This is our latest Hero, as she is one of the 2019 Herbies Heroes Scholarship winners and her winning essay is below.
I believe the closest thing to evil in this world is cancer. Not due to the number of lives it takes, but because it slowly tears down the people you cherish piece by piece. It forces you to watch your loved ones fade away into a former shell of themselves. Before my grandmother was changed into the woman she is today, she had gone above and beyond her duties as a grandparent. While my mother was working to support me, my grandmother helped with anything I ever needed. I still remember many adventures we went on when I was younger.
Those memories grew distant as time went on, and as the years passed something else changed too. We started to notice a large mass forming on her shoulder. I still remember sitting with her in the doctor’s office overhearing that she needed to be hospitalized for a biopsy. A few weeks later, I stood in my kitchen with my arms wrapped around my mother and grandmother crying my eyes out. In 2012 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It didn’t seem like it was real. I was scared for her, for what she was going to choose to do and for what she was going to go through. I didn’t even entertain the thought of losing her because it wasn’t an option. After a long and hard round of chemotherapy we all thought we were out of the woods. Her cancer seemed to have another idea.
Since then, she has gone through six grueling rounds of chemotherapy, two rounds of radiation and one stem cell transplant. She’s experienced horrific days, all the while maintaining her strong image. After all the hospital visits, the bloodwork, and the various tests, you can easily forget what life was like before all of it. Like what she looked like before her hair fell out several times. Or how the family used to spend time elsewhere instead of at the hospital or doctor’s office.
After falling into a pit of my emotions, I started to beat myself up. If my grandmother could handle everything she went through, why couldn’t I get through my own battles that were much smaller than hers? I finally mustered up enough courage to ask her why she kept going. Her answer shocked me.
She wanted to stay on this earth as long as possible in order to see me grow and accomplish everything I planned to within the next few years. She wanted to see me run across the stage at graduation screaming at the top of my lungs “I did it!” My drive to maintain my good grades and to take more challenging advanced courses went through the roof after that conversation. I wanted to make sure I was going to live up to her expectations in every way. I faced some hardship along the way. I struggled through school every day while my grandmother struggled through life. Yet she persisted, and so did I.
As my last year of high school approaches and college looms in the near future, I am more than pleased with what I’ve done in these few short years. My grandmother is proud of my accomplishments as well. I’ve been accepted into two of my dream colleges and I have become the American Cancer Society Youth Ambassador for Orange Park High. I plan on majoring in Event Planning so I can manage and plan events such Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer that raise money and provide resources for families fighting cancer that cannot afford treatment and transportation. Even if she leaves me soon, I will always continue to push towards my academic goals and life goals. If there’s one thing that she’s taught me, it’s to never give up.