We all have gifts that we dream of using to uplift those around us. For some people who are stricken by cancer, the ability to use those gifts can be threatened by the very surgeries that help bring them back to health. Genesis Codina is one such cancer survivor, whose ability to sing was nearly taken away when she underwent treatment for thyroid cancer. Despite this setback, she was determined to strengthen her voice and return to singing once more. She just sent us an update, letting us know just how well her journey back to singing is going. Take a moment to read, and listen, to Genesis’ update below:
“Hello! Happy New Year!! I hope everyone is doing great. I’m Genesis, one of the 2015 Perpetual Scholarship winners and I just wanted to stop by and thank you again for everything that you do. I also would like to share with you that I’m doing great at UC Santa Barbara. I’m really excited about everything I’m doing but one of the things I want to share with you today is this video where I was invited by a Latin American visiting History professor to perform one of his compositions for UCSB Amplified. UCSB Amplified is the new performance series featuring UC Santa Barbara students, faculty and staff. Live-recorded mini-concerts showcase UCSB’s exceptional and diverse music scene. I am beyond thrilled to be recognized by my university as one of their exceptional talents. After suffering from vocal cord paralysis from my thyroid cancer surgery, this is sort of a big deal for me since I couldn’t sing for a while. I hope you enjoy the video and hopefully you can share it as well. Thank you so much for your wonderful support.”
To personally make a difference in the lives of cancer survivors like Genesis, go to cancerforcollege.org to learn more and donate.
“You are cancer-free.”
Few words have as much power to send chills down your spine and a smile across your face as these. After months, years, or even decades of battling back and forth with a disease that threatens your very existence this news offers proof that you have, indeed, triumphed! Sometimes, raucous celebrations ensue with friends and family (in my case, there was also a water fight, with super soakers and water-filled syringes, in the halls with some of my incredible nurses) as everyone’s energy combines and crescendos until it reaches an almost dreamlike peak. Other times, it is more befitting to sit in silence, stunned that it is over; you realize that somehow your body has been tensed since you received your diagnosis, and you revel in relaxation.
However it happens, chances are you missed hearing the doctor tell you about check-ups, potential long-term effects, and everything else that goes into being a cancer survivor. All aspects of assisting people who are in remission fall under the umbrella of “survivorship,” but that does not give any indication about how such programming helps you, well, survive.
Childhood cancer survival rates in the United States have increased from less than 20% in the 1960s to almost 80% in 2010.
Science has improved by incredible leaps so that more people afflicted with cancer before adulthood actually get the chance to live a long life. The major issue we now face is not whether most children will live through cancer, but how well they will live once they do; survivorship intends to answer that question. With the recent uptick in childhood cancer survivors, there has been a distinct shift in focus by research institutions to study the long-term effects of cancer during periods of massive human development.
City of Hope, the same hospital that cured the founder of Cancer for College and many of our recipients, designed one such program to care for and evaluate young cancer survivors over a long period of time in order to better understand and mitigate any complications that might arise. Their survivorship program utilizes the expertise of a physician, nurse practitioner, dietitian, and psychologist to provide the most holistic and practical help possible.
Cancer for College is another organization that takes survivorship seriously, picking up where hospitals stop. A vast majority of our most meaningful life experiences and aspirations occur outside the walls of a research facility, and college is a time when so many of those are born and begin to come into focus. College students face the pressure to make a difference, choose the right major, make friends, and impress parents that adding potential medical issues and the unique mentality of being a cancer survivor can easily become overwhelming. This is where Cancer for College, and other organizations like Cuck Fancer and Dear Jack Foundation, are able to provide some much needed relief and resources.
Being a part of the Cancer for College family opens many doors to help cancer survivors become healthy and thriving. Receiving a scholarship is a crucial beginning that removes some of the burden of paying for college, thus making space for creativity and freedom to figure out who they are and how they are to accomplish their dreams. Along with this comes our desire for our recipients, and all childhood cancer survivors, to never feel like they are alone. That is why we love to encourage our recipients to get together with each other, past recipients, and mentors who understand what it is like to actually live daily as a cancer survivor.
