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A Success Story - Briten Douglas

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Briten Douglas 

Briten is a junior at the University of California Santa Barbara, majoring in Sociology.  Her experience with cancer has encouraged her to pursue a career in the anesthesiology field to help take patients' pain away.  Her extensive volunteer resume should be an example and motivation for all of us!  She has survived Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL).  In her own words:

" 'Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, and that's why we call it a Present!'

Leg shots, spinal taps, blood draws, chemotherapy and going bald are only a few of the many memories that I reflect upon when I think of my three-year protocol because of being diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  After the morning of March 10, 1991, my world had drastically changed for the rest of my life.  To further explain my medical story I will begin with  including that I was born with Bladder Extrophy.  I was born with my bladder outside of my body and the doctors were uncertain whether I was going to be able to survive, and if I did that I most likely would not be able to walk.  I had to undergo many reconstructive surgeries at birth, and they continued all the way until I was four years of age.  The doctors had decided that when I was four that my body was ready for the 'big' surgery - a bladder augmentation.  Since my bladder was man-made it did not grow with me; therefore, they had to reconstruct it.  Unexpectedly, the night before my surgery I had an acute abdominal attack where the doctors then diagnosed me with Leukemia; 69% of my blood was cancer.  My bladder augmentation had to be rescheduled due to my 3 year protocol. 

These three years of my life were the worst years of my life as they were the best!  Despite endless nights of throwing up and tears, I met so many amazing people that helped me to get better.  This cancer experience exposed me to a world that was filled with caring and compassionate people and organizations.  As I continued to watch several of my roommates pass away because of cancer, I knew that I too could die.  With this reality of losing my life at such a young age, it has made me appreciate each and everyday that I am alive.  It is through the struggle of cancer that I have learned the gift of life.  Even though my cancer experience was scary and painful and something that I would never want to experience ever again, I feel as though I am blessed with a certain appreciation of life and people that others will never have.  I have a drive and motivation to accomplish anything and everything that I desire. 

I have become a dancer, singer, an actress in community theater, high school varsity cheer captain, high school tennis MVP and most inspirational, high school water-polo player, swimmer and a college cheerleader.  Along with cheering, I am currently involved with the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority here on campus.  I have made the most of my life ever since I have had the chance to enjoy it outside of the hospital setting. 

I feel that my cancer experience has had such a positive impact on my life.  Of course I have had awful experiences of being alienated at school and viewed as someone who was contagious and sick, but these downfalls have made me strong, courageous and proud.  Every time someone made an ignorant comment towards me having cancer, I would look at it as an opportunity to share with them what I was going through and enlighten them about the situation.  Furthermore, it is through this experience that I have been so fortunate to give hope to other cancer patients who may not be so optimistic on life.  I feel very lucky to have survived cancer, and I take every opportunity I can to help others live their lives to their fullest potential. 

Now I would like to touch on something that is quite ironic about my dreams and future career goals.  Every time I would meet a new nurse, or someone would learn about my medical history, they would ask me 'So I bet you want to be a doctor when you grow up donít you?'  and I would immediately respond back with 'NO WAY! I canít wait to get away from all of this.'  I actually wanted to be a famous actress.  When I wasnít in the hospital, I would participate in the community plays as well as dance at the local dancing school.  It wasnít until high school that I developed an interest in becoming an anesthesiologist.  How ironic?!   It is because of all of the help that I received at the hospital that I have realized I want to give back and work there.  Since I still have to continue to have surgeries to this day, I take every opportunity to interview and analyze the anesthesiology profession. 

My specific purpose for wanting to be an anesthesiologist is so that I can help take peopleís pain away.  Since I know what it's like to go through tremendous amounts of pain, I know that I could empathize with my patients and possibly develop new ways of pain management.  I am also interested in becoming a nurse anesthetist.  That is also another goal of mine.  Nonetheless, I know that my calling is to help people who are going through similar experiences as I as well as others.  I know that it is because of my cancer experience as well as my other medical experiences that it has impacted my life in such a way that it has re-directed me onto a new career goal path.  It has truly helped shape my character and expose me to a world of knowledge and experience that I could not receive otherwise.  Due to recurring complications from all of my health compromises, I still rely on the newest medical developments to help me.  All of these medical issues impose such a financial burden on me and my family which makes it a huge struggle to put me through college.  Your financial assistance would be of great help to me and my future.   I thank you in advance for taking the time to read my story.

I volunteer by serving in many different capacities.  Here are some examples:  American Cancer Society as a spokesperson, program director for Camp Reach 4 The Sky Day Camp, resident camp counselor in training, Relay for Life emcee and motivational speaker; Ronald McDonald House Charities representative, Golf Classic spokesperson and volunteer; Make-A-Wish Foundation spokesperson, Golden Hanger's Fashion Show Volunteer model; 'For Pete's Sake Foundation' Memorial Marlin Fishing Tournament inspirational speaker; The Leukemia Society's Team 'N Training honored teammate, spokesperson, Pasta 4 Pennies spokesperson, Rock N Roll Marathon motivational speaker and volunteer; The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America's Young Woman of the Year; Light the Night Leukemia Walk motivational speaker and emcee; San Diego Children's Hospital motivational speaker and volunteer; Multiple Sclerosis Foundation volunteer; Breast Cancer walk captain; Sanofi Synthelabo chemotherapy drug representative; Best Buddies Club volunteer; 4 Paws for a Cure Dog Walk motivational speaker and volunteer; Joe Lizura's Golf Classic for Children's Hospital motivational speaker; Poway's Women's Auxiliary for Children's Hospital motivational speaker; Escondido's Women's Auxiliary for Children's Hospital motivational speaker; Escondido Tennis Classic volunteer; Japanese Friendship Garden spokesperson (1,000 well wishes to kids with cancer - Sadoka's 1,000 cranes).          

I am forever grateful for this scholarship and the opportunities that it will help provide me with.  I would like to give a big warm hug and thank you to everyone who has helped make this scholarship possible and for all of their hard work in this foundation.  I am very blessed for this gift and will use it to further my education to help me touch someone elseís life in a way that could have never been achieved otherwise.  Thank you, Cancer Survivors' Fund!Ē

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