of 2019, after I graduated college. I ran from San Francisco to Boston with a program called 4K for Cancer run by the Ulman Foundation. My team and I ran to raise money and awareness for adolescent and young adult cancer. This summer was not only challenging and rewarding but was also the key to healing form my cancer.
My next stop on my trek to my summit was getting into medical school at the University of Michigan. I plan on using my experience having cancer to help others get through their cancer journey. I am starting a program called Caner to 5K, which will bring cancer survivors together to train for 12 weeks and run/walk a 5K race. I look forward to helping others survivors regain control and confidence in their bodies after cancer.
This past year, I had test results that showed that my personal experience with cancer is likely not over. I had my five-year PET scan in March-which was supposed to be my last check-up before graduating from my oncologist-and there was a mass that showed up in my breast. After several tests, it was determined that the mass had abnormal cells and needed to be excised. I had surgery at the beginning of August and the mass was pre-cancerous (thankfully not cancer!). However, my risk for breast cancer in the future has drastically increased and I will have to either be on preventative medication or have a prophylactic mastectomy (yet to be determined, based on further testing). Because of this experience, I have been more attracted to a field of medicine where I can work with high-risk breast cancer patients and ease their anxieties and challenges.
I was diagnosed with leukemia back in March 2020 and since then I have had to adjust to many new norms in my life. The hardest part of my new “base” was the fact that it was more difficult to do everything than it was before. I had less energy, less mobility, and less focus. However, I did not run out of motivation or people there to support me from the beginning through the entire climb to get to where I am today. I am still undergoing treatment until June 2023 but am not going to let that get in the way of my dreams.
I have worked hard to improve every aspect of myself. I have trained my mind, body, and soul to keep moving forward in order to achieve my goals against any obstacle that gets in my way. At Michigan State University, through my professors, peers, and family, I plan on earning a degree in Computer Science Engineering as well as a minor in Game Design. This is all for the next step in my overarching dream to start creating my own games in the future that others can play. Games have had a massive effect on my life even before diagnosis. I strive to create games that will inspire others to dream big and reach their personal summits.
I know the climb is not going to be easy but I am determined to keep working hard for as long as it takes to build up the skills required. And once those skills have been mastered, then I will reach our to as many connections that I have to learn from people with years of experience and to start building up some work field experience of my own. Only with the knowledge, skills, and experience, will I be able to start working on creative projects for the world to see and hopefully to fill it with more joy. People go through hard times all over, there will never stop being a need for more enjoyment.
CHSCF Scholarship Winner 2021
Life consists of failures and obstacles, they test you; your responses, form your perspective; your successes declare you a survivor. My challenges have changed me into someone that I am proud of. I am proud of the barriers I have overcome and how they have shaped my identity. I am grateful for the love and support I received form the people around me. I am excited and hopeful for the path I have chosen; my plan is to devote my life to helping others. I aspire to be an oncologist or surgeon. I will rely on the education I receive and my role models to keep me on that path. My biggest role models are my doctors and my mom.
March 11, 2019, doctors at my local hospital found a tumor on my spine, and I was sent to the University of Michigan Mott Hospital. March 13th I was told I had a blood cancer. My March 19th I was diagnosed with stage-4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I had a rigorous chemo schedule and constant scans, and it affected the time I could spend on my high school and college classes; I had to drop my college classes. Over the next few months, while I dealt with chemo and completing my coursework, I was also faced with many other medical procedures and issues. I stopped taking care of myself mentally and physically. I lived for my treatments and the next episode of Grey’s Anatomy. If my mom would not have forced me to go to the hospital time and again, I would not have survived the pulmonary embolism, infections or the many other problems I endured.
My mom was my cheerleader; she was with me every minute of the day. She held my hand while they shaved my head, spent hundreds of dollars on a wig so I could have hair for prom, and kept track of my medicinal schedule. My mom was also a respiratory therapist before she retired, she spent her life helping children breathe. She is my hero; I can only aspire to be as caring as she is. I’m a survivor, the challenges I’ve overcome have changed me for the better. I will spend my life helping others. I want to spend my life trying to keep people alive. I will dedicate my life to improving the lives of other people either as an oncologist or a surgeon. I can because I have great role models to look up to and a life full of opportunities to look forward to.
I have a lot of things to say about my journey with cancer and education.
I stared very early with my cancer journey. I was only 18 years old when I was diagnosed with lymphoma for the first time. It happened in a poor overseas country that at that time was also sanctioned and not all the chemotherapy that works against the cancer was available, so I had to take whatever was available for me. I was a high school student then a college student. I was always a top student during my high school years and it stayed the same while I was going through cancer treatment.
