This is our latest Hero, as she is one of the 2018 Herbies Heroes Scholarship winners and her winning essay is below.
In my 18 years of life, cancer has always been a large part of it. It has always been the forefront of my mind and my families lives, whether it be a benign or a malignant cancer it has affected almost everyone in my family. Through the struggles my family has had with cancer, we have managed to come out time and time again stronger and better than before. Cancer has led my passion for becoming part of the medical field and helping those in late stages of cancer and those affected with skin cancer by becoming a CNA, then a nurse, and finally a dermatologist.
My first instance of cancer was before I was born, my grandfather, Rulan “Rudy” Ratzlaff passed away due to lung cancer in 1991, this led me to want to know more about what took my grandfather away and how we have developed treatments since then to fight cancer. My second instance was my Great Aunt Jo, who died of ovarian cancer 8 years ago. This was the first person I had known that was a personal loss. This loss spurred on my need to know how I could help in fighting cancer by researching careers in the medical field in Junior High School.
Through these early losses my family unfortunately wasn’t able to escape cancer. My Uncle Guy Ratzlaff was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and needed a bone marrow donation. Even at a young age I still asked my mother if I was able to donate to him because I wanted to find some way to help my family. Right before I entered high school, my cousin Brad Ratzlaff was diagnosed with a deadly bone marrow cancer in his knee right before his high school graduation. Even after multiple surgeries and chemo treatments, he walked across the stage and got his diploma with the support and cheers of friends, classmates, and family. My cousin’s cancer made me realize how quickly and how merciless cancer can be to anyone; this instance drove me to pursue a career in the medical field by joining the Raiders Health Academy.
In my senior year I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Nursing Assistant program to eventually gain my CNA license prior to graduating high school. Throughout that experience, I was able to work alongside medical professionals in a rehabilitation and hospital setting and gain first hand experience working in the medical field. Unfortunately in April, right before I was due to take my CNA exam, my Uncle Scott Ratzlaff was rushed to the ICU due to ongoing complications and cancer that had spread throughout his body, he passed peacefully on April 22, 2018 at 1:15 pm right before I took my test. I didn’t know it at the time but after my test when I got the news, I knew that he was with me during my test and gave me the strength I needed to pass. Since my family’s loss I have decided to dedicate my future in the medical field to him and do my best to make him proud even though he cannot be here with me.
In summary, throughout my years in the medical academy I have been able to learn so much and determine my career in the medical field. I wish to pursue a career in dermatology, so I can help those with skin cancers and any other skin conditions get better and feel better about themselves. Cancer has played a large role in my life and I believe it will continue to do so, not exactly in the most positive aspects but will drive me to do all I can to help those suffering from cancer.