Student Voice

Check out this month’s issue of Student Health 101 for articles by HCI interns and students like you!  Michele Williams gave us permission to repost her Student Voice article here.

Student Voice – Michele Williams

“This is not what I was expecting, but you have cancer”. The world slowed down for a minute when I heard those painful words uttered. I was lying in a recovery room. I was 24 years old and just had my first colonoscopy. The bright lights blinded me as I looked for a way out of this nightmare. At the end of the examination table sat my dad. The agony flooding his face was enough to confirm that this was real life.

One of my first thoughts was college. I was to graduate in less than two weeks. I had worked too hard and come too far to stop now. All I was looking forward to was completing my student teaching in the fall; but cancer has the painful ability to steal your dreams and change your priorities. I always dreamed of being a teacher. As a little girl, I practiced being a teacher by lining up my stuffed animals and “teaching” them the ABC’s. Over the next two weeks, while most future graduates were planning graduation parties, I was meeting with doctors to create the plan of attack on my cancer.

When the ringing of my alarm woke me on May 17, 2013, I felt an indescribable emotion. As I sat there at graduation listening to the Dean of Education give her speech, I looked around at the sea of smiling, anxious faces. Everyone was overwhelmed with joy, and excitement. I was overwhelmed with fear, and anxiety. No one, not even myself, knew about the journey I was about to embark on. I’ve never felt so isolated and alone as I did sitting there in my cap and gown with cancer.

In the summer of 2013, I completed 6 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy at UPenn. The week I should have begun my student teaching, I had my first surgery. A week later, I was pronounced cancer free. It was an exhilarating feeling. In December 2013, I had my second surgery. After a month of healing, I began student teaching. I finished my student teaching in May 2014. I am currently substituting where I student taught, and working as a cognitive coach. The moral of my story is no obstacle is great enough to keep you from achieving what you worked so hard for.


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