This wasn’t supposed to happen. But it did. Cancer. Stage 3 Germ Cell Tumor. The size of a cantaloupe, sitting on my heart pressing in my right lung. I would have to go through chemotherapy and open chest surgery. I was 14 years old and this was supposed to be the best summer ever. Baseball, golf camp, and hanging out with friends. But it didn’t go that way. No hair anywhere, just gone. Skin color gray, thirty five pounds vanished.

A weird journey, it was like a dream, but it wasn’t. It was real. Real pain, real emotions. Had to get out. Each day was the same: go to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, check in, get hooked up, go to sleep, wake up, puke, and go back to sleep, then puke some more.

I couldn’t eat. It was a repeat every day. I couldn’t eat for one whole week. The week after would come. Stock up on food so I wouldn’t feel hungry. It was the same, day in and day out for 6 months. How would I cope? Two words: Teen Impact. Teen Impact is a support group for teens with cancer. I felt normal when I was with the other teens in the group. No one was staring at me any differently.

I still don’t know everything about what my journey through cancer means, how it has affected me, and how I have changed. But this much I’ve learned: I’m a fighter and I’m a Survivor. Having cancer has made me who I am today. I can’t imagine that I would have ever gotten into volunteering before having cancer, but now I volunteer for many different cancer organizations. I volunteer to help raise money for this great cause. I want to help cure this horrible disease.

I plan use the scholarship funds to go to college, and get my BA or BM in musical performance for the trumpet. I hope that after college that I can play in the Philharmonic or play trumpet in a brass and jazz band.

I would like to thank The Nicki Leach Foundation for giving me this generous scholarship. I am honored to receive it and I hope I make The Nicki Leach Foundation proud.

Dylan Crane