I was even told by my treating physician to take a one-year break from school and come back next year because it was hard for somebody to get chemotherapy and at the same time going through school. He made an option for me. But my choice was this, for me, it works the opposite. My road to education and cure go together in the same way. All the pain and suffering I was going through during treatment courses, was accompanied by the joy of being closer to my dream of being part in the medical field, a healer, and helping other people who are suffering like me. It gave me meaning and a sense for my life. At the time, going through high school and the later the medical field all the pain of my treatment aside and even lowered my pain and stress more than pain medications did. I can’t give up on either one of them.
Unfortunately, my journey with cancer started all over again in 2007 in the US. Again, I have to go through pain, suffering and uncertainty. Even so, it put my educational dreams on hold for some time, but I am more determined than before to start the journey again and join Oakland University Nursing program for a bachelor degree in nursing.
I am a cancer survivor twice, but I want to be a nurse or NP in oncology unit. I want to be a healer again, a healer that a cancer patient can rely on. I believe I can flourish and be a good oncology RN or NP. I want to make a big difference in their life, but I need your help. Luckily, I have a supportive wife and we share two beautiful kids, six- and one-year old’s, who are also a reason why I am doing this. I want to set an example for them. I believe no matter how much suffering and pain you get in your life, it could be a reason for you to aim higher.
CHSCF Scholarship Winner 2020
2020 B2S Essay
When I was diagnosed, my new “base” was extremely stressful. I was just starting to adjust to being in high school and everything that came along with that when all of a sudden I was missing school every other day. For me, my new “base” was missing a ton of school and going to so many different doctors appointments. I was constantly getting test after test done and still trying to go to school on top of everything. However, I eventually got used to doctors, the tests, and school became easier even if I missed some days. Everything seemed to be normal, at least as normal as possible.
As for my “summit”, I have many goals I am working towards achieving. Foremost, my health goal is to stay as healthy as I can and continue to get my scans on time. Another major goal of mine is to graduate from Michigan State University where I am currently a sophomore. Finally, after graduating from college, I plan to hopefully do some type of graduate program. While these goals may seem standard for young adults, for me this is a big accomplishment as I am a first generation college student. This is a major motivator for me to accomplish these goals. Additionally, after having health problems, I feel very lucky to be able to have the chance to go to college and have a career. It has been such a great opportunity for me to get to a big university and I am very grateful that I am healthy enough to be able to take full advantage of this opportunity that my parents never got to have. I as so excited to reach my “summit” and accomplish all of these goals in the future.
If you asked me a year ago if I would be applying ro graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in Industrial & Operational Engineering at the University of Michigan, I would have said you are crazy. I was living in a city I love and transitioning to a new job I was extremely excited about. I the back of my mind I have always considered graduate studies, but never would have acted on it. However, between being furloughed for my job because of the coronavirus pandemic and being diagnosed with cancer, some parts of my life have started to feel out of control. My mindset has changed. I would like to use this degree as an opportunity to posh the reset button and take back control of my career trajectory.
Chemotherapy was the most challenging trail of my life. I spent weeks hooked up to a machine in a hospital being pumped full of toxic chemicals. It made me tired, depressed, and my brain foggy. However, following my first round of chemotherapy I was determined to accomplish something and keep my brain sharp. I decided to enroll in an online business certificate program while in the hospital. Every course presented me with the excitement of learning something new and providing me with comfort during this tribulation. It helped me feel like I was working towards something. I am now happy to say I am 99% cancer free and have completed that program.
Our world is in a time of uncertainty during this global pandemic. For me, it feels disturbingly similar to haw I felt during cancer treatment. Right as I was supposed to go back to work post treatment, I was furloughed to cut costs due to lack of business, Therefore, I have chosen to face this challenge in a similar way…through education. I would like use this moment as an opportunity to acquire new skills, develop my technical understanding, and learn how to apply engineering principles to drive business success. I am choosing to pursue this degree to reset, work towards something, and take back control of my career.
After completing this degree, I hope to return to my current employer, LEARN Behavioral (Autism Therapy Provider) and continue to help them expand their services. I have a passion for helping people, whether through volunteering or corporate responsibility. I have been shown much kindness during my battle with cancer, and my hope is that one day I can pay it forward to others! During the hardest days of treatment, I would repeat a phrase a family friend, who himself was a cancer survivor, use to say; “This too shall pass”. This simple mantra helped me continue on my journey to my summit. Any hardship or obstacle that faces me starts to melt away. But I don’t think this phrase is quite complete. After learning many lessons while dealing with this terrible disease, I’d like to add to it: “This too shall pass, …AND the future is bright!”
