Every person on this planet has been touched by cancer in some form or fashion. My time came in 2003 when my good friend, Holland, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s Disease). Holland and I went to college together and became good friends towards the end of our time in school.
Several months following his diagnosis, there were emails circulating with friends saying, “He is a fighter, no need to worry,” and “Holland is young and strong. He will beat this.” If I had truly known how serious and real cancer was at the time, his passing would not have blindsided me the way it did.
The next experience was in 2006 when my boss and mentor, K.S. Moon, was diagnosed with lung cancer. That year has been ingrained in my mind. Watching a man deteriorate in such a short period of time changes you. You cannot help but come to terms with your own mortality when you realize how vulnerable we all really are to cancer.
Even after enduring this, I kept the mentality that cancer was just something that happened to unfortunate people, and the world moves on. I was oblivious to all the emotional distress and pain that both the individuals and families had to endure during the entire process.
In 2010, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the feeling finally hit home. For the past 10 years, it was as though the beating of the cancer drum was getting louder and louder until finally it had arrived at my doorstep. My family was in utter shock. My mother is the healthiest person I know. She has always eaten healthy, never smokes or drinks. How could she have gotten cancer? Fortunately, she was able to fully recover and is doing quite well these days…but it can always come back.
There have been 3 people in my life that I have known with cancer, and only one is still living. Although I never thought of doing anything proactive to address my fears and concerns, my experiences have helped me realize the importance of cancer research and education. When I heard about Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s Young Ambassador program and its mission, I realized that this is how I can help fight a vicious, untimely and unbiased disease. I am excited to be a part of this organization and look forward to contributing my time and efforts. I hope you will join me in this fight by making a financial contribution.