Survivor Spotlight: Rachael Gottes

“#noregrets.” We have all seen this mantra of the modern adventurer. At the height of its popularity, it was often accompanied by a photo of a college experience that, while perhaps not regrettable, seemed truly forgettable (unless you get a tattoo and misspell your life motto, then you have an unforgettably regrettable memento for the rest of your life). Living with no regrets is actually a great goal, but accomplishing it requires so much more forethought and courage than simply hashtagging the phrase and posting it on social media. Doing so necessitates mentally reaching into the future to determine what you will still deem valuable in five, 10, and 30 years AND deciding to do whatever it takes to make that a reality today.

Rachael knows a little bit about that.


Actually, she knows a lot about that. As she will explain in a letter she recently sent us, Rachael Gottes (2014 Perpetual Scholar) is taking back the life cancer tried to steal from her and building it up to be one full of incredible experiences, memories, and potential. Reading her update, your unfulfilled dreams — aka regrets — may bubble up in your mind and make you feel like it is too late to be like Rachael. Well, it is never too late! Choosing to live abroad, mend that relationship, start that company, or change someone’s life takes a simple, resolute “yes.” Check out Rachael’s story below, and you will know exactly what I mean.


12473991_1134430626567754_4530586348736467465_oI am Rachael Gottes, 2014 Perpetual Scholarship Winner. Wow! It’s hard to believe I’ve been at Duke University for two years now. In those two years my life has done a couple of somersaults and I have actually come full circle.  I started college with a desire to make my career in plant biology and environmental studies; and while I still am drawn to those fields of study, I have decided to seek a career working with children and families struggling with life-threatening illnesses. In examining my own experiences, I find that my life has been profoundly touched by a few individuals and organizations who truly helped me embrace that cancer is not who I am, but something that I have experienced. With much thought about my future beyond my years at Duke, I came to the decision that I want to be such a guiding force for others. As a rising junior, I have declared a sociology major and a perspective psychology minor.  I hope one day to become a therapist or counselor in this field.

During the past year I lived for a month in Barcelona, and visited both Amsterdam and Prague. I will study abroad the upcoming fall semester in Madrid enrolled in a Spanish university, where all 11703104_1041253699218781_7056283094588233122_nmy classes will be taught in Spanish (yikes!). I enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer with an ESL program at my university and tutor 1st and 2nd grade children and their parents in improving reading, writing, and math skills in both Spanish and English; and again work with youth facing life-threatening illness by hosting proms and helping to make wishes come true.

I am looking forward to another amazing year at Duke, where I have made amazing friends and have found new confidence in myself and my abilities. My medical horizons remain bright – I was assigned a clean bill of health following my latest oncology visit. Even more, I’ve learned to focus my attention of the good things that resulted from my run-in with cancer – like my association with Cancer for College. I am profoundly grateful for your generosity and belief in me. None of this would have been possible had it not been for the support of your organization. Thank you.

12140103_1094322987245185_5147200462779166238_oAs I prepare for my semester abroad, I go forward with an enthusiasm for what lies ahead and exhilaration for the bounty of life. I want to experience new cultures, new people and new challenges in the year ahead.  A year ago I could not have predicted who or where I would be today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

I cannot thank you enough for believing in me with your generous financial support.

Fondly,

Rachael Gottes

 

Throughout its 23 years of existence, Cancer for College has made it possible for cancer survivors to choose to live without regrets and strive toward the future they always dreamed, and we have done so 1,081 times (and counting)! Every Cancer for College scholarship changes multiple lives, helping entire families feel hopeful again and touching those in need through the outreach of our selfless recipients. You can be part of helping a cancer survivor thrive again, by donating to people like Rachael today.


 

Pro Pic - CircleAbout the author: Mitch Friesen is a childhood cancer survivor, CFC scholarship recipient (2011-2014), and now works for Cancer for College as their Director of Growth & Community. Mitch graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in Business Management and minor in Theology. A lifelong learner and lover of adventure, when Mitch is not catching up with all of the awesome CFC recipients, he can be found enjoying the outdoors with his bombshell of a wife (Abbey), watching/playing soccer, and drinking coffee.

Survivor Spotlight: Patrick O’Connor

O'Connor, Patrick [cropped]

Pacific Northwest perpetual scholar Patrick O’Connor (2015) thought he knew exactly what he loved when he entered college, and then life showed him a twist in the road. We have all experienced this (and if you say otherwise, your twist is right around the corner) and sudden changes often cause us to stop in our tracks and stress ourselves silly. Not so for Patrick, though! Uncharted territory is actually the exciting direction to which Patrick has shifted his focus.

As always, we love making cancer survivors’ dreams come true, and it is amazing when even our scholars are surprised when they discover what they are meant to do. College is an amazing time and place to encourage such enlightenment, and Patrick recently shared a life update with us in which he shares exciting news about just how influential his Cancer for College scholarship has been in the past year. Soak in the knowledge below, and learn from Patrick how you can respond to change and launch yourself into an exciting and fulfilling life.

This past year has been a crazy and exciting time in my life. I moved to Seattle back in September and love every moment of it! I’ve gotten the chance to eat at cool hole-in-the-wall restaurants, go to large festivals and events like Bumbershoot and a Seahawks game, and create a closely knit circles of amazing friends.

After living in Seattle for a bit and taking a geology class, I became drawn to the beauty of nature. I’ve started hiking around the Puget Sound, canoeing around Union Bay, and hammocking at Greenlake. I enjoy it so much that I decided to change my major from computer science to earth and space science with a focus in physics. I am thrilled to start taking more classes in my major and explore the opportunities available in my field.

Health wise, I only have a little more than a year left until I finish chemotherapy! While I did have some issues earlier this spring that slowed me down, I feel strong and healthy from working out and eating well. Since March, I have started to grow out my hair with the intention to donate it to others with cancer once my mane is long enough. I even got my port removed about a month ago in preparation for my travel plans in late August, which leads me to my next escapade: going to Costa Rica! A handful of my housemates and I are backpacking around Costa Rica for about a month. We will spend most of our time volunteering at a sea turtle conservation collecting data at beaches, maintaining the hatcheries, and making sure the little hatchlings make it safely to the ocean. I can’t wait to venture out into the biological beauty of a place so tropical and diverse.

Thank you very much for the scholarship, none of this would be possible without your hard work and dedication! I look forward to another year of late night studying, intellectual conversations, and, of course, spontaneous shenanigans.

There is nothing better than testing newfound waters by cannon-balling right into the deep end. We are so excited to hear how well you are doing, Patrick, and cannot wait to see what you discover in Costa Rica and throughout the upcoming school year!

To find out how you can help more cancer survivors like Patrick discover and fulfill their dreams, please visit cancerforcollege.org


 

Pro Pic - CircleAbout the author: Mitch Friesen is a childhood cancer survivor, CFC scholarship recipient (2011-2014), and now works for Cancer for College as their Director of Growth & Community. Mitch graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a degree in Business Management and minor in Theology. A lifelong learner and lover of adventure, when Mitch is not catching up with all of the awesome CFC recipients, he can be found enjoying the outdoors with his bombshell of a wife (Abbey), watching/playing soccer, and drinking coffee.