The story of how I came to attend the University of Michigan is one I have told many times to many different audiences. In short, I never thought about coming to Michigan until I was diagnosed with leukemia two weeks before my high school graduation and was forced to take a gap year between high school and college to receive treatment. I had committed to play football at Lehigh University prior to my diagnosis but was forced to give up football after undergoing extensive radiation. Thankfully, I am now cancer-free and am a proud Michigan Wolverine!
Since being diagnosed, I have spoken at several fundraising events on behalf of foundations that benefit the centers where I was treated and have written essays detailing my journey for scholarship applications. So when I encountered a topic in my English 125 class that required me to write a personal narrative, it was a no-brainer what I would write about. In the narrative, I detailed my battle with cancer from diagnosis to remission and received an A for the paper. In the same way that I had done before, I relied on the inherent drama of the narrative and simply replayed the story chronologically. I knew very well that by choosing to write about such a topic would pull on the heart strings of my instructor and most likely result in an A.
This semester I would like to repurpose the chronological personal narrative that I wrote in my English 125 into a new form that will allow for greater self-reflection and allow me to think about my experiences in a way that I haven’t before. When I was first diagnosed, my uncle bought me a journal and suggested that I record my thoughts each day throughout my treatment and eventually publish a book. At the time I was reluctant to do so because I largely rejected the idea that I was sick at all and tried to go about my normal life as much as possible. However, I have since tinkered with the idea of telling my story in the form of a comedic take on cancer. During my treatment, my friends and I often joked that I “pulled the cancer card” to get special treatment such as cutting the line at Chipotle, asking my mom to deliver me a glass of ice water (this was no easy task because my family uses an old-fashioned ice tray), and using my story to convince an employee at the Apple store to sell me the iPhone6 someone else had pre-ordered. I think writing a piece consisting of the humorous elements of my cancer treatment as opposed to the scary elements would be an interesting way of repurposing this narrative.
The pieces I have read by celebrities that have battled cancer such as Robin Roberts and Stuart Scott have all been extremely powerful and inspiring, however, I have never read a cancer story that takes a lighthearted approach. I know I would have welcomed reading a piece that I could have related to and laughed about during my chemotherapy treatments. This may not be the best way to repurpose my personal narrative from English 125 and I am conscious of the fact that cancer is a very sensitive topic to many people. With that being said, I think teenagers and young adults undergoing treatment for cancer and serious disease would be able to relate to my experiences and get a good laugh. I am certainly not committed to this form and am looking forward to suggestions.