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A Success Story - Michael Elliott

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Michael Elliott      

Michael is attending the University of Richmond, in Richmond, Virginia, majoring in Business and Finance.  Michael's cancer experience has grown in him a burning desire to keep a positive outlook on life and to use his finance skills and career to help non-profits and research facilities involved in cancer research and support for young adults.  He has survived Telegiectatic Osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  In his own words:

“When I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  For two months, multiple doctors told me they were 99% sure I had a benign tumor or a bone infection, 'not to worry.'  Then, I heard the word, 'Cancer.'  My doctors told me that I would not return to school.  Immediately, I thought, 'I'm not finishing my senior year with my friends; my college baseball career is shattered.'  Through the next eight months, I spent over 100 days inpatient with chemotherapy treatments and limb salvage surgery.  My experiences while going through cancer treatments have led me to believe that I needed to stay positive, not to let the cancer decide how I will live my life, and to value the importance of family and friends. 

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was pretty upset.  I started feeling depressed and asked questions like, 'Why me?'  However, I eventually realized that feeling sorry for myself and carrying around a negative attitude was simply making my life worse.  As hard of a blow as the cancer diagnosis was, I found it important to keep a positive and upbeat attitude.  I now try to look for a positive in everything that happens in life.  There are many things that are out of my control, and I have realized getting upset or being negative when these events occur only pulls me down.  Being positive has helped me be at peace with my diagnosis and it will help me in the future. 

I also learned to never let cancer, or fear, dictate how I was going to live my life.  Doing things that I liked made me happy, and raised my self-esteem.  Cancer could be very isolating if I allowed it to gain control.  Although the cancer and treatments I received made my life more difficult, it was no reason to close myself off from the things I loved to do.  Closing myself off only leads to frustration and unhappiness.  I learned that getting out and living my life, staying positive, upbeat, and doing the things that I loved and wanted to do kept my spirits up. 

For instance, it would have been easy to say 'cancer robbed me of my senior year of baseball and my college playing opportunity.' Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I contacted my high school coach, and I was able to participate as an assistant coach helping out the team when I could.  This gave me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment as I was able to be of value to the team I had grown to love.  I have since been asked to help coach a summer recreational team.  I do not know yet what this will entail, but I am looking forward to this with eager anticipation, with dreams of what this can eventually lead to.  This will also help me continue my volunteer work I started as a counselor at sports and baseball camps.

Having cancer has opened my eyes to the importance of family and friends.  Before my diagnosis and treatment, I did not understand how important these relationships were to me.  I took for granted how lucky I was to have such a loving and supporting family as well as wonderful friends.  However, I could not have gone through my treatments without them.  Whenever I needed anything I knew I could lean on them to pick me up or help me out.  I have learned to become appreciative.  This was one of the main reasons I decided to stay close to home when I made my college decision. 

Prior to the cancer, I had selected a college that included the opportunity to play baseball and pursue a finance degree.  My diagnosis changed all of that in an instant!  Realizing that I would no longer be able to play competitive baseball at the college level, I re-evaluated my future.  Now that I am out of active treatment, I am still looking forward to obtaining a degree in finance as it has always been a passion of mine. 

I would like to make a difference in my ultimate career.  During my treatment, I came to understand that there is a real need for pediatric cancer research and support for adolescents and young adults facing cancer.  I hope to use my education and talents in the business and finance world to help non-profits and research facilities that serve young adults facing cancer.

It is very encouraging to know that Cancer Survivors' Fund will be a positive influence as I strive to reach my goals.  Thank you so much!”

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