This is our latest Hero, as she is the 2017 Herbies Heroes Scholarship winner and her winning essay is below.
Cancer kills. Not only does it physically inflict pain upon our loved ones, in the end, it mentally affects us all. I was only 12 when my grandmother passed away from her third diagnosis of cancer. It changed the lives of everyone around me, including myself.
When I was a young child, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer in her kidney. My family searched to find a specialist to work with her, and by the time they did, they discovered that the cancer had spread to her other kidney. After her surgeries were over and the cancer was “cleansed” from her body, she only had ½ of a kidney left. From that day forward, she fought to live everyday like it was her last. She was always bright, and would spread her happiness as far as she could. She dedicated her life to helping others and being there for her family while she still could. When I started the third grade I began transitioning back and forth from my house to my grandparents because my parents worked and meanwhile we would spend hours playing games, doing homework, and watching classics on tv. I would sleep in the room my mother grew up in. My mother was an only child and her mother was her greatest influence and best friend throughout her life-time as well. I stayed so often that she would take me to and from school all the time. My 6th grade year, my world flipped upside down when she got diagnosed with brain cancer. Family and friends were as supportive as they could be but there is nothing like watching such a disease eat at someone’s soul, their happiness and ambitions. Watching the life leave my grandmother’s body was awful to witness and feel. It was the most devastating thing I had to experience at that point in life myself.
The same year held the day that she fought until her last minute and struggled for her last breath. The day she moved onto heaven was the day my childhood best friend died. I had just seen her the night before and my heart felt as if i should have never left that room. I had never experienced death before that point with such close relation, and it tore at my heart for years. My mother was so devastated because she had such little family left and my grandmother was one of the greatest women we knew. She taught each of us to read, do math, play card games, make arts and crafts, clean, have manners, to help others and to always be respectful. One major characteristic that she swayed was the passion for art.
To this day, her life impression has never left me. I dedicate myself to school and becoming better because of that beautiful woman. I live my life as if she were here to see what I do and to make her proud. In my last year in high school I stepped up for a vice presidential roll of my National Honors society and dedicated more than 100 hours to community service around the school. I am within the top 5% of my senior class and work every day to accomplish this. My hobby now is to express others and myself through drawings, paintings and sculptures. Without her shaping this love for such a subject and love for others, I would never be interested in obtaining my masters in Art therapy. She guided me into loving working hard and helping others along the way. My grandmother was one of the first influences in my life. She taught me to be dedicated to your work and love what you do as you do it. Cancer will never define who my grandmother was, and she will always be remembered for being the helpful and loving human being she was.