Andre Sobel Award 2011 First Place Winner


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The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation has announced the winners of the 2011 Andre Sobel Award for Survivors of Pediatric Cancer and other Illnesses. Now in its tenth year, the Award invites teens who have survived serious illness to share their stories so that friends, family and others experiencing serious health challenges may learn from their experiences. In highly personal, wise, humorous and sometimes searing essays, teens reflect on how illness has changed their relationships, their outlooks and their lives.

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Andre Sobel Award 2011 First Place Winner

  1. 1. Y ou A re era ld & atie Fitzg K Cole man Mira nda inner 2011 el ace W b re So st PlAnd ard Aw Fir
  2. 2. A bo ut  Katie  and  Miranda  have   been   best  friends  for  8   years.   During  this  time,   Katie  has  had  to   battle  cancer,  chemotherapy  and  a  relapse.   It  has  been  a  long   journey,  but  since   April   2011,   she   is   now   in   remission.   Katie   and   Miranda   both   reside   in  Washington   and   attend   Green   River   Community   College.   Katie   is   working   on  general   education  and  is  thinking  about  going   pre-­‐med,  while  Miranda  is  focusing  on   general   education.  Both   girls  are   baristas  at  Starbucks.   Katie  enjoys   reading,  while  Miranda  coaches  a  girls’  soccer  team  in  her  free  time.  Katie   and   Miranda   collaborated   on   their   pieces   together   and   came   up   with   a  unique   way  to   document  their  fear,  struggles,  humor  and  what  they  needed  from  each   other  through   that  dark  time.  They  are   both  grateful   to  have   each  other  and  their  unbreakable  bond  that  they  as  best  friends  only  know.Katie  and  Miranda  both  plan  on  using  the  award  to  help  fund  their  education.
  3. 3. Es say Radio  Host  for  a  DaySegment  1-­‐ • Introduction: o Hi,  my  name  is  Katie  Fitzgerald,  and  I  am  taking  over  92.5  KMF  radio  for  an   educational  and  exclusive  inside  look  to  the  life  of  cancer  patients.    I  was   diagnosed  with  Hodgkins  Lymphoma  when  I  was  16.    I  have  been  through  2   relapses,  13  rounds  of  chemo,  41  radiation  treatments  and  a  stem  cell   transplant.    Today  well  be  playing  songs  and  answering  viewers  questions  that   deal  with  cancer.    Lets  get  started! • Question:    Caller  named  Roy  was  just  diagnosed  and  hasnt  told  anyone,  "How              did   you  tell  people  after  you  found  out?" o I  waited  until  the  last  minute  before  I  trusted  anyone  with  my  diagnosis.    It   wasnt  up  I  went  from  long  hair  to  short  hair  that  I  told  people.    After  the  initial   new  hairdo  change,  they  would  expect  all  of  to  be  gone  and  it  provided  me  a   way  to  reach  out  to  others  and  let  them  know.    I  needed  someone  to  tell  me  how   to  let  everyone  around  me  know  about  my  situation.    I  waited  for  something  like   hair  loss  to  initiate  those  kinds  of  conversations. • Song  Intermission: o Why  Cant  we  be  Friends?-­‐  Smash  Mouth o Upside  Down-­‐  Jack  Johnson • Question:    Caller  named  Beth  just  lost  her  hair,  "How  did  you  handle  all  the  stares  in   public?"   o Honestly,  I  almost  had  to  be  coaxed  into  heading  out  in  to  the  world.    I  didnt   know  how  people  would  react  to  seeing  someone  actually  look  sick.    And  all  the   staring  was  enough  to  get  under  anyones  skin.    I  started  taking  others  with  me   into  public  and  pretended  that  the  pity  look  held  in  everyones  eyes  was  for  the   person  walking  with  me  and  not  trying  to  figure  out  whats  wrong  with  me.    But   something  you  could  try,  just  like  they  tell  performers,  just  picture  everyone  else   in  their  undergarments!    Or  think  of  how  they  would  look  without  hair...They   probably  wouldnt  look  nearly  as  cute  as  you! • Song  Intermission: o Strip  Me-­‐  Natasha  Bedingfield o I  am-­‐  Hilary  Duff
