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A Success Story - Roger Salas

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Rogelio Salas 

Rogelio "Roger" graduated from the Robert Morris College in Chicago, Illinois, in 2010 majoring in Medical Assisting.  Roger's experience with his disease detection and diagnosis has led him to pursue a career in Ultrasonography.  As a cancer survivor, Roger feels like an angel sent on a mission to do better in life.  He is a Testicular Cancer survivor.  In his own words:

There are many obstacles that I have had to face throughout my life. Cancer has been one of those obstacles and it has impacted my life, my values, and my career goals as well.  Cancer is a terminal disease that is virulent and sometimes incurable, but treatable, disease.  However, to me cancer was something else, something unique.  Unique, to me because I have learned from every single moment of this experience.  I remember it as if it had happened yesterday.  Even now, the words "you have cancer!" run through my mind.  I felt as if my life had been stopped.

Indeed, my life was at serious standstill.  This disease, of which I was not aware, obstructed everything that I loved to do.  For example, playing football is one of my most important hobbies.  Yet, I was not allowed to play football.  Of course, being a teenager I did not know how to feel, how to react, or what to expect.  I never thought that this would happen to me, but it did.  During this part of my life I went through some very difficult adversities.  This happened more so academically.  I was diagnosed with Metastatic Choriocarcinoma cancer during my junior year in high school.  In this same academic year the ACT testing took place for me.  Due to my diagnosis I was not able to take the ACT test.  Also, during my junior year I was a 2nd Lieutenant in the JROTC program.  I was forced to leave my schoolmates behind; I was addled. 

All the little pieces that I thought separated my family brought us closer to each other.  We appreciate each other to the fullest no matter what the obstacle that stands in front of us.  During the period that I was diagnosed with cancer my life as well as my family’s changed drastically.  I felt guilty for making my family worry about me.  I think they suffered more than me.  I always saw my family as being vulnerable, but they turned out to be brave individuals who always had a happy smile for me.  At this point in my life, I realized that what I was going through was real.  I just was not sure if I was ready for it or not.

My values were tampered with also.  For example, my morals were at it best.  Before I was diagnosed with cancer I was confident and was abundant with self-esteem.  My life values changed.  My peers did not see me as Rogelio any longer.  They saw me as the "kid with cancer."  I did not feel like a regular person.  I felt like people were treating me well out of sympathy.  I was not treated as a normal person would be treated.  More than anything I learned to value my life and nowadays, I take nothing for granted.  I learned to appreciate my family: I noticed that they were the only people who will always be there for me.  I have learned that you are an important individual.  Finding who you are and setting up your mind anything is possible.  Never giving up no matter if you have a terminal illness or a hard situation the main goal is to get through it all.

Lastly, my career goals have been impacted significantly by broadening my selection of the medical field in that I want to pursue, because of the experiences within me.  I have always wanted to have a career in which I would be able to help people with their medical situations.  For example, before I was diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to have a career in the medical field of being a nurse and now that am cured, I really know what I want to pursue.  I narrowed the field and I chose to be in the field of Ultrasonography.  The reason of why I chose this was because at this point that was the source of where my problem was detected and by doing this I want help to people by detecting the cause of their illness.

I have volunteered with the Junior Achievement Program, being a teacher for a day.  I taught first grade, and it was very challenging.  From this experience, I learned how to interact with young students, how to handle situations in the classroom, and how to prepare a lesson plan.

In conclusion, cancer changed me completely.  This "malignant disease" had an effect on my life, my values, and my career goals.  Cancer interrupted my life because I was forced to stop doing the things that I love.  I learned to value family, life, and education.  People need to have regular check ups in order to avoid everything I have explained in this essay.  I appreciate and enjoy my life more than I would have imagined.  By being a cancer survivor, I feel like an angel sent on a mission to do better in life.

Thank you so much, Cancer Survivors' Fund.  I am very excited about this opportunity for my education, especially after having to go through so much hardship with my cancer."

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