On June 23, 2006 I found out that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That was two weeks after I graduated from high school. I had already planned on going away for college and was getting everything ready for that. Since I had cancer, my plans changed. I would no longer be able to go to school of any kind because I knew I would be to sick to get out of bed some days. Because I was turning 19 in August of that same year and wouldn’t be able to go to college our insurance company informed my parents that they would have to purchase a separate policy for me and still pay for the family plan they had. That added a tremendous financial hardship for them. NYS requires that at 19 you be in school full time or they won’t cover you on your family plan if you have cancer.

I went to Roswell Park Cancer Institute to receive my treatments. My parents drove me there and back because the treatments made me too sick to drive. When I got radiation treatments we had to go up everyday for three weeks. It is a 1.5 hour drive each way.

There were days that I just wanted to die because of the pain I was in and I would sometimes wonder why God would allow anyone to endure so much pain and hardship. I would pray everyday for strength spiritually, emotionally, and physically and He would comfort my heart. Even though I wanted to give up most days, I kept pushing myself and worked at turning this hardship into something positive.

I volunteered as an assistant coach for the soccer and basketball team at the high school I graduated from. Sometimes, I was too sick to go but the head coach was understanding of that. I would also occasionally teach at my youth group and share what had been happening in my life. There were nights I would cry myself to sleep asking God when the pain was going to end. It was not easy knowing that I could possibly die and not being able to do all the things that 19-year-old guys do, like jog or play sports. Everyday, I would tell myself to keep pressing on with my life and using this cancer for God’s glory.

Once chemo was over, I started radiation and that’s when things got worse. I lost 20 pounds and could not eat solid foods. I could barely even drink water because my throat hurt so badly. But, I still kept pushing forward knowing that I could beat the cancer. It was even harder trying to make it look like I was not suffering at all just so my little brother and sisters would not worry about me so much. Cancer was a big thing for me to endure and it affected many areas of my life. It showed me more about myself and also it showed me who my true friends were. It was not easy in any way, but if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing because it has made me a stronger and a better person. I am determined to work with youth and would like to become a youth pastor. I know that God will give me many opportunities to use my testimony to reach the kids that I will be working with over and over again.

I would use this scholarship to help pay for my college tuition expenses. Thank you for your time and I just wanted to let you know that Nicki’s story deeply touched my heart. God bless you.