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A Success Story - Amanda Later

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Amanda Later 

Amanda is attending The Art Institute of Portland in Portland, Oregon, majoring in Animation.  Amanda's battle with cancer has helped her discover a passion for animation, as well as the importance of relationships.   She has survived Ewing's Sarcoma.  In her own words:

ďIt is amazing how easily people lose sight of the small things in life that matter, and it is not everyday that people have this lesson taught to them by a 21 year old.  Cancer has changed my perspective on living more than I could have ever imagined.

'Do not go gentile into that good night' is a quote by the poet Dylan Thomas that in the last year has formed a special place in my mind.  To me it means make your life worth something, and make people know who you are by what you do.  After struggling for two years in deciding what 'I wanted to be when I grow up' I had finally decided animation is what I truly have a passion for.  I was very excited and had a newfound sense of motivation.  I had just finished all of my general education courses and was looking forward to start participating in classes that I really loved.

It was around this time that I was diagnosed with cancer in my bone.  I was devastated.  All of the momentum that had built up hit a brick wall.  I was only 20 years old, and thought that I was invincible.  For the last year I have been doing a very harsh regiment of chemotherapy and had surgery that has left me unable to walk for the next two years.  I had half of my tibia replaced with a cadaver bone and my knee replaced with titanium.  I have 4 more surgeries to look forward to spread out over my lifetime to replace my titanium knee.  To know that someone out there has lost his or her life and still given me a bone leaves me with an indescribable feeling of gratitude.

When I think of my battle with cancer I do not look at it with the perspective of how much I lost, but instead of how much I have gained, because the list is never ending.  I have gained a new perspective with the relationships I have and new relationships that will last a lifetime.  I have gained the love of a community of people, and I have gained experiences that have changed my life forever.  I now know what I am capable of, and am now ready to face the world and show it what I can do.

I have always been a good student, but recently all of my educational plans have been put on hold.  I have been taking online classes to keep my mind busy, and have done fairly well in them in light of the circumstances.  I am now ready to return to the classroom and actively be a student.  I have a fresh new outlook on life and vigor for education.  I am ready to sink my mind into the world of animation and learn as much as I can.  It is the small things in life that we need to learn to love and appreciate, like the feeling of a shower (which I didnít get to experience for a year) or being able walk around, or even bend my leg.  I have been given the gift of life, again, and each and everyday that I wake up I appreciate everything that I have, because I know someone somewhere out there like me, wishes they could have something they donít, or have something back they once had.

I volunteered at the Star of Hope, which is a women's shelter, in Houston, Texas, by cleaning the living quarters and helping with children's activities.  I have helped deliver meals with Meals on Wheels.  I have helped with crafts and games at an elderly living facility in The Woodlands, Texas.  I also plan to volunteer at local hospitals in order to give back a little piece of what I was given. 

I hope that my story and experiences can lift the spirits or help the emotions of someone else battling to save their life.  I am forever thankful to the people who dedicate their lives to fight this disease and make the life better for so many people.  I plan to leave a lasting impact on this world by not only the person I am but the art and talent I have to share with others.  

The help I am receiving from Cancer Survivors' Fund has allowed me to follow my dreams and repair my life.  It's encouraging to know that people are out there that care about my future.  The weekly emails I receive are very uplifting and help inspire me to keep going.  Thank you Cancer Survivors' Fund for all your support and encouragement.Ē

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