The silence in the room of the radiology department that warm July morning in 2009 was so deafening I will never forget it.

That day, that appointment started like any other appointment that I had gone to at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. I had been inside the hallways of CHOA since I was there when I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had highs and lows regarding my illness over the next six years, but nothing would compare to July 8, 2009. My mom took ne to the radiology department for a schedule ultrasound. It seemed to me, in my childhood mind, that I had them all the time, but what did I know, I was a kid. So I will share this experience or memory from my childlike point of view. I remember that I thought this appointment was keeping me form cartoons, video games and swimming with my friends. I had done this before, ultrasounds were all the same, put on the gown and hop up on the hard table. They smile and ask you want you would like to watch on TV, trying to make it less scary. How can it be, the rooms were always dark, they put this thick, sticky gel that always started out warm but would get so cold against my skin. It was always the same routine to me until that was until that day. This day, this appointment changed my life forever. The ultrasound tech told me she was all done, and the first thing that ran through my head was how fast that it seemed to go that day. She told my mom she would be right back, but then gave us different instructions than normal. Telling me to hold off getting dressed just in case she did not get enough pictures. This seemed odd to my mother, but she joked around about general stuff with me to pass the time. I realize now why, my mother is also a nurse and in her gut, she knew something was wrong. She was trying to keep not only me preoccupied but keep herself as well. The door opened there was my ultrasound technician, along with what seemed like a posse of people. My mom stood up as the Radiologist introduced himself to her, then to me. He shook my hand like I was an adult. I looked down at my hand as he placed it on my lap and turned to my mother. He placed his hand on her shoulder. I did not understand the words being said, but suddenly my mother’s face turned pale. She looked at me her mouth opened just a bit, and a single tear rolled down her cheek. They told my mother they found a mass, a tumor on my kidney. I did not understand what that meant, what I did understand is I was scared of the deafening silence in the room.

I realize now, this was that moment in time I would never forget. One that would shape me a survivor, but not define me as a victim. This is really the chapter of my life that shaped who I am and who I want to become in my adult life. The compassion of the nurses and the techs that were by not only my side, but my family’s side through the entire process didn’t truly hit me until I was a bit older. It seemed as if they always knew just what to do or say.  I knew as I grew and matured that not only I wanted to be that nurse  to some child going through the worst time in their life so far, I had to be it had become a burning passion within me. I wanted to become that nurse that always made children feel safe, made them smile, made those injections hurt less, and in the end, their visits seem shorter. This has been my constant motivation to pursue nursing as my career choice. I share this pivotal moment because it changed me, not for pity from my story, I can do anything I set my mind to. This scholarship would make my dreams that much easier. Nothing in my life has ever come to me easily, and I do not expect this to be any different. But the concept of having no financial obligation either during or after college would truly be a dream come true.