2020 B2S Scholarship
Acclimatizing to my new base after being diagnosed with cancer was one of the most difficult, yet beautiful journeys of my life. Undergoing cancer treatment and spending countless months in the hospital allowed me to be acquainted with the intense suffering and pain that this disease brings upon patients and their families, and mad me realize the importance and urgency of making a significant difference in the pediatric cancer community.
After surviving 5 chemotherapy cycles, thoracic surgery, and a bone marrow transplant and to have beaten 2 different types of malignancies simultaneously, I consider it m responsibility to help those that are in a similar position to mine and bring hope into the lives of those who think that all hope is lost. Improving the lives of other cancer patients has become the purpose of my life, and if I can accomplish this I will have reached my summit.
The first big step I have take to “reach my summit” of improving the lives of other cancer patients I to document my experiences at the hospital in the form of a memoir. There are countless thing that I wish someone would have told me when I was going through cancer treatment. It would have provided me with a peace of mind and reduced my anxiety. Through my memoir, I would like to provide support to those currently undergoing treatment. Additionally, I would like to share with the world what I have learned through this time of extreme adversity in y life. It would be immensely gratifying if I can share my coping strategies and revelations that would assist others during times of difficulty in their life. Lastly, I would like to provide a glimpse of hope for cancer patients worldwide. As a patient with an extremely rare and deadly combination of malignancies, I would like my story to serve as a source of inspiration.
The second big step I have taken to reach my “summit” is picking a career path in hospital management. As a patient, I experienced many inconveniences and discomforts that I think could have easily been resolved if the management employed more patient-oriented policies. As someone that has been exposed to the inner workings of the hospital system and understands the perspective of a patient, I would not only enjoy, but be well qualified to hold a hospital management position. I have decided to pursue a business degree to fulfill this ambition, and it would be a huge stepping stone in “reaching my summit” of making a difference in the lives of the cancer patients.
I don’t regret that I was required to acclimatize to a new base after my cancer diagnosis, because it provided me with a strong inner purpose and goal that I can dedicate my life to pursuing. Hopefully, I can reach my “summit” and not only help cancer patients fight this deadly disease but help them reach their summit as well.
The summer following my freshman year at Michigan State University was one that I will never forget. Returning home with various complaints and not knowing why I was constantly not feeling well resulted in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Hearing those words from my doctor had me shaken up. Luckily, I had the best-case scenario with my treatment only being radioactive iodine and not needing chemotherapy. Even though I did not have to go through chemo, I had to adjust my lifestyle that summer and continue to keep an open and optimistic mind with everything that was going on. This reminded me to be grateful for the little things because you never know what will happen at any point. That simmer I made it a mission to continue to stay happy and just keep pushing through the hard days. Throughout my journey, my family was the biggest support and constantly reminded me that anything is possible no matter how hard life may be. This new base came and I had to start reaching for a new version of myself and a new summit. I have always wanted to have a career in the health field with kids even before my diagnosis, but it brought out more of and interest of working directly in medicine. My new vision is to become a Physician’s Assistant working in pediatrics or oncology. I want to help kids who need it the most by providing my unlimited kindness, wisdom, and empathy. Having a special connection with patients is a very important so that they can learn to trust and lean on you. I am committed to making a change in the future and use my past experiences to help those who are going through the same.
2020 scholarship essay
A friend once told me, “suffering is not pleasurable but God always uses pain to help someone.” This was true for me and I don’t think God is done using my journey to impact others. Thankfully, before I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer, I had not dealt with the disease first-hand. Up to that point, cancer seemed like a folktale, like dying in a plane crash, or catching Santa putting presents under the tree late Christmas night. Cancer was completely imaginary, or at least something I never thought I would experience. It’s something no one can prepare for.
The word “base” is a powerful word to associate with cancer. It signifies the strength used to overcome the fear, pain and unexpectedness of the disease. Cancer was not my base because it was my lowest point, but it represents the bottom of a mountain that once seemed un-climbable. Regardless, at the top I knew I wouldn’t be the same person I was before. Cancer changed my perspective on life; it grew me closer to God, my family, and my friends. It allowed me to see so much care in the hearts of so many wonderful people.
One thing that I do know about cancer is that my summit seems to be higher than before. Actually, I don’t know if it is higher because I still have similar goals, but at least I will enjoy the scenery a little more along the way. My cancer was not very invasive; during treatment I often thought of children whose best days resembled my worst. I thought of the patient whose life would continue to be scans and needles as I returned back to my dorm at Michigan State relatively healthy.
One day I will be a doctor, and my journey with cancer will be my daily motivation to help others get through their journey. I hope I will not lose sight of what it felt like to be a patient and I hope that it will help me care for the people, whether they are children or adults, more deeply. This doesn’t necessarily mean oncology is for me, but I hope my experiences will help me care for somebody who maybe can’t use half of their body because of a stroke, of a child who has spina bifida and is working to recover. I would say that this is now what motivates me to one day become a doctor, that I would have the privilege of being a part of someone’s care, even if it does mean that I have to be part of their heartbreak.
