DU National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship Question

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What does survivorship mean to you? (Essay must answer/address this question.)Format requirements: •Typed, double spaced •12 pt. Times New Roman or Arial font •One inch margins •Minimum length of one full page but no more than two pages •Include applicants name at the top right corner of each page •The essay will become the property of the NCCS and may be used for future publications/promotional materials should a scholarship be awarded

What does survivorship mean to me? There are probably many answers that one can think of. Is survivorship some sort of badge that you mentally wear? Is it a ray of sunshine, to help brighten others’ chances? What does survivorship mean to anyone? Anybody could come up with a different answer with many experiences.

I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 11 in late September 2014. I remember the day like it was yesterday, I missed school due to severe leg pain. My parents took me to the hospital to get examined surprisingly the doctors couldn’t pinpoint the root cause of my pain. They had to draw my blood and run it through the lab. My doctor came back and next thing I remember I was being laid down in a stretcher and being rushed to another hospital called Vanderbilt in an ambulance truck. My mind was racing; I had mixture of emotions flowing through me as I was excited but also scared in my first ambulance ride. I arrived at Vanderbilt hospital and was taken to a hospital room. I panicked when I had all these doctors and nurses surrounding me and my family, that’s when they confirmed my diagnosis: I had cancer.

What does survivorship mean to me?

At age 11, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in late September 2014. I remember that I had a day off from school and my parents took me to a hospital. There had been something wrong with I had pain in my leg over the summer. and the doctor did many tests but couldn’t figure out what was wrong until another doctor came forward and filled me and my family in on the unexpected discovery. I was taken to Vanderbilt hospital, and a few days later, the doctors there confirmed the diagnosis: I had cancer.

Being taken to Vanderbilt hospital in an ambulance, I was laid down on a stretcher looking around me and I had a mixture of emotions flooding through me as I was excited but also scared.I recall my first time heading to Vanderbilt. I arrived at Vanderbilt hospital and was taken to a hospital room. I panicked when I had all these doctors and nurses surrounding. Being poked and prodded is not great. I had a fun time getting to know the other patients and playing with them, chatting with the nurses, and watching movies. There were plenty of fun times, like playing with the other patients, hanging out with the nurses, and watching movies. I did not, however, liked whenever someone would insert medicine into my IV. I could nearly taste the chemo as it was coursing through my veins.

During my chemotherapy, I felt sick all the time. I needed to eat more to keep my strength up. I would throw up because I was nauseous a lot. I had a port in my chest that was hard to sleep with because it was difficult not to notice or feel it, but I am happy it is now a proud battle scar on my chest. I lost my hair and had to cut it all off. Once I had an allergic reaction to one of the medications given to me and I suffered the consequences dearly. Because of my treatment, I had to shift to home school, but it helped with my situation, and I caught up with school.

When I finished my chemotherapy in early 2017, I was over the moon because, despite all the obstacles and hurdles I went through, I still made it to the finish line and that made all those years worth it. Overcoming cancer was no easy task. It was a challenge to me for years, but it was also a journey like I was finally coming home from a long trip and came back with this newfound wisdom. It feels like an accomplishment or a goal, like when I keep trying to beat the final boss in Mario and fail every time but eventually beat him and level up.

I’m thankful for my family and friends who supported me all those years. I am also grateful to the universe for letting me live another day. I knew from the beginning of my journey that this happened under circumstances outside my control, and I’ve accepted that but I’m glad that these experiences taught me some hard truths.

According to Google, survivorship is, “the state or condition of being a survivor.” To me, survivorship is waking up every morning and choosing to fight, despite your body not wanting to. I was weak for a long time but knowing I would get stronger helped me on the road to get there. Survivorship is supposed to be this beacon of hope, that isn’t necessarily the end of your journey but the beginning of a new one. Encouraging cancer patients to this goal should be our next journey. Survivorship means staying alive after the worst has happened. The worst has already happened to a lot of cancer patients and many of them survived. For those that didn’t, this just means that the rest of us living should appreciate it that much more.

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