Introducing CFC’s Perpetual 2016 Pacific Northwest Scholarship Recipient, Mitchell Carbon

Ah summer time in the Pacific Northwest! These are the days we can finally throw away our disheveled rain boots, let our small Ombrophobic dogs out to potty in the lawn without so much as a whimper and best of all, award our newest batch of Cancer for College scholarship recipients!

Each year CFC is gifted with hundreds of exceptional applicants, who not only defeated cancer but further proved that with tenacity, hard work and belief in ones self, anything is possible. Which is why we are beyond honored to award, Mitchell Carbon, with this years Pacific Northwest perpetual scholarship! Not only does Mitchell exemplify these qualities to their fullest but he takes it one step further by passionately giving back to those around him. This quality is why Mitchell will be spending his time at Whitworth University studying Community Health, all in an effort to help others who are suffering in their time of need. Check out Mitchell’s Q&A with CFC below to learn more about this extraordinary young man and be sure to come meet him at our Annual “Taste to Educate” event in Seattle January 2017!

Q&A with our Pacific Northwest Perpetual Scholarship Recipient, Mitchell Carbon.

Mitchell Carbon

What is your health like now (if you are comfortable sharing)?

My health is only moving in the right direction. In some ways I am still recovering but as time goes on my mind, body, and spirit all heal.

What are you looking forward to most about college?
Most of all I’m looking forward to a fresh start with new people. I love all the people who were with me throughout my journey but it will be nice to start fresh at a school where no one knows my medical history.

How do you want to use your cancer experience to help others/give back?
I don’t know exactly how yet but I want to use my experience to help people in some way. Whatever that may be, I want to better the lives of people with my understanding and compassion of people who are suffering like those who helped me.

What is something about yourself that you want others to know?
I want others to know that I’m just a regular person who had an extraordinary opportunity (one most people don’t get in life) to prove to the world what I am made of. I am really just like everyone else

What do you like to do in your spare time — e.g. hobbies?
I really like to spend time doing things with my friends. Especially watching movies! Step Brothers and Harry Potter are some of my favorites!

Do you have any idea what you might want to study in college?
I was really inspired by the people who took care of me during my journey. So I am thinking about teaching or being a nurse. I hope I can make a difference in someone’s life like my nurses and teachers did for me.

Best part of summer so far? One thing you want to do before summer ends?
Honestly, the best part of my summer this year has been getting ready for college. It’s such an exciting time normally for kids, but for me it’s even more exciting because I thought I would never be here. It’s beyond amazing to think I have a life without cancer to look forward to. One thing I want to do before this summer is over is getting in shape!

Cancer Disguised as Blessings

We are fully engrossed in reading through and grading applications for next year’s scholarship recipients, and we are so amazed that this is considered part of our job! On this Flashback Friday, we wanted to share with you, our readers, the story of one of our amazing perpetual recipients: Kashannah “Kash” Manawis. Enjoy her great story of overcoming cancer and using it for good!

Celebrating Survivors

“In high school and all throughout my childhood, becoming a doctor was an aspiration I chose purely based on my interest in human physiology and biology. However, towards graduation, the battle against cancer became personal.”

In her own words:

Kash Manawis, college student, cancer survivor

Though it seems cliché, I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was very young. This career choice made the most sense to me, as I have loved human physiology ever since the fifth grade, when I volunteered to stay after school to make a diagram that my teacher would use to introduce my classmates to the respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive systems (I was very proud).

Additionally, service work and volunteering is a joy of mine, and I have always thought that service to others is important to a well-rounded life, because it teaches selflessness and love. During high school I continued to volunteer regularly…

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Safe Spring Break with Sunscreen

Everyone wishes they could work at the beach but do you really want to lug all of your books, files, and laptop out there? All you really want to do is be free from all of those burdens! Right around this time every year, millions of college students wrest their intense focus away from their studies just long enough to rejuvenate themselves for the final part of the year; we call this “Spring Break.”

