Cancer, the word that no one wants to hear. When I was 6 years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and my life as a normal kid was completely changed. I didn’t understand why I had to go through this and thought that there were only dark times ahead of me. However, I could not see all the amazing goodness that was going to come with this journey.

Camp Sunshine was my home away from home. When I was 8 years old, I went to junior camp for the very first time. I was scared of leaving home and being without my parents for a week, but little did I know, I was going to have the best week of my life. I made some amazing friends who brought out the best of me and truly made me smile with joy. The environment of the camp was truly remarkable, and the week flew by. After that life changing experience, I knew I had to go back, and I have been going to camp every year since. It is the one week I always look forward to because I am able to truly be myself with others who share a common bond. I have made so many memories at camp that I will never forget.

Throughout my journey I was blessed to have the most amazing nurses and doctors who took care of me, made sure I wasn’t scared, and always gave me hope and encouragement when things got hard. They never failed to put a smile on my face and cheer me up, and they always made me feel safe and genuinely cared for. After I finished my treatment and went into remission, I was extremely thankful for all the amazing nurses who helped me through the journey.

Since then, I’ve always had the desire to be a nurse because I’ve had a desire to help others the same way they helped me. I know it is not an easy job, but since I have been in my patient's shoes, I know I'll be able to support them and their families through the stress of the diagnosis and treatment.

With this scholarship, I may be able to achieve my goal of becoming a pediatric oncology nurse, so I can help kids who are going through a similar journey that I went through.

This is an excerpt from an essay by Rachel Wang, recipient of a Camp Sunshine scholarship. Rachel is attending Kennesaw State University.