  4. 4. Segment  2: • Commercial: o Nauseous?    And  do  you  want  to  forget  all  of  the  craziness  that  comes  with   cancer?    Well  do  we  have  a  prescription  for  you!    Ativan  will  be  your  new  best   friend.    Just  take  one  of  these  pills  before  every  meal  and  when  you  start  to  feel   sick  to  your  tummy.    Its  guaranteed  to  take  you  on  fun  ride  that  you  probably   wont  even  remember.    Warning:  take  only  when  needed  and  follow  doctors   orders. • Question:    Suzanne  is  currently  going  through  treatment,  "What  helped  you  the  most?" o The  support  system  I  had  from  my  family  at  home  was  probably  the  biggest   help.    I  also  had  amazing  teachers  to  work  with  me  through  all  of  my  missed   assignments  and  lessons.    I  think  I  needed  someone  to  tell  me  to  reach  out  and   lean  on  all  the  people  around  me  who  werent  afraid  of  how  all  the  treatments   were  affecting  me.    Learn  to  trust  people  and  dont  be  afraid  to  ask  for  help;  this   is  too  much  to  handle  alone. • Song  Intermission: o Live  it  Up-­‐  Lee  Dewyze o Live  like  Were  Dying-­‐  Kris  Allen • Question:    Zane  was  just  diagnosed,  "What  was  the  worst  part?" o Oh  my!    The  first  thing  that  came  to  mind  was  the  feeling  of  hunger.    After  every   cycle  of  chemo  I  always  felt  hungry.    My  doctors  also  had  me  on  steroids  that   boosted  my  desire  for  food.    However,  the  constant  feeling  of  nausea  totally   killed  my  appetite.    Someone  needed  to  tell  me  to  stay  away  from  all  my  favorite   foods!    I  didnt  want  to  eat  my  favorite  comfort  foods  after  I  lost  a  few  of  them   during  treatment. • Commercial: o Are  you  looking  to  lose  a  few  extra  pounds?    The  only  thing  standing  between   you  and  a  new  body  is  a  cancer  diagnosis!    Spending  a  few  months  in  the  hospital   on  a  strict  regimen  of  toxic  poisons  is  a  sure  fire  way  to  jumpstart  a  new  you.    Did   I  mention  the  added  bonus  of  the  delicious  tastings  of  the  hospitals  cafeteria   food?    We  just  want  to  make  your  diet  is  as  pleasant  as  possible.    Nothing  will   make  you  feel  better  while  youre  nauseous  like  the  scrumptious  recipes  of  the   cafeteria.    Lucky  for  you,  this  new  diet  is  just  a  phone  call  away!    Please  call   1-­‐800-­‐CancerBody  for  details. • Song  Intermission: o Apologize-­‐  One  Republic o Skin  (Sara  Beth)-­‐  Rascal  Flatts  Segment  3:
  5. 5. • Commercial: o Are  you  tired  of  making  a  mess  every  time  you  have  a  last  minute  urge  to  purge   your  latest  meal?    Well  with  this  new  pink  "Chuck"  bucket,  youll  be  left  with  only   a  single  mess  to  clean  up!    "Chuck"  can  travel  with  you  in  the  car,  to  your  cozy   spot  on  the  couch  and  even  sleep  next  to  you  in  bed!    This  handy,  made-­‐to-­‐go-­‐ anywhere  companion  is  there  to  help  you  throughout  any  last  minute  accidents;   guaranteed. • Question:    A  cancer  researcher  wants  to  know,  "What  did  you  need  the  most  from  the   doctors?" o I  really  needed  the  doctors  to  tell  me  reassure  me  and  keep  my  confidence  up   with  the  treatment.    They  did  an  amazing  job  though.    I  always  had  all  the  meds  I   needed  and  they  answered  the  millions  of  questions  I  asked.    I  felt  very   comfortable  with  them,  and  that  was  very  important  to  me.    All  throughout   treatments,  I  never  felt  in  the  dark  about  anything,  I  was  informed  with  an  idea   of  what  to  expect. • Song  Intermission: o Lean  on  Me-­‐  Bill  Withers o How  to  Save  a  Life-­‐  The  Fray • Question:    Caller  Justin  has  just  relapsed  and  asks,  "How  did  you  handle  your  relapse?" o I  didnt  even  know  how  to  handle  having  to  go  through  everything  all  over  again.     