Emily Whitworth Texas Christian University Biology/Med School Wilm’s Tumor – 4-time survivor
“My experience as a helpless patient fearing for their life was made better by the many men and women who put me first and came up with methods to save me. They have made me want to go out and save lives just like mine.” These words, penned by Emily herself, display the depth of character brought on by a lifetime of experiences. No one should have a lifetime of experiences by the time she is 12, but Emily’s four diagnoses by that age gave her just that. Even so, Emily continues to hold sway over her own life, always excelling at school, playing softball, learning piano, and getting a cat.
However, it is the people who poked and prodded her in the hospital to whom she attributes such freedom and success. Thanks to them, not only is she alive today but also on track to save lives just like hers. “Those nurses, doctors, and specialists,” she says, “made sure I knew what was going on with my body.” Already having faced so much, Emily is poised to begin a new adventure at college so that she can go back and provide hope and health to other cancer patients.
Osteosarcoma – 3-time survivor
When cancer hits, it hits hard, and no one knows this better than Ben. The first time Osteosarcoma struck him, it made him miss the entirety of sixth grade due to surgeries and chemotherapy. Right when Ben was beginning to feel confident toward the end of seventh grade the cancer returned. Already shaken from his first bout, the severity of the cancer forced Ben into a wheelchair for a year. School and sports were different. Life was different. Ben was more different, still.
As hard as cancer tried to overwhelm him – even coming back a third time – Ben was stronger. Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times was “a completely different world, one that even cancer can’t claim,” allowing Ben to restore his confidence and self-worth as he led other survivors to the same. He has since taken lessons in photography, art, and ceramics, even donating some of his work for cancer research fundraisers. His true love, though, is computers. When he was wheelchair-bound, he began playing video games and proceeded to build his own computer and became a staff member for a gaming network with a community of roughly 8 million people. Some of the people he has met online are now Ben’s closest friends. In his words, “my online life has helped me cope with my treatment, but what began as a coping mechanism became one of the most informative journeys of my life.”
UW – Seattle
Computer Engineering, minor in Physics
Life was good – really good – for Patrick in his final semester of high school. As a senior he already earned 75 college credits and was on the cheer squad at Eastern Washington University. School was winding down and with college on the horizon Patrick decided to look for an internship at a tech startup. That day, his life changed: “Instead of an internship and preparing for college, my next summer consisted of chemo, spending my 18th birthday signing release forms, losing hair, and not being able to attend graduation.”
All of the plans that Patrick had worked so hard to achieve seemed to slip from his grasp when he fainted at that tech fair and learned that he had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and necrotizing fasciitis in his left arm. Cancer broke in to mar and destroy, in the midst of so many milestones and celebrations, no less. Instead, Patrick faced cancer with his near-usual drive and enthusiasm that always served him so well in cheer and academics. “Cancer,” he says, “has taught me that contentment is essential to happiness.” Patrick focused on people’s generosity and caring attention on him in his time of need. Even as he continues to undergo treatment, Patrick is attending school and hopes to eventually design hospital software or research cancer in order to help and bring hope to others victimized by cancer.