If you have a college-bound cancer survivor in your life, or are one yourself, please apply for our scholarship. Head to www.cancerforcollege.org/application.html for more details and to begin the application. The deadline is January 31 so you have no time to lose! We would love to help you along your journey of survivorship.
Be still for just one moment and prepare to be amazed: right now, your fingers are tingling. How do I know that? Because the scholarship application deadline for the 2016-17 season is right around the corner – January 31 – and your phalanges are just itching to either fly across the keyboard to complete your own application, or fly across the touchscreen to tell a deserving cancer survivor you know to get cracking!
As is the case every year, our general scholarship is open to any U.S. resident and cancer survivor who is enrolled in an accredited college or university in the United States. We also have two region-specific scholarships available for anyone from or attending school in the Pacific Northwest or either of the Carolinas. However, in the past few years we have added additional, optional scholarships to which eligible applicants can apply! By partnering with some amazing organizations and families who share our passion for cancer survivors, we are able to provide even more scholarships to more cancer survivors every year, for which we are deeply grateful.
“Just who are these amazing organizations and families?” Good question! Without further ado, let us introduce you to our partners in crime giving. Perhaps you will find that you are eligible for another scholarship.
CFC recipient Kalina Campion (left) and her sister Kiana performed with Andrew McMahon at a Dear Jack benefit show.
Dear Jack Scholarship: Andrew McMahon and his band Jack’s Mannequin were in the midst of their first U.S. headlining tour when he found out that he had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. After successfully undergoing a host of treatment, and recognizing just how destructive cancer can be to young adults and their dreams, Andrew founded the Dear Jack Foundation. “Through outreach, collaboration, and focused initiatives, DJF works to create more positive health outcomes and improved quality of life for all young adults in this fight.”
The Dear Jack Scholarship is open to cancer survivors pursuing a career in the music industry. Declaring a music-related major is not required, but applicant must demonstrate how they plan to use music in their career.
“Frank the Tank” Scholarship: The strength of one incredible person is enough to inspire and encourage countless others, and Frank Lozoya epitomized that mentality. As a four-time brain cancer survivor, Frank faced every challenge with determined smile and selflessness; even while undergoing treatment, he worked as a Behavioral Interventionist working specifically with autistic children and attended CSU Fullerton. With the help of a scholarship from Cancer for College and lots of hard work Frank proudly graduated with a BS in Kinesiology in May 2014. Sadly, Frank completed his fight with cancer in January 2016, but his passionate endurance and loving legacy endures in the form of the scholarship he created.
The “Frank the Tank” Scholarship is open to cancer survivors that are either currently receiving treatment or has long lasting side effects of cancer treatments (i.e. chemo brain) and will be attending California State University, Fullerton.
Henry Streuli Memorial Scholarship: In his 14 years on this earth, Henry loved everyone, from babies to seniors. Henry was passionate about Jesus and his values of equality and love for all of humanity. He was a tenacious individual who never let his small stature hinder his ability to succeed. Whether it be pitching a 50+mph fast ball on the baseball team, ATVing up the largest sand dune or fishing off the coast of Alaska, Henry could conquer it all.
The Henry Streuli Memorial Scholarship is open to any cancer patient or survivor who is from and/or will be attending an accredited school or university in Washington, Oregon, Idaho or Montana.
Leonard Family Entrepreneurial Spirit Scholarship: Lettuce be the first to say that if you were to meat long-time Cancer for College supporter Steve Leonard, you would see that he is bread for business. The tenacity with which he works has led him to great success as a Jersey Mike’s franchiser, to the tune of 10 restaurants opened with his business partner, Fred Downey. Sandwiched between his love of food and his talent for restaurant management is his passion for giving back to the worthy cancer survivors we all love.
The Leonard Family Entrepreneurial Spirit Scholarship is open to students pursuing a business-related degree with a desire to pursue career in food service industry and potentially own & operate a restaurant.
Ross Skelton Memorial Scholarship: Ross Skelton graduated from Auburn University in 1986 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and quickly rose through the engineering ranks. Ross eventually became the Chief Commercial Officer at SPX FLOW in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he helped lead a global multi-industry manufacturing leader with approximately $2.5 billion in annual revenue, operations in more than 35 countries and over 8,000 employees. Even though he traveled the world for business Ross loved to make time for jokes, golf, and time with friends and family.