Since my diagnosis and my ending of treatment, I have always had an interest in political matters in the United States. After my treatments ended, I looked at many different opportunities for myself when I would enter college. I settled on going to Henry Ford Community College to complete my general education for construction due to my college classes in high school for construction. I later changed my mind and decided to go into Political Science since I felt more comfortable with politics that a hammer. After I signed up and got accepted to Henry Ford, I thought about what I would like to do with my degree once I had it. I wanted to become a Political Scientist. I also plan on going back to college later in my life, once I am financially stable, and have enough money to get my business degree, so I can open a business up of my own. I feel this is my best option. However, I understand that my plan will change through the course of time and it will require a lot of hard work and determination. One thing I keep in mind however is that I was able to fight through and survive cancer. As long as I keep that in mind I know I can do something as easy as this. With this scholarship it will make my dreams a little closer towards a reality. That is my summit that I will climb to the top of.
2020 B2S essay
I was diagnosed with leukemia in September of 2018. When I heard this diagnosis, I was devastated. As a teenager, getting cancer is very unexpected. I should have been living life to the fullest with my friends and family by my side. All that fun was put on hold when I was diagnosed. My life had suddenly hit an all time low. Life became very hard, but like they say; “There is always a light at the end of every tunnel.”
At the time of my diagnosis, I was just starting my junior year. It was time to start thinking about college and what my future held. I had no idea what field to pursue but after being diagnosed with cancer the picture became more clear.
During my treatment, I have spent many days and nights in the hospital and currently receive monthly chemo at the clinic at Children’s Hospital. Both places I have been taken care of by the most caring nurses. They always make me feel safe, comfortable, and happy even when times are hard. They make sure my family always knows I am in good hands. They know I am going through the fight of my life and do their best to keep my spirits high and give me hope.
After being around nurses so much for almost two years I found my calling. I decided nursing was the path I want to follow. Nursing will bring me joy and hopefully will bring joy to other people. Nurses have a big impact on people’s lives all over the world. I realize nursing is what I want to do. I want to impact someone’s life in a positive way. The same way nurses have taken care of me. Even if it is something as little as giving patients water or a pillow, I know I have helped them feel better. As someone who has been affected by cancer and its side effects, I know it’s hard being in a hospital bed and what it is like being in a cancer clinic getting treatment. It is never easy but being able to make someone feel comfortable and confident during a rough time in their life is why I strive to be a nurse.
In the long run, I want to achieve a lifetime full of happiness. I am confident nursing will help me achieve this goal. I will be attending Michigan State University in the fall to study nursing. I hope to be loved by everyone I come across. I have always been told to follow your heart and do what you love. A future in nursing will make this come true.
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to be an agricultural Engineer and at that time I loved the agricultural side of life and living on a farm. My whole life, agriculture is all I really enjoyed enough to spend the rest of my life doing. Then one phone call changed my entire life. I never was in the hospital or rarely even sick so I never had much exposure to the medical field until I was diagnosed with cancer. After diagnosis, I started spending all my days becoming more and more exposed with the human medical aspect of life and I absolutely loved nursing the more and more time I spent around it. I was always so curious on every little thing my medical team was doing. I would never wish cancer upon anyone; however, it was one of the most eye-opening obstacles that has ever happened to me. I would not change what happened to me in a heartbeat because it showed me what my calling was in life. The more exposure I became in the medical field the more I fell in love with it. Five years ago, I would have never thought my life would be where it is today, but I am so thankful. A cancer is a curse to most, but it has been a blessing to me. Now my plan is to go to college and receive my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. After I finish college and receive my degree, my dream job is to work in the hospital with pediatric oncology patients. I want to be able to show them that there is hope in life because I was just like them, and I have lived a great life since I was struck upon cancer. I want to change the world with one oncology patient at a time and show them we can overcome this awful time in life and conquer whatever mindset they have. Nothing is impossible id you believe you can accomplish it! With what I have gone through and I will bring with me forever, I want to be able to show others going through the same circumstance that there is hope in life and still a chance to succeed in life. I mean, look at where I am at in my life today and I had cancer as a child. My life after cancer has been so moving and so uplifting and I want to reach others with my story in my journey with life. After I receive my bachelor’s degree in nursing, I plan on working in the field for a few years and eventually go back to school and further my education to a masters and become a nurse practitioner.
My Journey from my Base to my Summit
When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 18, I don’t think I realized to what extent this diagnosis would change my life. Life as I had known it was replaced with hospitals, doctors and difficult treatments. I went from being a typical high school senior to a cancer patient. In a short time my “base” became a very different reality. However, having cancer changed me into a better person and altered my dreams and aspirations which I as working to achieve today.
