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


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.


1 thought on “Survivor Spotlight: Patrick O’Connor

  1. What a wonderful story! He is an amazing person with so much ahead of him. Makes the scholarship so much more important.

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