After surviving two cancers and a bone marrow transplant (BMT), it was finally time to start school at the University of Minnesota. I worked so hard to graduate with my high school class, just to have to defer college and start a year late. At first, I felt behind in life so my mom suggested that I rush a sorority. I felt optimistic and put on my best attitude to go forward with meeting new friends that would hopefully be more mature than those from high school.
With my short hair and steroid induced body, the words “cancer girl” were tossed around a lot starting when I was fifteen. I thought this experience would change that and people would see me for Taylor. My hopes went downhill fast. I commute to school so I found myself offering rides to girls on campus to get to our weekly meetings. Unfortunately, I turned into their chauffer and was really only approached if someone wanted to cry about cancer while under the influence. Don’t get me wrong, I love educating people and talking to them about cancer, but it was getting tiring to have that be my only topic of discussion. In addition, I wasn’t interested in going to parties or drinking, so that knocked down two more areas of possibilities for interaction. I ended up resigning after 1 year. I understand that it’s hard to make friends with the “cancer girl.” But I’m still human.
I decided to start my sophomore year with a clean slate by petitioning the School of Nursing. I wrote a letter to the dean to request permission to apply for the Twin Cities campus, because as of 2016, all transfer students must apply for the Rochester campus. I was unable to enroll in the freshman guarantee program in 2015 as I was receiving my life-saving bone marrow transplant.
Most of my high school friends wanted to get as far away from Minneapolis as they could. Before my first diagnosis, I was considering California and wasn’t sure what I wanted to go to college for. Now, having been through a life-threatening disease twice, I’m afraid to be away from my family and hospital for extended periods of time. I sent the dean a letter in May 2017, with the understanding that my request may never be opened. The letter reads as follows:
“I am making this request to begin my nursing career at the Twin Cities campus because I am still recovering from my BMT. I receive follow-ups at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and with various other medical providers in the area. It is crucial for my continued recovery to remain local and surrounded by my support system. I live in the Twin Cities metro area and have been commuting to campus…”
In July, I received an email from the Assistant Director in the Student and Career Advancement Services Office in the School of Nursing to set up a meeting to talk about the BSN program. This meeting progressed to a second meeting with the Coordinator of Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions. They told me they would accept my request to stay in the Twin Cities if I wrote a good essay and met all the requirements.
These meetings boosted my self-esteem and helped me realize that I am not falling behind in life. I know exactly what I want to do and have devoted more hours to studying for classes than I ever have before. I am determined to get accepted into this amazing program and further my education with a higher degree once I graduate. I feel that as a two-time cancer and BMT survivor it is my responsibility to advocate for and pursue a career in healing children and young adults. I will be giving back to the community that saved my life.
I submitted my application. Wish me luck!
Taylor is a two-time cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor. She is in the President’s Emerging Scholars Program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where she is working towards her career in pediatric oncology.