As a cancer patient, I learned to become a more empathetic and kind person. I now better understand the value and need of a good word, a visit, or a get-well card for a sick child. After being on the receiving end of such kindness, I strive to repay the kindness I received. I have volunteered in hospitals, worked in an oncology camp, and even mentor young children while they area going through different medical challenges. I hope to be able to continue such work, and am always looking for opportunities to ease another’s medical journey in any way I can.
After receiving such great care form my medical team, I decided that I to want to make a career out of helping others. Therefore, I have chosen to pursue a degree in special education. As a special education teacher I will be able to help and teach others who struggle physically, academically, or medically. I will be able to use my creativity to teach those in difficult situations and help others learn despite their various challenges.
Fighting a life threatening illness has taught me that life is too important to waste by doing meaningless things. Cancer has taught me to live my life to the fullest and to stay focused on achieving my goals. I hope to not only have a successful career helping others and continue my volunteer work, but also to one day build a large beautiful family.
Cancer has not only changed my base, but has shaped my summit as well. As I move past hospitals, doctors, and treatment, I look forward to a bright future built on the aspirations and dreams I have built based off my experiences. I hope to use these attitudes, skills and newfound appreciation for kindness to live my life to the fullest and strive to be a better person each day. I think if I can keep my “base” in mind, it will help me to successfully reach my “summit”
CHSCF Scholarship Winner 2019
The Power of Music
Cancer changed my life. My world flipped upside down at the age of fourteen as I was thrust into a daily reality of pokes, chemo, hair loss and hospital life. Everything in my life had changed and my single focus was to survive. Physically, I faced what any cancer patient faces; low counts, pain, nausea, and exhaustion. Being in the survival mindset for years took a toll on my mind as well. As I processed the grief and scars of my journey, I dealt with issues of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. The mental struggle my cancer journey dealt me was harder than the physical in many ways. My treatment lasted over two and one half years, and this summer will be my final post treatment check up!
During my treatment, music became an important outlet for me. Playing piano allowed me to express the difficult emotions I was dealing with. It was a distraction and escape from the daily rigors of treatment. When I had lengthy hospital stays, the child life staff would bring a keyboard into my room for me to play. Piano was one of the few areas in my life that stayed somewhat normal. However, my cancer soon affected even that part of my life. Three different times throughout my treatment, I had temporary paralysis in my left arm caused by errors in procedures and a stroke-like reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs. For me, being unable to play piano was worse than losing my hair.
Since treatment, music remains an important part of my life. When I reflect on the important a role music played in my emotional and mental healing, I desire to give to others that gift. During my gap year, my abiding love of music became increasing apparent. I also discovered a passion for teaching. During that year, I ran a private studio of over 25 students, continued my own piano study, and auditioned for colleges. I am currently studying piano performance and piano pedagogy at Wheaton Conservatory of Music. I have thrived in my time at Wheaton thus far, winning the piano concerto competition this past fall and pursuing teaching opportunities in the community.
My future career goals include pursuing graduate studies in piano to enable my to teach and perform at a higher level. For me, reaching my summit means instilling a love of music in the next generation and bringing joy to others through my playing. Music has such a potential to transform, bring hope, comfort and heal and I am honored to make it my life’s work. I am eager for what my future holds!
No one ever thinks it’s going to be them hearing the words “you have cancer” but when it is you, you must re-evaluate your life and question where you’ll go from there. At such a young age I did not think I would have to quit my career and put my life on pause. Unfortunately, that is the reality for some people. While undergoing chemotherapy I received a drug that disabled me from continuing the route my life was currently on and ultimately put a stop to my professional dancing career. Lucky for me, my diagnosis jolted me in a completely new direction. I was faced with an entirely new base and there was nowhere to go but up. When I was in the hospital, I found it difficult to find anyone that was available to make a visit to my room to cut or shave my hair. I know I couldn’t have been the only one to encounter this problem. I felt this shouldn’t be a problem in the first place. So, I decided to be the one to change that. Now that I have figured out my new summit, I am excited and ready to conquer it. Finally, after a year of enduring chemotherapy and a long year of recovering from my bone marrow transplant, I am finally able to start taking steps in pursue of this new journey of mine.
I took my first steps in conquering this summit by enrolling in Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School. Reflecting on my experience, I would have loved to have even the tiniest bit of help to lighten the tremendous load I was already facing. I want to help make the experiences that are usually thought of as bad or inconvenient that cancer patients must go through and turn it into something much more positive and enjoyable. I would love to help whether it’s shaving their heads, styling their perfect wig, boosting their confidence with makeup, or making them feel relaxed with a spa day. I would be overjoyed to be that person they could rely on to ease some of their worries at such a trying time. I am ready to work hard and put in time in order to reach my summit because I aim to make a difference. It is so important to me to take my experiences and do something that is going to make a positive impact in other’s lives. By accomplishing this summit it will result in many new and exciting summits and I can’t wait to see where they’ll take me!
