I sat in the cold and empty waiting-room of my surgeon’s office like it was any routine check-up. Other than the fixed discomfort from the fifty-plus stitches that had been squeezing the fresh wound in my back for the past week, it was just a customary linger in my day—no more significant than waiting in line for a cashier to ring-up your groceries. That’s how I felt, at least. My parents tried to hide the fact they felt any different, but their failed attempts only made it all the more observable that they were afraid. Typically distant and nonsocial, that morning my father was overly-talkative, and he conveniently spoke on every single topic possible except for the obvious one. Normally, I have to fight my way to get more than a mumble out of him, but not on this day. My mother is (and was) the complete opposite of my father; usually a high-strung chatterbox badgering me beyond annoyance, on this day she was mute and surprisingly, perfectly pleasant.
As I sat between them, I should have been worried too. If my life was a movie, this assuredly was the climactic scene. In a few minutes, I would be finding out what would either turn out to be the best or worst news of my life. As for my attitude: alarmingly neutral. Looking back, I am still a bit unsure as to why this was the case.
Perhaps the heavy dosage of oxycodone not only sedated my physical pain, but my emotional response as well. Or possibly, it was just too early in the morning for me to feel anything other than tiredness. However, it is most plausible that I was simply incapable of interpreting the magnitude of what I was going to find out. Especially given the fact that I would be receiving news of this nature during an already pivotal, fork-in-the-road transition in my life, an extensive list of implications were assuredly attached to this determination. Regardless, finding out whether or not cancer was spreading throughout my entire body should have been a big deal to me by itself.
And it all started from a tiny freckle on my back. For months, my mother had been hounding me about it—but again, she does that about a lot of things. In fairness to her, the pestering ended up being absolutely worthwhile in this case. Finally schlepping my way into a dermatology office just so I wouldn’t have to endure anymore nagging about it, I found out that my mother’s worries were legitimate. My dermatologist proceeded with an incision after finding the particular freckle “suspicious”, by her own admission. Lab results turned out being even more “suspicious”, so she dug a little deeper and I waited to hear back. This time, my dermatologist’s reply would be more formal, and with reason. Apparently, lab results by both The University of Miami and Harvard University confirmed that I had a malignant melanoma in my body. In laymen’s terms, I had skin cancer, and the only question at this point was to what degree. Of course, the results of my forthcoming surgery would answer this question.
So there I finally was: post-surgery and waiting unenthusiastically for my fate. My mother delivered an overwhelmingly powerful sigh as my father leaped from his seat when the answer was at last given as to the status of my cancer—“negative”. The cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes and thus, was not scattering throughout my body; in fact, the surgery had eliminated it completely. I was cancer-free.
Still, my response was ambivalent. It just didn’t hit me. It must have been quite a humorous site for my surgeon to see—two parents having a dramatic emotional meltdown for their son who meanwhile sits between them looking as if he is lost in a daydream. That’s probably what led him to add the hook, line, and sinker: if I hadn’t discovered the cancer within a six-month period from when I actually did, I would not have survived.
That’s when reality crashed in on me. No cancer. No chemotherapy. No fighting for my life. I had been saved by complete chance. In that moment, I felt more appreciative of my life than I had ever before—but that was only of slight importance. What would become immensely significant, however, was the evolution of a genuine appreciation for where my life was going. This enlightened perspective—an epiphany on a continuum, if you will—would manifest itself through a relentless determination to succeed. And what determined “success” was far from ambiguous in my case; it was quite lucid, in fact. Since early childhood, my family and I had envisioned me becoming a lawyer, and at this point, absolutely nothing would deter me from that achievement. My life had been handed back to me, and it would become my aspiration to legitimize it for happening.
The timing for this monumental cycle of events couldn’t have come at a more convenient time, which makes it all the more enthralling. A month after finding out I had escaped cancer, I began my college tenure at Florida State University, where I would ultimately graduate with Cum Laude honors. While my college career was met with great success, I take less pride in my individual academic achievements than I do for actually maintaining the ambition that I had started with. Certainly, the former is superficial, while the latter encompasses a much deeper value.
Without a doubt, my persistent attitude alongside the ensuing outcomes underlies the authority of my outlook since beating cancer. For me, this is reassuring, and it reinforces my lack of regret for the ten-inch scar on my back, as I certainly persevered as a stronger, wiser, and all-in-all better person as a result. Not many people can say they have had their life handed back to them, and with that, I cherish the unique, lifelong gift that I gained because of it. Moreover, I am certain that I will continue to embody the same ideals that I inherited from my cancer breakthrough and subsequently excel as a law student. In the meantime, I will continue to keep my ultimate vision intact and act accordingly…while also finding a means to stay out of the sun.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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