It is often difficult for students to understand the value of letting go of their studies for even a short time. Collegians nowadays practically live in the library and sustain themselves on a steady diet of pressure, knowledge, and coffee so that they can realize their dream of working 60 hours a week in an office for the rest of their lives. It is up to us, their friends and family, to encourage them to experience the world beyond the confines of their campus during Spring Break this year. We owe it to them to ensure that all they carry with them to the beach in Mexico, Florida, California, or Hawaii is a fresh bottle of Will Ferrell’s Super Mega Sexy Hot Tan Sunscreen.

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Bring Will Ferrell on Spring Break and you will have a legendary time!

Caring for college students is as easy as providing them with the tools they need to survive in any situation, at any time. During Spring Break, this looks like:

  • taking away the textbooks they earnestly desire to pack in their suitcase
  • building up their confidence to make new friends outside of their study group. and
  • making sure that all of their time in the sun does not lead to skin cancer.

All of this is easily accomplished with a couple bottle of Will Ferrell’s own Sunscreen. It fills up space, is a great conversation starter, looks good with any swimsuit pattern and colors, and MOST IMPORTANTLY0 keeps your skin from looking like an overcooked Cheez-it!

It is more important than ever to get college students outside this Spring Break. The future of America — and the world as we know it — depends on these graduates to be refreshed, tan, and cancer free as they take us and our country to impossibly awesome heights!

Get the Spring Break Sunscreen Special: 2 bottles of Will Ferrell’s Super Mega Sexy Hot Tan Sunscreen for only $20! Order yours at http://www.cancerforcollege.org/store.html

Even Our Sunscreen
Promo ends April 8, so get your orders in quick!

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

 

Remembering Taylor Helland

Have you ever been through an impossible week? The kind of week where it seems like time itself has slowed just so that every moment feels elongated, almost painfully so. This was that kind of week because, for the second time in as many days, a mom just let us know that her child finished her fight with stage III colon cancer on February 20, 2016. Taylor Helland was nothing short of a bright light for the two years that we knew her as a recipient. But there is a silver lining to weeks that take forever: we have so much more time to focus on the eternal impact Taylor made on everyone she came in contact with.

In her own words:

“Cancer has come with lots of pain and stress, but even more so it has come with so many blessings and has made such a positive stamp on my life and personality. Facing this terrible disease has only encouraged me to fight it and help others fight it.”

It is not often that the most positive person in the room is the person in the midst of a 5-year battle with cancer, but with Taylor it was undeniable that she was overflowing with enough life for everyone to be filled up. “Choose joy” was her battle cry and her most infectious quality as her countless friends and family can attest. Wherever Taylor went, there was life because she chose to treat every day as an opportunity to give back and ensure that those around her left with more hope about their future; be they fellow cancer patients who needed cheering up, or Ed Sheeran himself. See for yourself in the slideshow below.

As I look back at the first time Cancer for College met Taylor, it was through her application, and the personal statement she wrote, which depicted the accomplishments and selflessness of someone twice her age. Just marvel at her attitude, remembering that she was in the middle of treatment as she wrote this:

“I met several young people on my journey who were also battling cancer. Some are still fighting, some have gone to heaven. I cannot put into words how much I want to help others fight. I want to raise awareness, raise money, and help others beat this terrible disease. My youth pastor was just diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and I am very hopeful that my story and experience might help him through his difficult journey…My ultimate goal in life is to make sure another 14 year old girl in the future does not have to go through what I have been through. That is why I am doing everything in my ability to promote cancer research and fight on!”

To be honest, Taylor lived more fully than most of us ever will by choosing to dedicate her life to helping others when it would be so understandable if she focused her energy on herself. From speaking to promote cancer awareness and research, leading multiple fundraisers that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for research, and getting fired up when she had the opportunity to make her surgeon’s dream of starting a pediatric colon cancer trial come true there was nothing Taylor would not do make sure other people the opportunity for the future she dreamed of.

Now is the time for mourning because Taylor’s time with us was cut far too short. Now is also the time for celebrating because we are blessed to have been touched by a vibrant soul, and are so much better for it. In 20 years, Taylor weaved a story reminiscent of the most loving and caring saints in history. And she graciously invited us along for the journey.