My first day of summer following my sophomore year of high school, I woke up early to drive to the University of Michigan. Typically, a trip to Ann Arbor would be filled with adventure for me, but that day wasn’t an adventure I wanted to experience. A month prior I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in situ, and my surgery was scheduled for the day after I finished my first year of high school.
When I was told about my diagnosis, I knew it was curable and I could manage it, but it didn’t feel that way. It had felt like my whole world was crashing down when I had just turned sixteen. I had lost interest in my hobbies, felt down all the time, and struggled to focus in school. Shortly after my surgery things started to get better, even though I had a few scares every now and then. I knew after this my life would never be the same. I don’t stay our in the sun for long, my mom is always reminding me to reapply sunscreen (as much as all mom’s would), and I’m constantly checking my skin for new moles or any changes. It’s been a little over a year since my diagnosis, and my life has definitely changed for the better.
While my experience brought me some hardships, it has also opened my eyes up to how I want to live my life. It sounds cheesy, but it really has allowed me to view my life differently. I learned that life is short and you shouldn’t be scared of everything. I have also learned to accept what I have to live with, and step put of my comfort zone. Right after I was diagnosed, I joined my school’s student council and was always hesitant at first to get involved. I have made so many new friends and grown as a leader in such a small amount of time. I also joined a relay for life team through my council; which became a big part of my life last year. While I was there, I met so many people of all ages who shared stories of their own and for their loved ones. It felt so amazing and empowering to have been surrounded by so many people like myself who were touched by something so terrible but turned it into something manageable.
Throughout my journey, my family has been my number one support system. They stayed by my side and always held me up when I couldn’t do it myself. With their help, I regained myself, and began focusing on school more and my future. I became interested in studying radiation therapy at Grand Valley State University, and already sent my application for next fall. My parents are very involved in my life and I’m so happy that they didn’t stop pushing me to do my best, even when it seemed impossible. My older brother has also been such an amazing role model through all of this because he helped me believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, no matter hard life gets. I can never repay them for all their help in making me who I am today but I can keep pushing through my struggles and make them proud with my bravery and accomplishments.
In summary, I have been able to turn my life around from a life changing diagnosis at the age of sixteen, to an amazing bright future at seventeen. My experience didn’t just change who I am as a person today, it defines the point in my life when I opened my eyes and discovered who I am and what I’m meant to do.
CHSCF Scholarship Winner 2018
One week after my second birthday party my life would forever be changed. This was when I was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a retina cancer, in my home country of Macedonia. I was lucky to be diagnosed, as there was only one working MRI in the entirety of the capital, Skopje, at the time. The waiting line for this was months and months but since my father had a friend whose neighbor was a doctor that reads MRIs, we got to skip the line. After this diagnosis my father called his relatives in the U.S. that were doctors and they highly advised them to do nothing Europe and come straight to the U.S. My father took the advice and we went to the U.S. The most difficult part was my family and me coming here and not knowing a single word of English. My great uncle and aunt gave us a home for a while and also found my dad a job. Then both my father’s cousins guided and talked us through the entire process. After coming to the U.S., Dr. Taub was the doctor who would treat me with the chemotherapy. Then after Dr. Roarty checked me out several times and, after 12 doses of chemotherapy and radiation, suggested to completely remove my right eye before it spread. Then Dr. Roarty proceeded to do the operation and remove my right eye along with the cancer. That was the end of all the pain and I could finally begin the next chapter of my life. This whole experience would end up showing me how grateful I am and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I want to give back everything I can to everyone who helped me through the whole process and helped me survive. Starting from my two amazing parents who did everything they could to ensure my survival, to my great uncle and aunt who flew us out here and guided us through everything, to all my relatives who helped us and helped us pay the medical bills, to Dr. Roarty and Dr. Taub who I owe everything to for saving me, and everyone in Children’s Hospital and the doctors in Macedonia who helped me. They’re the reason why I’m here today and writing this in the first place. I want to take everything I’ve learned and use it to pursue what I want to do in life.
Right now, how I pursue to help others is through National Honor Society at my school. I do volunteer work all around my community to help them. Some of the few different volunteer work I’ve done is tutoring, cleaning houses, cleaning parks, making water gardens, etc. I’ve even won some awards for this works, the main one being the Member of the Month, which is only a one-time winning award. But after I’m done with high school and not in the National Honor Society, I want to go into medical in college. I want to go into medical school and help others like how I was helped. Even though I don’t know what I want to be exactly, I will figure that on the way. I want to attend my dream university that I’ve wanted to go to ever since I was young, which is the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and get my degrees there. Then hopefully go on to be one of the best doctors and who knows maybe end up working for a sports team in Detroit.
