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A Success Story - Spencer Ludwig

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Spencer Ludwig 

Spencer graduated from the University of Minnesota -Duluth in 2011, majoring in Business Management.  Spencer's experience with cancer has shown him the value of his faith, courage, respect, love and family.   He is an Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) survivor.  In his own words:

Before I was ever diagnosed with Leukemia, I flew through life without the least bit of worries.  I was mature for my age, or so I thought I was, compared to the other kids in my grade.  I look back at where that maturity level was compared to after I had conquered Leukemia and I realize that I could not have reached the maturity level I currently have at age 18 than I could have during my whole life.  I took life for granted in almost every aspect in life.  The grass was always greener on the other side no matter what I was doing.  Then one day I was diagnosed with cancer and it CHANGED my life.

I never thought I would ever say this but I am glad that I had cancer.  It has taught me to love life, not to take things for granted, not to worry about little things in life because there is so much more troubles out there in the real world that all worrying is good for is a waste of time.  Some of the little things that I appreciate are being able to eat food, being able to walk out in the sun without having a reaction, giving respect to nurses, being able to go to the bathroom, walking versus a wheelchair, being able to think straight without being so drugged up on medication, to have sympathy for those who have diabetes, and there is so much more. 

I hear of those ads on TV when those diet specialists speak of their loss of 20 pounds as life changing.  That is so fake and unrealistic.  I can't believe it, that is what I mean; people get so caught up in the small pictures of life because that is all that they know of.  When I get older and graduate from college, I will inspire others and help them by teaching of the true meanings of life.  I have already helped many people in taking a step back and looking at the big picture of life through the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord is the one who helped me to overcome cancer and the one who gave me a second shot at life.  He opened my eyes to the world around me. 

Some important values that I have come to love are Courage, Respect, Love, and Family.  Courage is so much more than trying to tackle the biggest player on the football team.  It is taking a step towards success when no one believes you will succeed.  It is conquering the obstacles that seem impossible to the eye of those who do not see.  I have a saying that I used often during my trials in the hospital, it is 'I face no obstacles, the obstacles face me.' 

Respect is something that I did not know the meaning of until a couple years ago.  I know what it is like to be in a wheelchair being told you probably won't make it out, I know what its like to have to give yourself an insulin shot before every meal, I have lived in a hospital for more than two years and through most of the ordeal being told that I had a 50-50 chance to make it out alive.  Having gone through all those trials and tribulations I have mercy and sympathy and a great deal of respect for the ones who have handicaps like that for life.  But most of all, it is a realization that the ones sitting in the wheelchairs, the people poking and prodding themselves every day, those who are told they can't but do, are stronger than most of the 'healthy' people that I know.  It takes strength, faith, courage, and a lot of perseverance to be able to wake up with a handicap every day and put a smile on plus a lot more.  Those are the true 'Heroes' in our society. 

For one of my most important values love, requires a lot more than just giving.  I have always loved with my whole heart since I was a little boy, but it was not until after I got sick that I actually learned to love my enemies.  My parents got divorced a few months before I was diagnosed with Leukemia and up until that point, that was the hardest thing I ever had to face.  But through my sickness I came just moments away from death a couple times and there is no use to hold grudges on anyone especially the ones whom you love most. 

For my career goals, I now want to be able to help others more than I want to play football or baseball, which I thought would never change.  I plan on working in a Fortune 500 Company and working my way to the top of the corporate ladder.  I want to improve myself through the opportunities and the challenges that await me so that I can teach others of what I have learned and how they can achieve success.  It is so important in life that a person works like he doesn't need the money, dance like nobody is watching, and love like you have never been hurt.  God has given us life and from what I have seen, man and woman haven't made the best of choices with their free wills.  I too feel that I would have wound up in that same boat if it were not for cancer.  I am not saying that mankind is perfect, but with all the great things in this world that we are offered, we always seem to want more until something bigger than ourselves comes up along the side and slaps us in the face, telling us to enjoy the awesome things in this life that we have:  family, friends, co-workers and even our enemies.  Because everyone can learn at least something from the ones who they despise.  Cancer, along with the many other complications I have experienced, taught me this.

I perform volunteer work by helping coach a Little League team, playing the drums for my church praise team, being an usher for high school and community plays, helping raise money for Dollars for Scholars.  I was also a co-coordinator for the American Red Cross Blood Drive and am a counselor-in-training at Camp Jornada, which provides free camp programs for children faced with cancer and has a year-round support network for these children and their families.

I really appreciate that there is an organization like Cancer Survivors' Fund that recognizes that there are so many young people who have struggled with cancer and need a helping hand.  CSF is making a name for all of us survivors.  The recognition and the realization that there are others going through the same exact things, so we can support each other and stick together, is priceless.  CSF, you are more than just a check - you are real, you are amazing!  This is just great!  I love it! Thank you, Cancer Survivors' Fund!

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