If you are one of the many people who was impacted positively by Taylor Helland, please feel free to share a memory with us. You will always be a part of our family, Taylor, and we are so thankful for the gift of getting to know you these past few years.

Taylor Helland

Easy Ways to Help the Charity You Love

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

“Nothing, not even cancer, is going to stop me.”

“My dream has always been to attend college,” wrote 19-year-old Maine resident Dalton Bouchles last year in his Cancer for College scholarship application. “However, once I found out I had cancer, that dream became blurry.”
At age 18, Dalton was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, a brain tumor which develops near the pituitary gland, at the base of the brain. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor but suffered many physical and cognitive impairments from the procedure.
“At this point in my life, I was unsure as to whether or not I would be able to attend college like I had originally planned,” Dalton continued.
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But Dalton would not be deterred, not even by something as ominous as brain cancer. Following is his story in his own words.
I worked very hard in high school to prepare myself for college. I maintained an A average, participated in many school activities such as Key Club: as a member, president, and Lieutenant Governor for my division. I was a member of Boys’ State, National Honor Society and a Student Representative for the MSAD #52 School Board during my senior year. For sports, I was a member of the golf team and enjoyed two years participating on the soccer team. I am very proud to be a 2012 graduate, ninth in my class at Leavitt Area High School.
In the Fall of 2012, just three weeks before I was due to head out to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for my first year of college, I was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, a craniopharyngioma. How the diagnosis came to be was through a routine eye exam, which showed swelling on my right optic nerve. An MRI the next day confirmed the eye doctor’s suspicions and revealed the tumor which attached itself to my pituitary gland. The surgeon gave me four days to get my things in order and then I was in the hospital having brain surgery to remove the large tumor from the center of my brain and save my life. Those four days between diagnosis and surgery were filled with shock and fear. I knew from this day forward that my next four academic years as well as my future life plans were about to change.

Surgery did not go as planned. Due to the tumor’s size and location it created surgical complications, resulting in a two month hospital stay. Each day held many challenges for me, which included occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy. While all of my friends went on to college and started the next chapter in their future, I have spent the last two years of my life in rehabilitation and recovery. Because of the type of tumor, its size and where in the brain it was located, the surgery has left me with substantial physical and neurological impairments. Most significant are my vision loss and cognitive challenges. I still have all my marbles, but I have to work harder to process and organize information. I lost over 80% of my vision and now I am visually impaired and partially sighted, which has left me unable to drive, limiting my mobility.

Due to the tumor and its effects, it has made Worcester Polytechnic Institute no longer a viable option. The cognitive impairments now limit my ability to attend school as a full-time student. I am now working on a degree two classes at a time, allowing me to reach my dream of going to college. Although the tumor has slowed my education, it will not stop it. Along the way, I have remained a very positive person and a hard worker.

I have always felt that education was a top priority in life. It opens up many doors and possible careers that would have not otherwise been available. I want to go to college, receive an education and walk through one of those doors myself. Nothing, not even cancer, is going to stop me. I pushed myself hard in therapy from day one in order to get as close as I can to where I was before surgery and get back on the college track. The tumor was a roadblock that I overcame and now I am where I am supposed to be, heading back to college.

Nothing, not even cancer, is going to stop me.

Dalton is currently attending Central Maine Community College and enrolled macroeconomics and critical thinking. We applaud your fighting spirit and determination, Dalton, and wish you the very best of luck in all that you do!

The Birth of a Charity

A Charity is Born

It’s always a good idea to stick to your word when you make a promise to God.

Perhaps you’ve been in a similar situation — finding yourself plea bargaining to a higher power.  Promising to do something, anything, in exchange for the request you are begging to be filled.  Maybe prayers for yourself.  Or desperate wishes for someone you love.  In this case, one college sophomore was pleading to God for his life.  In return, he vowed to make a difference.  Both parties held up their end of the deal.  And so it was that in 1988, Craig Pollard survived Hodgkin’s disease for the second time.  He was granted the opportunity to jump back into his life — an honor, he realized, not every cancer patient receives.  While finishing at the University of Southern California, Craig remembered his promise.  And after graduation, his vow to make a difference was realized through Cancer for College, the charity he launched in 1993 with the mission of providing hope and inspiration to cancer survivors through college scholarships.