The Ross Skelton Memorial Scholarship is open to any cancer survivor from or attending school in North or South Carolina with a special consideration toward engineering students attending North Carolina State University or Auburn University.
Skip Wohl Memorial Scholarship: Whether he was constructing commercial real estate or de-constructing a tennis opponent, Skip Wohl took to life like it was one big adventure after another. After graduating from USC with a BS in Finance in 1962, he went to work at the family construction company, transforming it over the next three decades into a trusted real estate development group with a knack for being creative and upbeat. When he was not at work, Skip actively engaged in trail riding, tennis, golf, and water and snow skiing. Not one to miss out on the excitement and joy of family, he was also the happy husband of his wife Jan for more than 50 years, a father of two children, a grandfather of four.
The Emil “Skip” Wohl Memorial Scholarship is open to cancer survivors who must be both from AND attending school in Southern California. The scholarship committee is looking for applicants who have faced the challenge of their cancer diagnosis head on while they continue to make a positive impact on the world around them and live life to the fullest.
The Cherry Hawk Scholarship: The loved ones of Skip Wohl and some of his trail riding buddies established the Cherry Hawk Scholarship in order to give back to cancer survivors who embody the same energetic and active zeal for life.
The Cherry Hawk Scholarship is open to students from or attending school in Southern California. Student should aspire to a professional career studying in the fields of Sports Information, Sports Medicine (inc. Physical Therapist, Sports Psychology or related field), Sports Management Sports Marketing, Sports Journalism or Communications. Applicants can also be an active member of a university team that aspires to play their sport at the next level.
To learn more about any of our scholarships email email@example.com or call us at 760-599-5096.
Once a year, a phenomenon occurs in which people everywhere remember that more than Amazon packages can be delivered in the mail, and pictures can include more than one’s meal. These “Christmas cards” allow friends and family to remain up-to-date with the major happenings of the previous year, and sometimes Cancer for College is lucky enough to be included on the mailing list. We love staying informed about everything going on in the lives of our recipients, and so appreciate that Ashley Snyder (2014-15 recipient) was gracious enough to fill us in. Here is the update Ashley sent out on her wonderful, busy year:
I am happy to be writing you after having successfully completed the Summer and Fall semesters here at Nova Southeastern University here in Florida. The Summer was my final time having to be in a classroom full time as August began my clinical rotations! The ability to do what I have been working towards for 20 years is the best feeling! I have rotated through the Emergency Room where I was able to suture, reset broken bones, and even get beads out of a two year old’s nose and ear. I have also spent time in Family Medicine and Cardiology. Watching open heart surgery where they replaced the mitral valve was an experience I will never forget!
Being offered a job during the first set of rotations was extremely flattering and something I will be keeping in mind as I continue forward in my studies. My grades have remained great in the midst of working 50 hour weeks. I am so happy to be doing what I love and constantly being exposed to all aspects of medicine. I will continue to keep you updated as my next rotations will consist of Urology, Surgery, Trauma, and OB/GYN. This next semester will include being both a practitioner and a patient which is always a difficulty to balance. And as the time approaches for my 2 year visit to Moffitt Cancer Center, I would appreciate any prayers or positive thoughts you might send my way. Thank you so much for your support and helping make these experiences possible!
Thank you so much for the update, Ashley! You are doing so well, and everyone in the Cancer for College family will keep you in our thoughts as you surge forward and make 2016 another great year!
By: Mitch Friesen, CFC recipient 2011 & Director of Growth and Community
Music in malls, restaurants, and on the radio all over the country tout this season as “the most wonderful time of the year.” For many people, that is exactly what it is, coming together with family and friends for all sorts of blissful shenanigans. Christmas is supposed to be a time of relaxation, rejuvenation, and reconnection. However, for some people every year – like me and my family back in 2001 – the holidays feel more like the embodiment of a Batman villain: smiling out of one side of your face and grimacing out the other. You are stuck in this surreal place wondering how so many emotions could be packed into one person, which one you should portray, and how all this even happened.