For  a  brief  moment,  I  was  so  terrified  life  was  over  for  me.    I  wish  there  was   someone  who  couldve  told  me  that  things  were  going  to  be  ok.    I  needed   reassurance  and  support  from  all  of  my  loved  ones  and  close  friends.    The   treatment  was  more  demanding,  but  having  knowledge  of  what  to  expect  from   chemo  and  all  the  side  effects,  the  treatment  process  runs  a  little  more   smoothly. • Song  Intermission: o Here  it  Goes  Again-­‐  Ok  go o Breathe-­‐  Ryan  StarSegment  4: • Commercial: o Attention!  All  chemo  patients-­‐  a  new  hospital  gown  had  just  been  released  to   replace  the  boring,  everyday  attire  worn  by  civilians.    And  if  thats  not  enough,   well  help  you  stand  out  in  the  hospital  by  allowing  you  to  give  every  passer-­‐  by   the  potential  for  a  free  peep-­‐show!    So,  lets  shed  those  boring  attires  for  the  new   much  needed  designer  gowns. • Question:    Rhondas  son  was  just  diagnosed,  "What  did  you  need  most  from  those   around  you?" o I  needed  everyone  around  me  to  keep  some  sense  of  normalcy  in  my  life.    I  know   they  were  struggling  with  my  diagnosis,  but  I  really  needed  them  to  stop  treating  
  6. 6. me  differently.    I  was  still  the  same  exact  person  they  knew  me  to  be  and  I  just   wanted  to  be  treated  as  a  normal  human  being  just  like  everyone  else.    I  already   had  pity  and  curious  looks  from  the  rest  of  the  world  everywhere  I  went.    I  just   needed  a  safe  place  and  security  from  my  family  that  I  wasnt  some  fragile  thing   that  could  break  at  any  second.    I  craved  a  normal  environment  where  I  wasnt   being  looked  at  like  a  spectacle,  and  they  did  they  best  they  could  to  provide   one. • Song  Intermission: o Love  Me  to  Pieces-­‐  Erik  Hassle o I  Wont  Let  Go-­‐  Rascal  Flatts • Question:  Ethan  is  a  cancer  survivor  and  had  many  different  reactions  to  different   foods,  "What  was  the  worst  food  reaction  you  came  across?" o I  think  the  worst  food  group  for  me  was  dairy!    I  wish  my  mom  wouldve   reminded  me  before  a  glass  of  milk  or  super  cheesy  quesadilla  that  after  dairy   has  had  a  chance  to  digest  it  is  sour  and  utterly  disgusting  when  it  comes  back  up   on  you.    I  needed  a  list  of  foods  to  avoid,  thats  for  sure.    Like  I  made  mention   earlier,  your  favorite  foods  or  foods  you  just  couldnt  live  without  I  would   recommend  skipping  them  completely.    Another  big  iffy  area  for  me  was  smells.     Smell  association  was  awful  for  me.    I  used  gum,  mints,  and  other  hard  candies   to  mask  the  taste  of  saline  but  the  smell  of  anything  spearmint  afterward  caused   almost  instant  nausea.    I  would  just  give  a  warning  saying  that  anything  you  may   be  a  fan  of  could  come  back  to  haunt  you  if  you  arent  careful! • Song  Intermission: o Survivior-­‐  Destinys  Child o Stronger-­‐  Kanye  WestSegment  5: • Commercial: o Going  through  chemo?    Have  you  reached  the  point  where  its  time  to  cover  your   new  do?    I  have  just  the  thing!    Replace  your  hair  with  different  colored  head   scarves  that  match  any  outfit.    Nothing  says  fashion  like  these  new  hair   replacements...after  all,  its  not  your  fault  you  have  a  new  shiny,  soft  head. • A  Final  Note: o I  thought  I  would  conclude  your  day  with  me  by  offering  a  few  helpful  hints! 1. Dont  be  stubborn  or  afraid  to  ask  for  help!    People  are  willing  to  help  and  you  just   need  to  let  them.    Those  closest  to  you  are  dealing  with  and  going  through  a  lot  of   what  you  are,  so  allow  them  to  help  you.   2. Dont  be  afraid  to  take  medication.    I  was  one  of  the  worst  to  wait  until  it  was  too   late  to  take  something  for  my  nausea.    I  would  always  regret  it  to,  because  I  hated   throwing  up  more  than  anything.
