Mesothelioma Scholarship – Sirena is currently pursuing graduate studies at SUNY Empire after receiving her bachelor’s degree from the college in June 2017. She became the first member of her family to graduate from college. This feat proved to be more challenging than she expected as her personal life faced many traumatic events along the way.
As Sirena begins her college career, life continues to throw obstacles at her family. His partner lost his job shortly after starting his first semester at school, adding to the financial stress as many struggled to make sure the bills were covered. In addition to working full-time at the Department of Social Services as a case worker, she also took on a second job in addition to her motherly and school duties.
After 18 months of such stress, the family thought they were finally getting a break when her husband returned to work. But just a few months later, the family faced problems again, which would only increase as Sirena continued her education.
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In April 2015, Sirena and her family took a break when her husband returned to work. Unfortunately, the relief they felt was short-lived. “In October, [my partner] felt a lump in his breast that started out the size of a grape and grew to the size of a plum by the end of November,” Sirena explained in her essay.
His partner was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic breast cancer in men. Stage 3 cancer usually indicates that something has spread, which usually includes metastases to the lymph nodes. This is considered an advanced stage and, depending on the type of cancer, usually means that the patient has more limited treatment options. Her partner underwent a double mastectomy followed by intensive chemotherapy and radiation.
During these months of treatment, his wife was unable to work and the family faced financial difficulties for the treatment beyond the normal expenses. Sirena is dealing with the stress and anxiety of her partner’s cancer and financial instability in addition to a full-time job, childcare and going to school. Despite already having too much on her plate, she started working four nights a week at a night job at a domestic violence shelter. Sirena had to switch from working at night to working as a case worker and trying to keep up with her school work when she had time off for the night shift.
“I was always tired, angry and consumed by anxiety. My eyes tear from the constant stress. But I continued in the military, devoted to my duties,” said Sirena.
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Fortunately, the family’s fortunes began to look up when her partner discovered that she was in remission in August 2016. He could go back to work, Sirena had quit her second job and it looked like she might be on his end. years in college easier.
Unfortunately, as the family’s life begins to return to normal, more bad news awaits. Sirena’s partner learned that her cancer had returned more aggressively and spread to her lungs. She was diagnosed with stage 4 and was so weak she couldn’t even take a bath. Sirena became his caregiver and made his medical decisions in addition to all her normal duties, returning to her second job at night to cover their extra expenses.
In the midst of this health crisis, his son was also diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Fortunately, she was able to find group therapy that helped her improve her condition, but it was difficult to cope with the additional difficulty she already had to deal with. But in the face of all that, Sirena started her last year of college in January and gave everything she had to her education.
“I committed myself to studying in between all my meetings and obligations because I wanted to finish well. School saved me from a nervous breakdown,” explained Sirena. “It allowed me to focus my energy in my essays and discussions, not on the traumatic events unfolding in front of me. A good school motivates me, gives me hope.”
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Fortunately, with the new school year, things started to change. Her son improved in group therapy and found more support from his brother. After seeking chemotherapy and radiation at a cancer treatment center in Boston, Sirena’s partner recovered, although the family ignored his current condition. “I’m taking his cancer day by day at this point,” Sirena said. “He’s in remission now.”
While the family’s health has improved, Sirena has also seen many positive achievements in school and work. He was awarded the 2017 Student Service Award by SUNY Empire for his work in the community. He was promoted to senior supervisor at his job. Although her family faced such hardships throughout her college career, Sirena still graduated with a high GPA, becoming the first in her family to do so.
Now, as she continues through graduate school, Sirena wants to use the Cancer Alliance scholarship to continue making a difference in her community and beyond. “I hope there will be more focus on the working poor, systemic racism, youth incarceration, children of incarcerated parents, rehabilitation for addicts and offenders,” Sirena explained. “But my main concern is the aging population of children in childcare, I want to make a difference for them to be successful in support services.
“I’m proof that despite the circumstances, if you want something bad enough, you can do it. There are no excuses in life, only actions matter,” Sirena continued. and I want to extend that perseverance mentality to everyone in my path.
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The Cancer Alliance is honored to award a scholarship to Sirene, who has dedicated most of her life to helping others in need. We look forward to learning about all the positive changes he makes in his community and the greater country.
Applications for the Fall 2018 Cancer Alliance Scholarship are now open. If you have cancer or have seen a loved one face the battle with cancer, submit your essay today for a chance to win $4,000 toward a college education. The deadline for the Fall 2018 semester is March 31, 2018.
Request a Free 2023 Guide Our package will be shipped within 24 hours Request a Free Guide is proud to award a $1,250 second place prize to a nursing student at Albany State University in Georgia in the annual Jan Egerton & Don Smitley Mesothelioma. Scholarship competition. Kelley Ann McGill of Atlanta is one of four students from across the country to receive a scholarship in this year’s essay contest.
In her essay, Kelley shares the story of her grandfather, a former electrical engineer who always prided himself on working hard to stay healthy. Unfortunately, his grandfather’s work environment was not always healthy and he was exposed to the deadly mineral asbestos during his career. In November 2017, he was diagnosed with stage 3 small cell lung cancer.
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Kelley became her grandfather’s caregiver during the day, helping with medicine, food and all his needs. He has seen first hand the damage asbestos diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma can do to an individual and a family. And he knows how hard it is to keep fighting.
“Don’t take your good days for granted,” she advises in her essay. “I celebrate every good day I have with grandpa, the days he nags me for lack of sleep, or the days he’s too excited to torment my stepdad, uncle, or mom. Cherish every smile, every laugh, every hug, every kiss, and every gentle “I love you too.”
Since her grandfather’s diagnosis, Kelley has worked hard to educate herself and others about asbestos and its effects on the body. Even as a paramedic, she decided to continue her education and get a degree in nursing so she could do more for patients like her grandfather had. He plans to use the money from the scholarship for this purpose.
The Jan Egerton & Don Smitley Mesothelioma Scholarships are awarded annually to deserving students at universities and colleges throughout the United States. The scholarships are named after two renowned mesothelioma fighters who battled the devastating cancer of asbestos.
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A total of $5,000 in scholarships were awarded to four deserving students this year. Out of dozens of outstanding entries, the winners were selected based on the well-researched and honest essays they submitted.
“We are proud to support these deserving college students in their mission to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos and its long-term health effects,” explained Belluck & Fox Managing Partner Joseph Belluck. “As an asbestos law firm, we know how important it is to be warned.
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