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A Success Story - Steven Payne

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Steven Payne 

Steve is a freshman at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, majoring in Business.  Through his battle with cancer, Steve learned that life is about relationships with loved ones, not about things.  Steve has learned that cancer does not define who he is; he chooses to be defined by how he responds to life's challenges.  He has survived Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor (DSRCT).  In his own words:

"We define ourselves by the best that is in us not the worst that has been done to us."  Edward Lewis

This quote has come to mean a lot to me.  I have learned that cancer does not define who I am but how I respond to my challenges in life does.

Before my diagnosis, I thought that my biggest battles in life were surviving as the youngest of three brothers and making my mark in high school basketball.  But my biggest and most challenging battle was yet to come.  The summer going into my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with a very rare and very aggressive type of cancer.  At first I thought it was the end of the world, but it was really just a whole new world.  This battle brought into focus what was truly important in my life.  I quickly learned how much others cared and gave of themselves.  Friends, relatives, nurses, doctors, and complete strangers reached out to me.  They gave me hope when I needed it most.  I came to realize how blessed I was to have such a strong support group. 

I started chemotherapy in late July.  I was in the hospital for a week straight and then went home for the next three weeks to give my body a chance to recoup.  During this time I had a lot of time to reflect on what was important in life since it was unclear how long I would survive.  I told myself very early in my therapy that I would concentrate on fighting the battle and not waste my now precious time on asking why.  I learned through those thirteen months that family and friends are the most important things in life.  I came to respect my parents who spent countless hours with me during those long days and nights.  I was never left to face my treatments alone.  There was always a parent, relative, or friend to help me through the difficult treatments.  I learned that life is not about things but relationships.  The devotion and love of so many helped me through each day.  Facing the uncertainties of life became less of a burden since I had someone to share my fears with. 

When the doctors delivered the good news that I was in remission it was the summer of my junior year.  The doctor told me that the most effective way to prevent the cancer from returning was a double stem cell transplant.  This required for me to stay in the hospital in isolation for nearly a month, a week home, and then another three to four week stay.  Although it was the hardest thing that I have ever gone through, my family and friends were there to support me at every turn.  So today as I reflect back on this journey, I have decided to live each day to the fullest and always look forward and not back.  I don't know what the future holds but I do know that each day is precious to me.  My goals in life have changed since my diagnosis.  I still want to go to college and make my mark in the business world, but I know that on that journey I will take the time to enjoy the people in my life.  I want to give something back since so much has been given to me. 

I have volunteered at numerous places:  I have been on a radio-a-thon twice to help raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation, I have participated twice in the Relay for Life at my school, I have volunteered at the Children's Memorial Hospital.  I am also part of a support program for kids who are having stem cell transplants.

College has always been a goal of mine, and I am very grateful to Cancer Survivors' Fund for helping me reach this goal.  Thank you for all of the support and encouragement, Cancer Survivors' Fund!"

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