The Story of My Life

by Hilary Morrow
(Arlington, TX)

age 20

age 20

Life Story College Scholarship Essay Sample - Overcoming Personal Challenges - My story starts when I was twelve. On November 12, 2004 I underwent a craniotomy to remove the golf-ball sized brain tumor squashing my pituitary gland and pushing on my optic nerves. The days leading up to this surgery, my legs and fingers were going numb, I started going blind in my left eye, and I became violently sick from migraines. After this surgery, the doctors discovered that I had scoliosis. Next came the steroid-induced diabetes and insulin injections.

A few months later, after a follow-up MRI of my brain, the doctors discovered the tumor had grown back. June hosted the second craniotomy. Then my family and I flew to Virginia to receive Gamma Knife Radiation to completely obliterate what was left of the tumor.

After severe depression and an 80-pound weight gain, things simmered down. I was thirteen. I enrolled in a temporary program called Home Bound, where a teacher would come to my house and teach me what the other kids were learning in school. I maintained straight A’s and published a cookbook, From MRI’s to Lemon Pies. I felt terribly guilty for the financial setback my treatments were causing my parents. I knew that I had absolutely no control over what happened to me. But still, I felt so very guilty.

A few years passed, and I graduated high school a year early. I started college and began to experience the numbness in my legs again. I was terrified that the tumor had returned, so I was instructed to partake in yet another MRI to determine what the problem was. No tumor, just white matter. I was 19 at this point, having endured close to 50 MRIs already.
May 19, 2011 was the day I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. My initial reaction was, “Jeez! Something else?!” but it quickly morphed into, “Okay, God, use me; I can do this. I’ve had worse. Bring it on.”

The home health nurse came to teach me how to do the Copaxone injections, which were excruciatingly painful.

I continue to experience small relapses. Some days, I am so fatigued I can’t even get out of bed. I have to say no to friends’ requests to go out because I know my energy won’t last. In December 2011, I started feeling my left hand go numb again. I didn’t think much of it until it started spreading. I called my neurologist and she fervently suggested I start a three-day steroid IV infusion. When I got home (San Antonio) from school (Arlington), we set up a time for a new home health nurse to come out and begin the infusion. I now take Beta Seron, and have tolerated it fairly well, minus the flu-like days when I titrate up to the next dose. I am still not up to the full does; I have to take it slow due to my obvious sensitivity to the drug.

The IV infusion didn’t change anything about the numbness sensation covering the left side of my body. I was quite disappointed. This occurrence, as well as every time the home health nurse visits me in Arlington, the monthly bill for the daily injected drug, doctor visits, MRIs, and the cost of all the 13 other oral medications I take add up quickly until I realize I have very little left for groceries or other bills that must be paid.

I am already in a great deal of student debt, and I am only just going to start my senior year this fall. I intend to go to graduate school, but am seriously considering not even applying because of the amount of debt that has already accrued. My family isn’t rich, and I don’t want to spend my whole life paying off student loans because my
medical bills took precedent. I am by no means saying I should put my education over my health, and if I can’t afford both, school is the obvious cut. Please help me pay for my education.

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Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Hilary for sharing your very moving personal life story – The Story of My Life about overcoming personal challenges. We appreciate you allowing us to include it in our collection of college scholarship essay samples. Good luck to you in college and with your personal challenges.

I Am A Survivor

Rosemary, Fort Worth, TX, USA

Sample College Admission Essay – Overcoming Personal Challenges.

“You have cancer.” From the moment those words left my oncologist’s mouth, I knew my life would change. I didn’t know how to feel; how to react; what to do. Most importantly, I didn’t know what was going to happen next. My first instinct was to look to my mother, who was sitting next to me. I will never forget the way she looked. Pale as though she had seen a ghost, my mother showed no signs of life. She sat there, numb and shocked. My only indication that she was alive and present was the tears falling from her face. That was the first time I had ever seen her cry.

In March 2008, I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. That day, everything changed not only for me, but for my family. For the next couple of days, I was numb. I felt as though my self-conscious had slipped into a black hole and was now looking for a way out. I was lost in a sea of emotion and uncertainty. The phrase “emotional rollercoaster” does not come anywhere close to describing the immense amount of hysteria I was experiencing. I felt like a ticking bomb waiting to explode. Unfortunately, no one knew that I was going through so much trouble.

I have never been very open about my emotions and so when I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t tell anyone. My parents were the same and did not tell anyone except for our immediate family because they felt like there was no need to worry the rest of the family. Their main reason for not telling everyone about my diagnosis was the fact that they felt that there was no need for others to know. It would only have complicated things. Eventually we did tell everyone but not until I was finished with my treatment.

The year that I dealt with cancer seemed endless, yet eventually in March 2009, I was officially cleared of cancer and titled as 'in remission'. I was not fully done with the process of frequent checkups and even another surgery, making it a total of two femur bone reconstruction surgeries that I have endured, until 2010. Not many can state that they have overcome such an experience as mine and that is something that I am truly proud of.

Now that I am a cancer survivor, I can use my experiences to influence others. I am now able to educate those who may not know much about cancer and share my story with them. I hope to open the eyes of many to the reality of cancer and its impact on its victims. If I can make the treatment process for other cancer patients easier, then I will feel like I have used my gift of survival properly.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Rosemary for sharing your sample college admission essay about overcoming personal challenges. Your personal story as a cancer survivor is very powerful. Good luck in college and with helping other cancer victims and survivors.

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