Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – The Battle of My Life Will Bring Awareness

Name: Marcus Josey
From: York, PA
School: Northeastern Senior High School
Votes: 321

Being diagnosed with high risk Acute Lyphoblastic Leukemia at age 17
during the height of my recruiting process as a quarterback for
football has been both detrimental but also a blessing in many ways.
I can’t imagine that anybody would ever want to go through
chemotherapy, spinal taps, bone marrow scrapes, bone pain, the loss
of school during my senior year, and the loss of sports. However,
even though I have lost these things, along with lots of weight, my
hair, and my overall social life, I have also gained a lot. My
diagnosis also affected me in positive ways. I became a more
compassionate person. I realized that the world does not revolve
around me and life can change in a heartbeat. I also learned that
there are other pediatric cancer patients that are diagnosed with far
worse cancers than myself and they have inspired me to be strong. My
diagnosis also made me become much more outgoing, because before my
diagnosis I was very shy. Because of my diagnosis, I have been
given a lot of attention, due to the fact that I was a stand out
athlete. I was challenged to use the media to draw attention to
pediatric cancer and draw awareness, which I have done every chance I
get. This has helped me to not be nearly as shy, which is a
positive. I have been given the opportunity to speak at many mini
thon events and even was recently a guest speaker with Jay Paterno at
a large fund raiser for A Toast to Four Diamonds for Penn State Thon.
I felt very proud that I was able to face my fears and speak out and
share my story while drawing aware to pediatric cancer. I also just
found out that I was nominated for Boy of the Year for the Leukemia
and Lymphoma Society which will also give me an opportunity to help
raise money to find a cure for this disease. In conclusion, Although
this disease has negatively impacted my life and has taken me from
the game I love, I am confident that when I become a pediatric
oncologist one day that my perspective on fighting this disease
myself will help my future patients.

The thing I feel the worst about is the impact that this has had on my
entire family. On April 10th, the day of diagnosis, my mom went to
work and upon me calling her to come get me with a nosebleed, was not
able to return to her teaching job of 22 years, due to me being
diagnosed later in the day. She left a job she was not only amazing
at, but one that she made a very good living at. During this time,
we left our family dream home and downsized to a townhouse, which my
mom insists is okay, because she says that a home is wherever our
family is, but I hate that this is all because I got cancer. I feel
guilty a lot about how hard of a strain financially this has put on
my parents so my mom could be with me to take care of me during my
treatments. The community has helped us out with fund raisers and
several amazing foundations reached out to us as well, but I know
that it is not the same as when my mom was working. I know that my
parents are very worried about paying for my college, because I was
being heavily recruited for football and it was pretty established
that I would be getting a full athletic/academic scholarship to an
Ivy League University or a Division III College. My parents and I
prepared my entire life both academically (I am a member of the
National Honor Society) and athletically (my father positioned me in
good programs and worked very hard on and off the field with me) so
that my college would not be a financial strain. The night of
diagnosis I told my mom I had two major concerns: I didn’t want
others to cry and be worried about me, and how I was going to pay for
my college. These are still my two biggest worries.

I realized almost immediately after being diagnosed that I had an
obligation to use my status in the media to bring awareness to
pediatric cancer, not just for myself, but for every child that is
battling cancer. On the day after I was diagnosed, several
television stations and several local newspapers did articles about
me and I made sure to be positive and show them that pediatric cancer
was important and was newsworthy. I have been honored to speak at
mini thon events at several high schools in my area and have just
begun a pen pal campaign with a high school in Maryland as well to
bring awareness as well. I believe strongly that most students are
very unaware of what patients go through and I feel like I can be a
bridge so that others can have compassion for those fighting this
battle. I also had the amazing opportunity to take Miss New Jersey
to my homecoming dance at Northeastern High School this year in 2015.
I chose to ask her because she won the prestigious Quality of Life
award for her service to others. This relationship then continued and
Miss New Jersey came back to Pennsylvania and joined me in a motor
cycle toy run to Hershey Medical Center, where the almost 700
participants raised $17,000 and hundreds of toys for kids being
treated there. I have also been recently nominated as Boy of the
Year by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society where I will be
aggressively campaigning for 10 weeks for funding for pediatric
cancer research and hope to be able to fund research grants like the
$75,000 Pediatric grant in my name with the hope of finding a cure.
I also believe that I have made a positive impact in the world
through the mentoring that I have done with an 8 year old leukemic
patient named Elliot Ross, who was diagnosed 4 days after me. I
chose to do my senior project based on granting Elliot and his family
mini wishes to help him get through his treatments. We have ended up
growing an amazing bond, brothers almost. This friendship will be
featured by the NFL intiative through the Eagles called Road to
Vicitory stories. It will likely air sometime next fall but tells of
a friendship that was formed from cancer that will never end. We are
also excited to participate in the upcoming Penn State Thon together
where we will be in the fashion show! These are some of the ways
that I believe that my battle with cancer has made a positive impact
with the world around me.

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