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A Success Story - Elizabeth Underwood

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Lizzy Underwood 

Lizzy is attending Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina, majoring in Math and minoring in Biology.  Due to Lizzy's experience with cancer, her ultimate career goal is to pursue a graduate degree as a medical dosimetrist so she can serve oncology patients.  She has survived Spinal Ependymoma Blastoma.  In her own words:

I was diagnosed with cancer when I was just 15 months old.  The doctors at Duke University gave me chemotherapy treatments, which eventually got rid of the disease.  I'm in remission now, but the cancer left me paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.

Having cancer, believe it or not, actually made me a stronger person mentally.  While it was working to make me physically weak, I became more and more determined to prove that I could fight it and win.  Overcoming such an enemy shows how determined one can be.  The fact that I was able to get rid of the cancer at such a young age has taught me never to give up.  Also, it has taught me how precious life is because something out of your control may try to take it away from you.  One learns to just make the best out of what you are given.  I might be in a wheelchair, but that has never stopped me from doing anything I put my mind to.  Rolling around the streets of New York City and climbing to the top of Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii were challenging tasks, but the end result was well worth the work.  I feel that those are much less intense, but still similar tasks to defeating cancer.  At times, one just wants to give up, but if one does, the end result, which would ideally be overcoming cancer, wouldn't be reached. 

I am very thankful for everything my doctors did for me.  It wasn't until I was older that I realized how much care was put into my chemotherapy treatments.  They did their job well, as I have been in remission for quite some time now.  Similarly, I would like to impact someone's life positively in that way.  This is why I have chosen to pursue a career in Dosimetry.  Dosimetry is a medical profession that deals with calculating the correct dosages for patients who are fighting cancerous tumors.  Dosimetry is a great choice of career for me because of the subjects it involves, which include mathematics and biology, as well as the impact it will have on peoples' lives.  It's almost as if I will be paying back the doctors who helped me over 16 years ago by helping other people with cancer and getting them to overcome it.  Even though being a dosimetrist will carry a lot of responsibility, I truly believe that I will be happy doing that job.

Cancer may have altered my day-to-day routines, but it hasn't determined my destiny.  I am the person I am today because of my childhood cancer, and that's why I am so accepting of it.  I like who I am, and wouldn't change it for anything.  Others who are diagnosed should always believe in themselves and their ability to defeat cancer.

I couldn't believe that out of all the deserving people who applied for this scholarship, that I was chosen as one of the recipients.  Thank you very much, Cancer Survivors' Fund, and I hope to help others overcome cancer by continuing my education.

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