When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I was 21 years old and beginning my senior year of college. I felt like I was expected to know all there was to know about cancer and where to turn to for support. However, the opposite was true. I felt lost and hopeless. I believed I needed to drop out of school, at least for the semester. My mom encouraged me to stay in school, do my best, and graduate in May. When she passed away, I wanted to make her proud, but I was unsure if I was physically, emotionally, and mentally capable of doing so.
In pursuit of assistance, I turned to my academic advisor. He made some suggestions of how I could graduate on track. Being a psychology and counseling professor, he also recommended I seek support. That is when I found the Cancer Support Community. The Cancer Support Community provides resources and support to not only cancer patients, but to the friends and family members of cancer patients as well. Through this organization, I was able to network with others who were sharing my experience. Receiving support from my family, friends, and community helped me cope. I was able to graduate magna cum laude in May 2015 and began graduate school shortly after.
When cancer happens, an entire community is impacted. All people will be affected by cancer to some extent, so it is important we “no one fights cancer alone.” A myriad of resources are available to patients and their families, yet many people do not know they exist or are ashamed to ask for help. I can attest firsthand to the benefits of receiving support. Furthermore, my message is relatable to any audience. All people go through adversity in life so it is vital to receive support during difficult times.
Here are some of my plans for my year of service as Miss Southern Lakes:
- Advocate for cancer support organizations including the Cancer Support Community, Gilda’s Club, and Imerman’s Angels
- Fundraise for cancer research through organizations such as the American Cancer Society
- Get the United States government to endorse July as Sarcoma Awareness Month by receiving 100,000 signatures on a petition which will be enacted later in the year
- Attend Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children who have a parent who has cancer or has passed away from cancer
- Highlight stories of cancer survivors as well as cancer caregivers, family, and friends on my blog
- Teach “support skills” to children, such as empathy and unconditional positive regard
I would love to share my story at schools and community organizations or events. My message can be adjusted depending on the audience. Please contact MissSouthernLakes2017@gmail.com for inquiries.