It started small.  Just a little 24-person golf tournament, all participants family and friends, which raised $500 and was immediately awarded to our first recipient in a single $500 scholarship.  It was such a proud and positive milestone for everyone involved, and momentum for the cause grew instantly.  This year, Cancer for College marks its 20th anniversary, and in 2013 alone will award nearly $130,000 to 60 scholarship recipients.  To date, we have awarded close to $2 million in scholarships to 1,000 college students.

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Past recipients celebrate in Coronado, Ca. 2012

Growth Years: The Short Version

So much happens in the course of 20 years.  The golf tournament grew in size and scope every single year, and the dollars raised increased accordingly.  We felt amazed, grateful.  More fundraising dollars meant larger scholarships and  more recipients — fantastic! $500 scholarships became $1,000 and $2,500 scholarships.  In time, we added perpetual scholarships, in which select recipients received their scholarship once a year for four years.

In these exciting growth years for Cancer for College, something incredible was happening to a good college friend of ours.  In short, our friend Will from school morphed into Will Ferrell.  Wow are we proud of him!  And thankful, too, as he and his wife, Viveca Paulin, have supported our charity since just about the beginning.  Their loyal commitment of  time and talent really put Cancer for College on the map, providing national and even international exposure to our cause, attracting corporate sponsors, and essentially filling our fundraising events to capacity year after year.  Next week, on September 7, Will’s brainchild The Comedy Explosion will perform at the San Diego Civic Theater to a sold out crowd, with all proceeds benefiting Cancer for College.  For all of us here at the charity, we recognize just how far we’ve come, and we are grateful to all those who have faithfully supported along the way.

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CFC Founder Craig Pollard and Will Ferrell 

In 2006, Craig faced a new challenge.  What he thought was an ordinary cold quickly turned into a life-threatening bloodstream infection — battling cancer twice had left him with a compromised immune system.  He ultimately survived, but in another of life’s great compromises, the medication which saved his life essentially strangled his extremities.  Amputation of both feet was required (click here for more details on Craig’s story).  True to form, he turned something potentially devastating into a positive.   In the fall of that year, only six months after losing his feet, Craig golfed in his prosthetics and the foundation proudly gave its first scholarship to an amputee.

A Blog is Born

Creating a blog as part of our 20-year anniversary celebration seemed ideal, an outlet to spread positive energy and inspiration to those touched by cancer.  We titled it Celebrating Survivors, because that’s exactly what our applicants do, celebrate their survival.  We’ve found an incredible common thread among these young adults– gratitude — but not in the way you might think.  Most of them express how grateful they are, of course for surviving, but also for the experience itself.  Time and again, applicants say they would not change their cancer experience, because surviving it changed their lives completely, and for the better.

“With all the dreadful treatments that I went through, even today, I look back and continue to see this as a positive experience,” says Drake Baker, 2013 perpetual scholarship winner.  “Without it, I would never have learned and seen the things that have shaped a whole new perspective on life for me.  When everything seemed as if it was against me, I was still confident in my ability to overcome a huge obstacle in my life.”

Many applicants are compelled to switch their field of study mid-stream to join the cancer community on the other side, be it as a doctor, a nurse, or a social worker.  Some want to launch their own non-profit.  All want to pay it forward.  One of our scholarship winners from the early years is now a pediatric oncology nurse in the hospital in which she was treated as a toddler! What a blessing and comfort she must be to cancer kids and their families, who can look into their nurse’s healthy, radiant face and know she survived the trials they now face.

A Heartfelt Thank You

Whether you are new to Cancer for College or have followed us since the beginning, a heartfelt thank you from us all.  We feel blessed and grateful to do the work we do, and it can only be done with your continued support.  We hope you will follow our charity, both through our blog and through our website.  We hope you feel inspired and uplifted by what we share through Celebrating Survivors.  And for you and yours, we wish upon you days filled with health, happiness and gratitude, and that every single day our world is one day closer to eliminating cancer.  True cause for celebration.