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We are pleased and proud to award the first Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship to Olivia Current.
Olivia is a four-year cancer survivor. In 2011, at the age of 16, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and her subsequent treatment required not only rounds of intense chemotherapy but also a bone-marrow transplant to address a DNA mutation. Olivia’s experience was fraught with complications from infections to graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a condition in which the newly transplanted tissue attacks the receiver’s system.
As if that wasn’t enough, due to the amount of drugs she had to take to combat the aggressive cancer, Olivia’s kidneys failed. She has been going to dialysis three times a week for three-to-four hour sessions at a time. Meanwhile, she is on the kidney donor list waiting for a match to be found.
In her winning essay, Olivia describes her time in the hospital as “very painful and isolating.” “For almost four months I was isolated in one room,” she writes, and during that period she was able to see only one of seven previously identified members of her family at a time.
Yet despite her ongoing experience with cancer, Olivia has managed to keep a positive point of view and seek a bright future for herself. “Cancer gave me such an appreciative outlook on life,” Olivia wrote in her essay. “It makes me so grateful that I am alive, and even though I have kidney failure, I am healthy. It made me realize how much I really do have.”
Although she still goes to dialysis regularly, Olivia is now attending college. Her goal is to work as a pediatric nurse at a children’s hospital, where she can take care of others and inspire them to keep the same hopeful outlook she has managed to retain. “I want to work with sick kids,” Olivia wrote in her essay, “and make sure they know that there is hope, and that if I can get through the hardest years of my life, so can they.”
As winner of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship, Olivia has received $4,000 toward her college expenses. We at the MCA wish Olivia all the best and look forward to seeing her accomplish her goal of becoming a nurse.
Scholarship applications for the Fall 2015 semester are being accepted now through March 31, 2015.
The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship was created in honor of Heather Von St. James, a survivor of mesothelioma cancer, and her dedicated husband, Cameron, who enrolled in college after Heather was diagnosed. They know that, no matter the hardship, every little bit of help counts.