We are thrilled to announce the third recipient of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship: Termeh Khoshniat.
In 2008, when Termeh was 16 years old, her mother became severely ill. After years of tests, deteriorating health, and multiple diagnoses, her mother was officially diagnosed with stage II mesothelioma in 2013. From that day forward, Termeh became her mother’s sole, state-appointed caretaker. Her story of courage and perseverance left us humbled and speechless.
As her mother’s caregiver, Termeh bore witness to a devastating journey of cancer treatments, including multiple aggressive surgeries and chemotherapy. While her mother became physically weaker, Termeh was forced to grow stronger. Despite her strength, she struggled with the emotional exhaustion of it all. As she writes in her moving essay, she felt “the fear of losing her, the desperation to have more time with her and to learn more from her before she was gone, the worry that I had no idea what I would do without her.”
In addition to her internal struggle, Termeh’s school work began to suffer, but she pushed forward to college. As she tried managing her studies at UCLA, Irvine while also returning to LA to take care of her mother, others began to tell her that she would not be able to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. As her family became saddled with medical bills and her mother’s health and her own future uncertain, Termeh was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression.
This time, Termeh was forced to start taking care of herself: “I began getting treatment on my own, [and] putting my life back together for [both myself and] my mother.” While working to heal herself, Termeh also began visiting under-resourced countries and teaching children about the risks of cancer.
Now, Termeh is determined to continue helping others with a career in medicine and wants to be a role model for women everywhere, the way her mother has been to her. She writes, “The struggles in my life have made me grow as a person and have solidified my interest in a career in medicine. I have become a stronger woman, and I believe in myself more than ever. […] I want to show [my mother] that through all the struggles we both have undergone, there is still hope to be had in this world.”
As the winner of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship, Termeh will receive $4,000 toward her education expenses. The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is beyond inspired by Termeh’s selflessness and unshakeable determination. We look forward to hearing about all the lives she will undoubtedly impact for the better and hope her dreams become reality.