Remembering Isabella Corcelli

There is no easy way to learn that cancer took another young life from this earth much too early. It is even more difficult to respond in any way that could actually make the situation better; there is no such thing as better when it comes to this. Today, we received news that one of our amazing recipients from 2013 and 2014, Isabella Corcelli, passed away from Synovial Sarcoma on February 19, 2016. The best we can do is remember the vigor with which Isabella lived, for in sharing those memories we give eternal purpose to every step she took. Be inspired by Isabella as you watch the video of her wish-fulfilling “dance with a star,” and then read her 2014 application essay, one of the most creative we have ever received. You will always be a part of our family, Isabella, and we are so thankful for the gift of getting to know you these past few years.

The following is reposted from January 30, 2014: “Last Call for Applicants 2014, and a Poetic (and Award’Winning!) Personal Statement

Last year during our scholarship selection process, I wrote down the name of a young lady who had submitted a very memorable personal statement in her application materials. I felt a connection to her and was hoping that, through the rigorous review process, she would emerge with a scholarship in the end.

The name I wrote down was Isabella Corcelli.  I loved the way her name rolled off my tongue. Isabella Corcelli, who was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma just three months before our scholarship application deadline. Isabella Corcelli, who was supposed to be enjoying her senior year of high school, but who was instead fighting a rare form of soft tissue cancer.  Isabella Corcelli who, despite her diagnosis, was determined to begin her freshman year of college in the fall as planned.

Isabella did receive a Cancer for College scholarship, and started school in the fall at the University of New Hampshire, pursuing a degree in Recreational Management and Policy.

With her blessing, we share her personal statement in its entirety. It’s both a touching piece of writing, shared from the heart of a young person facing a terrifying situation, and an excellent example of a unique and memorable personal statement.

Girls high school Lacrosse games
Varsity and junior varsity
Swing starter, love the action
Pain on my side
Must be scoring too many goals
Yes, I can handle that!

Spring drama production, stage manager responsibilities
Ballroom dance showcases and competitions
Junior prom, limo, nails and hair
Pain on my side near my ribs
Must be working too hard
As part time frozen yogurt girl
Yes, I can handle that!

Summer time beach days
Backyard fires with smores
Cartwheel competitions on the grass
With my two brothers and my two best friends
Oooh pain on my side, time to call the doctor
Yes, I can handle that!

Pediatrician visits
Blood work drawn, use my right arm please
Ultrasound tests
Let’s go for some MRIs
And certainly a CAT scan
Yes, I can handle that!

Referrals to thoracic surgeon
A tumor between my 7th and 8th rib
Could be Schwannoma, could be benign
We agree it shouldn’t be there
This should be a simple operation
Yes, I can handle that!

It’s the start of senior year
Honors classes, stage manager
Promoted to barista at work
And schedule a surgery on Halloween
A whopping six hours from start to finish
Yes, I can handle that!

Cool November football games
Research papers and senior project due
Pathology results unexpected
Synovial sarcoma tumor
Who ever heard of this rare 1% cancer?
Yes, I can handle that!

My new vocabulary words are
Hematologist, oncologist, surgical oncologist,
Chemotherapy, rib replacement
Reproduction endocrinology
Don’t forget fertility preservation
Yes, I can handle that!

Thanksgiving turkey, high school football game
Doctors moving fast, chemo drugs are harsh
Fertility is in question, need to freeze the eggs
Let’s start the hormonal self-injections
Mix up the Bravelle and Menapur
Yes, I can handle that!

More MRIs, more CAT scans, more blood work
My veins are feeling tight, my diet is neutropenia
Four rounds of chemo are planned for weeklong stay at the hospital
Ifosfamide, Doxorubicin, Mesna, Compazine, Zofran Sodium Chloride, Neulasta, blood transfusions, blood platelets

Yes, I can handle that!

As of this writing I have experienced several surgeries and procedures, with more expected in the near future. I have scheduled countless doctor appointments, completed two rounds of chemotherapy, received wonderful medical care, pampered by excellent doctors, nurses, CAN’s and of course my family. Ever since I was a young girl, I aspired to become a pediatrician. Having witnessed the medical community first hand, I truly appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to provide not good care, but excellent care. I have also been grateful for the doctors and nurses encouraging me to pursue my career. Their advice, inspiration and practical tips have been invaluable. Add to that my personal dedication of maintaining high grades, National Honor Society, volunteer hours, part-time job, lacrosse and ballroom dancing. As you can tell, the opportunity to attend and afford college would be an honor to receive. I cannot wait to be able to help a young child someday knowing full well that I too, was a patient once.

Yes, I can handle that!

Yes, Isabella, you handled all that and more, better than anyone could in your place. Thank you for reminding us to live fully no matter what. Our hearts go out to Isabella’s family and hope for peace and comfort for all her loved ones.

To find out how you can make a difference in the lives of young cancer survivors, please visit



3 thoughts on “Remembering Isabella Corcelli

  1. Pingback: Remembering Isabella Corcelli | Blog of craigylee

  2. Pingback: Writing through the week. | Prayers and Piazzas

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