  7. 7. 3. Sleep  is  so  important.    Get  as  much  sleep  as  you  can  so  you  have  the  most  energy   throughout  your  days.    Rest  is  so  important  for  the  body  to  heal.    Going  through   treatment  sends  your  body  to  hell  and  back.    Even  work  in  a  little  exercise  here   and  there.    When  youre  tired  or  not  feeling  well  just  rest,  youll  need  all  the  help   you  can  to  keep  your  energy  up. o Thanks  for  spending  the  day  with  me  on  92.5  KMF  Radio!    I  hope  all  of  you  with   lives  that  have  been  affected  by  cancer  continue  to  reach  out  to  support  and   educate  the  rest  of  America.    We  will  find  a  cure  one  day!                    
  8. 8. Dear  Katie,                            Its  been  almost  4  months  since  your  last  treatment.    I  think  we  should  agree  that  you  cant  get  cancer  again.    Or  maybe  next  time  you  could  give  me  a  heads  up  so  I  have  some  time  to  prepare.    Im  just  messing  with  you.    Looking  back  I  honestly  dont  know  how  we  made  it  through.    There  were  so  many  things  I  didnt  know  and  had  to  learn  about  Cancer,  you,  and  even  myself.    Youve  always  been  curious  about  what  it  is  like  to  be  on  the  outside  looking  in  so  I  made  you  a  few  lists.    I  think  these  lists  will  help  you  understand  what  it  is  like  to  be  the  sidekick."What  I  Needed  To  Know"       • The  Basics: o I  needed  to  understand  that  cancer  is  bad.    It  will  suck  the  life  right  out  of  you   with  a  little  help  from  some  chemo. o Chemo  is  like  a  Sour  Patch  Kid...its  sour  and  then  sweet;  it  will  kill  you  before  it   helps  you. o Chemo  is  an  easy  process.    It  is  just  an  IV.    I  assumed  there  would  be  someone  in   a  lab  coat  with  an  evil  laugh,  armed  with  a  syringe,  scalpel,  numerous  needles,   big  instruments,  and  other  dangerous  items.    I  was  a  little  off. o Doctors  dont  care  about  your  sleep  or  mine.    Im  sure  they  live  by  the  rule,  "Im   awake,  so  youre  awake." o Hospital  food  is  more  dangerous  than  chemo.    Im  just  kidding.    But  it  was   horrific  and  my  stomach  hated  me  for  quite  some  time,  consider  yourself  lucky   that  you  didnt  have  much  of  an  appetite. o There  is  no  such  thing  as  comfort  in  a  hospital.    The  beds  are  not  comfortable.     The  chairs  are  not  comfortable.    Nothing  is  comfortable. o All  the  entertainment  in  the  world  such  as,  Facebook,  the  Wii,  Spongebob,  iPod   apps,  Angry  Birds,  How  to  Train  your  Dragon,  or  any  other  source  of   entertainment-­‐  will  not  be  enough  to  overcome  the  boredom. o It  is  good  to  know  what  each  medicine  is  and  the  last  time  you  took  it  because   the  last  thing  we  need  is  the  cancer  patient  overdosing  on  her  cancer  meds. o Bring  multiple  articles  of  clothing  to  the  hospital  with  me...accidents  happen   often. • Specific  Things  About  You:   o You  dont  tell  people  when  you  are  going  to  get  sick  so  I  always  got  a  nice  little   random  surprise,  like  when  driving  or  in  the  middle  of  the  night. o You  make  a  face  when  you  start  to  feel  sick.    It  took  me  a  while  to  learn  this  one   but  once  I  did,  it  made  it  easier  to  predict  the  next  surprise. o I  will  need  to  know  where  "Chuck,"  your  pink  throw  up  bucket,  is  at  all  times. o You  dont  like  to  be  touched,  held,  or  comforted  when  you  dont  feel  well. o Although,  if  I  start  talking  about  random  statistics  like,  a  ducks  quack  doesnt   echo,  youre  less  likely  to  get  sick. o You  dont  eat  on  the  days  you  have  to  go  to  the  hospital  but,  if  you  do  eat,  it  will   come  back  up  shortly.
