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A Success Story - Brandon Pearson

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Brandon Pearson 

Brandon is attending Kirkwood Community College in Alburnett, Iowa, majoring in Pre-Chiropractic Medicine.  His experience with cancer has taught him the importance of volunteering and has inspired him to pursue a career in the medical field.  He is a Wilm's' Tumor survivor.  In his own words:

As I opened my eyes to the smiling faces of the strange men in light blue scrubs and the blinding opalescent light from the lamps above me, I was placed into my mother's arms.  She looked down at me with loving, tear-filled eyes and knew that I was hers, her first-born son.  I was just like any other 9-pound newborn infant; healthy, crying, and waiting for someone to love me.  There was only one difference between me and the other babies that I shared the nursery with.  I had a secret.  That malevolent secret was growing inside of me from the day I was born.  So it grew as I grew, and lurked beneath my skin, hidden and enervating, like a parasite.  One year later, my doctor found a cancerous Wilm's Tumor inside my right kidney.

At the time, I had no idea of the things that were to happen to me.  I was taken to and from the hospital in Iowa City for check-ups, operations, and chemotherapy.  All of my hair fell out and I would cry constantly from the pain after the surgery.  I was only one year old.  The medicine would always make me sick, and I would sometimes wait a week or more before going to the bathroom.  There was nothing my parents and I could do except fight.  So I fought, and my parents fought with me.  

It was a hard road to recovery for me, but probably even more so for my parents.  My mom and dad were in their mid twenties and had to watch their first and only son go through hell.  They were hopelessly lost in sorrow and helplessness.  The doctors' advice and constant support from our family kept them going while they watched and waited.  They were low on money, but my mom quit her job anyway to take care of me, and my dad had to work full time with overtime hours to keep us on top of our bills.  Between shifts and on nights, my dad would meet my mother at the hospital to support me during my week of surgery.  It was hard for all of us, but we made it through.   

As I neared my second birthday, I grew stronger, my hair grew back, the broviac tube was taken out of my chest, and I claimed my victory over cancer.  Together my parents, doctors, and I rose against the odds, and triumphed.  The only lasting memory of my experience is a recurring nightmare that started when I was in surgery.

However, I give my experience with cancer a lot of credit for making me the person I am today.  I have always been very mature for my age.  I never really fit in with the rest of my class because I was never interested in the things they were doing.  This allowed me to stay focused and above peer pressure.  Often I would have time to ponder on the many mysteries of life, and I realized the only real difference a person can make in this world is through the life of others.  I have tried to mold my life and my values to make a difference.  To do this I started doing things that did not seem like that much fun, such as volunteer work.  There is just one thing that bothered me about volunteering; it was not horrible after all.  At times it is hard work but seeing a smile on somebody’s face makes everything worth it.  It makes no difference whether you help the young or old because the response is always the same.  Even just doing something simple like picking somebody’s pencil off the ground with a smile on one’s face can turn their day from a bad one to a good one.  It’s just that simple.

I have really enjoyed the volunteering I have done:  trick or treating for the needy, junior high halloween dance helper, making an Alburnett dance-a-thon flyer, making school cents stickers advertising for school cents, selling tickets for the Childen's Miracle Network, playing guitar in a band for the dance-a-thon and historical society, hosting a senior citizen dinner, helping with a ditch clean up, and going on a mission trip to South Dakota.  I am currently involved in the student ambassador program at Kirkwood, and I am searching for volunteer work at one of the nearby hospitals. 

Having cancer made me realize just how fragile life really is and that every day that we have here should be used to better not only one’s own life but the lives of those around us.  This is why I am planning to go into a medical career later in life.  Being a doctor would give me a chance to heal others and also support a family of my own.  Being able to heal others is very important to me.  I have seen personally, the miracles that our physicians have done.  Doctors have the most important jobs because, after all, they save lives, and a life is the most precious thing a person has.  Without this life I have today, I would not be able to appreciate all this world has to offer and it is all thanks to the doctors that saved my life.  That is why I have chosen to go into a medical career, because I know that if I could save somebody else’s life it would be the most rewarding thing I could accomplish in my life. 

I also would really like to continue volunteering even out of high school.  I have found that it builds character and is rewarding beyond monetary means.  If possible, I would like to be part of a small town’s council.  I believe I could help even more people this way by making this world a better place to live in.  That is all that is important anyway; making this world even better for future generations.  This is what we as a people are working for, and for this reason I have decided to continue in my studies and become another helping hand in this world of troubles.

Today, I am nineteen years old, and I have been healthy and cancer free for almost eighteen years.  I am living proof that cancer is beatable.  Now I have been given the opportunity to continue my education thanks to the scholarship from Cancer Survivors' Fund (CSF).  CSF has not only given me support with a generous monetary donation, but also with inspiring and uplifting e-mails and books.  It has been a blessing to be part of such a great organization.  CSF just goes to show that no matter how horrible things can be in this world, there are still benevolent people waiting to care for those who have had to go through such horrors.

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