You see, we are told that cancer changes everything, that it takes so much, but we do not expect it to take away the joy of the holidays. To us, those are sacred times for memories to be made and traditions to endure. All of the preparation that goes into creating that memorable space came forcibly to a halt when I was diagnosed with an advanced stage III form of B-cell lymphoma on December 14, 2001 (my sister’s birthday, no less). The next week was a blur of medical information and shock that I just won a lottery of an illness. As our new reality came into focus we realized that Christmas was just around the corner, and this year would be spent in a pediatric oncology ward.
How do you deal with a situation like this: recognizing that there is a pall cast over a normally-carefree and happy time, and that it is unavoidable and for the health of a child? It can be a scary and overwhelming dilemma, especially if you keep those feelings bottled up inside you where no one else can help. The truth is, though, that as a family you go through these trials together, and everyone is feeling the exact same way. Even so, each member of a family (and the many friends who would be by your side in an instant) has something unique to offer as part of the solution – however temporary – to hospital holiday. The point is to do so together.
For me and my family, this meant decorating the room with our own tiny Christmas tree, lights, and wintry window art. Everyone also unwrapped presents in that little hospital room, cramping the space with bodies and wrapping paper, but worth it because there was no way that anyone could mistake the life overflowing from all of us. I probably felt nauseous at some point, and a nurse periodically dropped by to change my IV, reminding us of our location. When faced with having Christmas in a cancer ward, make it as good as possible, but even more important is for your holiday to be memorable. Time with our loved ones is too precious a gift to waste waiting for a perfect moment that will never come. May you be able to seize a wonderful Christmas for others and yourself, wherever you may be.
At this time of year, we especially want to remember how cancer has altered the holiday plans, not to mention lives, of so many families, including many future members of the Cancer for College family. This Christmas, please join us in giving the lasting gift of a college education to deserving cancer survivors (donate HERE). Have a Merry Christmas!
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.
When it comes to giving back, you are flush with options. There are so many worthy causes nowadays with so many needs, how do you choose which ones to help? After you know who to help you also have the task of figuring out what you will do to make a difference. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a great starting point to launch you into some meaningful service.
- Be Brave
The most difficult step to take is the first one. By that, I mean actually letting the right person know that you are ready and willing. If you already know that you love a certain charity and want them to succeed, then it should be easy for you to get in touch with someone who works there and just ask what they need. This will certainly get their attention and you will quickly be given tasks or options regarding how you can help out. There is always something to do because there are always people in need. Even if you have to learn something new or go a little outside of your comfort zone, simply emailing or calling is definitely the most straightforward way to help.
- Spread the Word, Specifically to Your Friends
Your social circle is more influential than you might think. Just being yourself and caring for the charity that you love, but doing so in front of your friends and family, can show them just how much they, too, care about the same cause. Like a cold in kindergarten, helping others is infectious. The great part is that each of your friends knows people who would love to get on board as well, if they only hear about it. Try something like this: each month, have a party where the theme is the host’s favorite charity. Make it awesome with food, drinks, fun activities, and maybe even a guest from the charity itself. Talk, and listen too, as your friends and family have great causes on their mind too. Chances are, each time you do this you will get to know everyone better. Who knows, you may even find a new favorite charity.
- Show Up
Liking photos and sharing infographics with important facts lets the internet know what you care about, but the most difference is made when people are reminded that you are a living, breathing human being. There is a fundraising event happening near you? Commit yourself to attend, either as a volunteer or participant. In the age of social media, we can feel involved and helpful without lifting more than a finger. Don’t get me wrong, there are incredible ways to assist from the couch sometimes, but real people in real need will at some point require the presence of other people to make a real difference. After all, in the end people help people, and organizations are conduits to make that happen. Your unique expertise, all the way down to your common hands, feet, and willing smile are needed to make your favorite charity a lasting success.
We are brimming with excitement to be able to help so many people accomplish their dreams, and we are only here because so many great people decided to put into action some or all of the suggestions I just mentioned. There are so many ways to get involved. What are your ideas? Tell us in the comments below. We would love to hear about it!