  9. 9. o Certain  smells  make  you  sick.    Spearmint  gum  is  the  best  example. • How  Cancer  Will  Affect  You: o Chemo  will  make  you  weak.    It  will  take  all  of  your  energy.    It  will  kick  your  butt   and,  ironically  enough,  eventually  save  it  too. o You  will  look  ghostly.    Your  eyes  will  get  darker  and  sunken  in,  your  skin  will   change  colors,  and  you  will  lose  your  hair. o Your  confidence,  faith,  strength,  will,  and  attitude  will  be  tested  and  need  to  be   built  up  with  positivity  every  day. o At  first  you  will  hate  leaving  the  house.    It  will  take  some  pushing  to  get  you  into   public. o There  will  come  a  time  when  you  wont  be  able  to  speak  because  of  all  the  drugs,   I  just  have  to  tell  be  silent  with  you.    Communication  will  be  through  the  eyes,   sense  of  touch,  and  of  course  text  messaging. o You  will  hardly  remember  any  of  this.    The  drugs  they  give  you  such  as  Ativan  and   Morphine  will  help  you  feel  like  it  was  more  a  dream  than  reality. o You  will  be  bitter. o You  will  cry  frequently  out  of  frustration,  sadness,  and  helplessness.    Dont  worry  I   know  to  keep  tissues.   o Your  nose  will  bleed  astronomical  amounts  of  blood. o You  will  be  fragile.    I  have  to  be  careful  not  to  squeeze  you  to  death,  literally. o Your  strength  and  willpower  will  prevail  even  if  at  times  I  doubt  it. o Cancer  will  weaken  you  physically,  mentally,  and  emotionally.    But  when  you  are   cured  you  will  be  better,  stronger,  a  fighter,  and  more  importantly  a  survivor.    You   will  have  the  strength  to  overcome  any  obstacle. • What  To  Know  For  Myself:       o I  am  not  the  cure. o Cancer  will  take  away  every  aspect  of  my  best  friend.    You  wont  remember  most   of  the  conversations  we  had,  your  actions,  or  the  things  we  did.    You  wont  be  able   to  really  listen  to  my  problems  or  give  me  advice. o Its  okay  to  cry,  be  frustrated,  question  everything,  feel  exhausted,  and  hopeless. o I  will  doubt  my  own  strength,  my  relationships,  my  beliefs,  and  everything  else. o I  will  be  extremely  protective  of  you.           o I  will  experience  a  deeper  level  of  fear  than  I  ever  thought  possible. o When  Im  frustrated  I  need  to  remember  how  much  I  love  you.                   o I  will  need  to  remember  to  breathe,  relax,  and  calm  down. o A  journal  and  iPod  will  be  my  best  friends.    Along  with  ice  cream  and  any  dollar   menu.Well  my  lists  turned  out  a  little  longer  than  I  had  planned  but  you  should  be  able  to  understand  what  it  is  like  on  the  outside  looking  in.    I  just  wanted  to  let  you  know  that  I  admire  your  inner  strength,  your  will  to  persevere,  your  positivity,  and  your  overall  being.    I  couldnt  be  prouder  to  call  you  my  best  friend.143
  10. 10. [1(I)  4(love)  3(you)]Miranda