I really can’t imagine how my life would’ve been without the cancer because I was diagnosed so young. But that whole experience made me the person I am today and it’s the main reason I want to go into the field I’m planning to go into. But there are many steps left on my journey, the next one being accepted to U of M Ann Arbor. Although my 4.3 cumulative GPA and 1300 score on the SAT make me a strong candidate to get accepted and get some scholarship money, it sadly won’t be enough for my family to afford. This is because U of M Ann Arbor is one of the top colleges in not just the United States but the entire world. My mom and dad both came from Macedonia with no English or education so it wasn’t much of a surprise they always pushed me to do well in school as they knew they couldn’t attend college. But since I’ve done so well in school I’ve helped them out a lot but it’s not enough to go and pursue my dream.
n July 2017, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the center of my brain. It wasn’t a surprise because I had been having terrible symptoms such as frequent urination and double vision for the months prior to July. When I went to the emergency room for double vision and a splitting headache, it was dismissed by the ER doctors as I was “too young” to have cancer. Days after we went for a second opinion because my symptoms were getting worse by the day. This is when I received the diagnosis of a pineal gland germinoma tumor. After four months of chemotherapy and 28 rounds of radiation, I went into remission.
Through my experience with cancer I have learned a lot about different medications and how they are used in procedures and treatment plans. I plan to become an anesthesiologist so that I can help others that are struggling with issues of their own. In a way, my experience was a form of schooling. I was able to remember so much about how different medical jobs are done because it affected me personally. Every time I went into the hospital, the only part I would look forward to is being knocked out because I was so nervous. I want to make the same difference in someone else’s life that the anesthesiologists made in mine. I am also very interested in the medical field because I remember all the little details well and understand how things work through my experiences more than most people would. I know the schooling for this field is extensive, but it pays off in the end in being able to help people.
One of the most important parts about being in the field of anesthesia is the relationship that you build with your patients. All my life I have been very careful with medications and made sure to never take too much. This will help me because I am aware of the advantages and disadvantages of many medications, which will help me to administer proper dosages. As an anesthesiologist, you must be aware of your patient’s tolerances. All the knowledge I have acquired over the past year sets me up for this job perfectly. I would have never thought about this career otherwise. I guess the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is true. I have made the best of my awful experience and hope I can help others in the future by making the same difference that my doctors made for me.
CHSCF Scholarship Winner 2017
My life has been forever altered by my cancer diagnosis, it put an entirely new mountain to be scaled in front of me. My new base was one I was not well equipped for, and it portrayed itself as one of the hardest endeavors I could ever possibly experience. For me, my base was adjusting to my new life with cancer. I had to put a halt to my former life, goals, and dreams to commit all my energy towards my battle with cancer. This is how my new base came along, and the beginning of my climb to my new summit. Once I began to adjust my life I knew that I had to establish for myself a new vision to reach, a summit to continue climbing towards. So that’s exactly what I did, and my new summit was colored green and white with the strongest mascot I can imagine. My newest summit was to be accepted to the college of my dreams, Michigan State University, and go into their nursing program. This became my newest summit for a variety of reasons, including their phenomenal nursing program, their breath-taking campus and the fact that the Michigan State University Pediatric Oncology program saved my life. Since I received all of my treatments at Sparrow Hospital that works in partnership with the MSU pediatric oncology program, they helped me realize that I have so much to offer in my life with the talents, wisdom, and gratitude I have gained. That I can turn my cancer diagnosis into something honorable; to help those whose shoes I was once in. Furthermore, I propose to go into Michigan State University and become a Nurse Practioner, who specializes in pediatric oncology. I want to help others, so that no child is left feeling alone or scared. In my life I want to make a purposeful change, and that is a summit I will never stop trying to achieve.
This past year, I was having an amazing experience at Central Michigan University in my sophomore year. I was enjoying my classes, getting involved in ROTC and began playing division 2 club hockey. This could be considered my old base, but I began to find a new base halfway through my hockey season with I started to notice my vision was a little odd; I was noticing that when I looked a certain way it became distorted or double. But being the stubborn person I waited until after my hockey season and until I got back from an Army competition out of state to get them checked. In February, I got an MRI and found the tumor, then a couple days later I was at U of M being diagnosed with brain cancer. In March I received a brain biopsy and since then, I have begun my first two chemo rounds and will follow that with radiation. This is my current base.
