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A Success Story - Amy Cole

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Amy Cole 

Amy graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma, with a degree in Psychology.  Although she was diagnosed less than a year ago, her heart has already been softened toward helping children in times of medical crises by pursuing a career as a Child Life Specialist.  She has survived Papillary Thyroid Cancer.  In her own words:

“As I celebrated my 18th birthday, my life was overflowing with promise and potential.  I was a healthy, intelligent, athletic, and popular high school senior.  I was concurrently enrolled in five high school and two college classes and was very active in serving my community.  Academically, I was at the top of my class.  I had recently been selected for the fourth year in a row as a candidate for homecoming queen, and I was on track to win the state high jump competition.  My life was filled with confidence and ambition. 

In early October, I visited my pediatrician, complaining of a sore throat.  The results from a routine biopsy were completely unexpected.  Less than two months after my 18th birthday, on November 1, 2006, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer.

On November 9, 2006, I underwent surgery to remove my thyroid and surrounding lymph nodes.  As I was wheeled into the operating room, I was overcome with fear.  I was then overwhelmed by my faith in God and the loving support of my family, and felt at peace.  As Eleanor Roosevelt beautifully stated, 'You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the things you think you cannot do.'

My body no longer produced the thyroid hormone, and I was overcome with exhaustion and required a great deal of sleep each day.  I missed classes, school and church activities, and high jump practice.  I lost weight and became too thin.  The surgical incision resulted in a long scar on my neck that has remained irritated, sensitive and red.  Most importantly, the surgery affected my ability to speak.  I am no longer able to raise my voice.

My experience with cancer has taught me that my family, friends, schoolwork, community service projects, plans and goals are not to be taken lightly, but to be appreciated in the most sincere way, for they are a precious gift handed to me daily.  The people and the experiences that provide meaning and value to my life are of more importance to me that I ever before understood.

The compassionate care of the nurses and doctors during these medical crises inspired my desire to embark upon a career in service to children and their families who are undergoing serious medical traumas.  Now, my greatest ambition is to serve others as a Child Life Specialist.  A Child Life Specialist is a professional who is trained to help children and their families understand and manage challenging life events and stressful healthcare experiences.  Child Life Specialists provide family services including counseling, support, interventions, and therapy in emergency rooms, hospitals and doctor's offices.

During college, I will eagerly volunteer for any work that I can do that will help other cancer patients and survivors.  As George Washington Carver, a great inspiration to mankind, once wrote, 'How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you will have been all of these.'

Cancer Survivors' Fund is thrilled to be able to help Amy realize her goals of serving cancer patients and survivors.

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