My experiences with cancer have impacted my life in several ways, forever changing my outlook on life and the opportunities I plan to pursue. When I was first diagnosed with Leukemia I was eleven. I knew my life would be altered temporarily, but was young and believed life world return to normal after treatment. After relapsing from my Leukemia in my central nervous system two and a half years ago, I understood life for me would never be the same.

At one point in my life I was resentful for all that cancer had taken from me and caused me to miss out on. Now I am thankful for the lessons cancer has taught me. Cancer has opened my eyes to what really matters most in life, causing me to rethink my priorities and goals.

Now I know that life does not always give you second chances and I must be diligent in trying to attain my goals.

Because of a few dedicated teachers that would not allow me to give up on my dreams of attending college or I plan on becoming a teacher myself. I plan to use the generous donation from the Nicki Leach Foundation to pay for college expenses and hopefully one day I can be a teacher that makes a difference in one of my student’s lives. I already am a volunteer for Project Mentor/College For Every Student where I serve as a mentor for disadvantaged youths.

Batting Leukemia for seven years has taken its toll, but it has given me a voice. I have been a spokesperson for the Leukemia Society for the last two years, speaking at public schools and other venues educating my peers and encouraging them to join the fight against cancer. Last year I started a young adult cancer support group at my hospital and try to give back to the cancer community as best I can. Lance Armstrong was quoted as saying “The truth is, if you asked me to chose between winning the Tour de France and cancer, I would chose cancer. Odd as it sounds, I would rather have the title of cancer survivor than winner of the Tour, because of what it has done for me as a human being, a man, a husband, a son, and a father.” While I cannot honestly say I would ever choose to have had cancer, I will never regret having Leukemia and the journey it has taken me on.

Hunter Durfee