My summit is a very optimistic one, as it had been before I was diagnosed. However, it includes a new outlook on life and has given me a new feeling of strength and willpower. This feeling started immediately after I was diagnosed when I told myself: “of course this would happen to me, it makes sense this way.” This isn’t a pessimistic view on the situation, but rather optimistic because I believe that if I want to reach all the challenging goals I set for myself in life, I need to be able to overcome any and every obstacle I face. What better challenge to face than one of this magnitude, to prove to myself that I am as strong and capable as I believe? My goals for life start with graduating from college with degrees in International Relations and Law of Economics, then receiving my commission as an officer into the Army. I’m striving to become an infantry platoon leader and I hope to stay in the military long enough for a retirement, but I don’t plan to spend the whole time on active duty. I would return to the reserves, which is what I am currently in, and obtain a job in federal law enforcement. Furthermore, I plan to apply for some internships occurring next summer in the federal law enforcement field, including the FBI, DEA, or Secret Service.
I have a long and difficult summit ahead of me, but I know I can reach the top following this minor bump in the road. This experience so far, has given me a new and more powerful outlook on life. I have found a new sense of self-strength and optimism in myself, which I will use to reach for the top of my summit.
CHSCF Scholarship Winner 2016
My Testimony Towards Reaching My Summit:
I was always focused on my improvements in my life. That has always been my base. The effect of being diagnosed with cancer made my new base more motivational towards reaching my summit. Upon my diagnoses I was currently in school reaching my most important goal, which was making it into the Mortuary Science Program.
During my treatment I didn’t let anything stop me. Even though I had to take a medical leave from school, I still attended my interview for Mortuary school. This was a big eye-opener for me to push forward and be determined. Losing my father to lung cancer in 2013 was my first test, then not five months later I found out that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My base was being affected tremendously, but I didn’t realize I was being set up to reach my summit.
This was something new to me that was totally unexpected and I honestly was nervous about my outcome. After awhile I gained more motivation through the support from family and friends to keep pushing forward through good spirit. I went through a process of losing my hair and being unable to perform certain functions of daily operation. I didn’t let this effect me because I let my spirit to overlook the negative and insert the positive for my future benefit. Upon my closing months towards the end things got harder. I didn’t want to attend chemotherapy nor did I want to accompany myself around others. My judgment day finally came and everything was finally over I then received my results in the moth of October. My successful results caused me to leave the Cancer Institute in tears of joy and I knew I had a new base to cover in order to reach my summit.
My next step of operation was removing my port out of my chest and I kept it for significance of reminder of my journey. Before I finished treatment, I enrolled back in the school. In the month of June I had a second interview where I was accepted into Mortuary school on the spot. Things begin to look up in my favor. Currently, I am attending the Wayne State University Mortuary Science Program. School has become a part of my every day process and I’m focused on becoming a successful Funeral Director. I plan to be, in the next five years, done with school and working in my career field. This process has been a journey and I have fought a good fight with determination of not giving up. Going through my health challenge has been a struggle that I overcame and I didn’t let it get the best of me. Even though cancer is a hard thing to get through it really helped me formulate a stronger plan towards reaching my summit. My testimony is strong and I will one day be able to tell someone my life was tested on the faith of God to see how determined I would be towards reaching my summit. When you want to achieve a goal it’s best to never let anything get in your way nor surround yourself with a negative perspective. I believed in myself and I came through like a champ. The best is yet to come!
To hear a doctor tell you that you have cancer is one of the most heart-dropping phrases a person can hear. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that phrase three times in the last three and a half years. I never fully understood the limitations that would come with cancer-physically and mentally. After the cancer was gone and I was able to return to normal life, I had to basically start all over. My “base” was and 83lb, bald 17 year-old who had spent more days in the hospital than in school for the past four years. I’m now a year into my climb and my future has never looked so bright. Each day I have little wins. Whether it is I can do more pushups than yesterday, I pushed past chemo brain and remembered something, or even that I could put my hair in a mini ponytail, I know that I’m one step closer to reaching my summit. While I was in treatment my summit was to fight cancer and win. Once I reached that summit, I knew that for my next one the possibilities were endless. If I could defy all the odds of cancer, I can do it in anything else too. Every time I reach one summit, I always find a new one. My summit is to graduate high school in four years, despite being in the hospital for most of it. Next, it’ll be to graduate from college and then to graduate from grad school. I will always have parts of my base with me-the memories, struggles, and the scars but it’s my base that motivates me. Each day I strive to achieve more and more because nothing, especially not cancer, is going to stop me. My ultimate summit, and most ambitious one, is to find the cure to cancer. I know what it’s like to hear the words that are terrifying and unfathomable. I hope to find a cure, so that no one else will ever have to hear that they have cancer again. Each day is one climb further from base and one closer to the summit.