Congratulations to the 2014 Write Stuff Teen Contest Winners!

January 5, 2015

ESSAYS
Middle School Connected to Someone with Cancer
1st     Alexis Strope, Branded in My Brain  
2nd    Kaycee Whitt, 3:00 A.M. Thoughts
3rd     Lacey Powell, My Story

High School Connected to Someone with Cancer
1st     Kayla Robinson, Forever Inked  
2nd   Christian Hurst, Life of a Cancer Patient's Son
3rd    Beth Godfrey, Oh How She's Missed
Honorable Mention  Olivia Wright, That Awful Tyrant

Survivors
1st     Ellora Amrit, What I Learned From Cancer
2nd   Patrick McSweeney, I Didn't Choose the Cancer Life, the Cancer Life Chose Me
3rd   Abby Langford, Dollywood Nightmare: How Cancer Interfered
Honorable Mention  Destiny H., Out of the Ashes, Burning Like a Fire

POETRY
1st     Carli Meade, The Struggle
2nd   Andrew Holland, Shared Pain, Through Love and Death
3rd   Toi Chandler, Unfortunate Equality
Honorable Mention  Star Johnson, I'm Mixed up Inside

VISUAL ART
1st     Allie Lambert, "Fighter" (Photograph)

When you see that I am the daughter of a breast cancer survivor you, as well as many others, are probably expecting a tear jerking story to go along with my artwork.  Sorry to disappoint you, but my cancer journey is not typical.

First off, I do not refer to my mother as a "survivor".  My mother didn't just "survive" cancer. My mother kicked cancer in the rear end and told it to get the heck out of her life!  My mother is not a "survivor".  My mother is a fighter. She never missed a day of work unless it was to get chemo treatment, and even then she was at work the next day. She never let anyone see her weakness. She didn't let anyone see that the cancer was tearing and wearing her down. My mother fooled everyone, including her family, and including herself. She made jokes throughout her whole treatment and I never saw a smile leave her face.  Her attitude from beginning to end is what my inspiration is for my artwork. She never moped around or cursed God for what had happened to her. She is the most inspirational woman I know. She took what was handed to her and kicked it in the butt with a smile on her face while she did it.

My mother is my inspiration to do the best with whatever life hands me.  I can only hope to be half the woman she is today and was through her entire journey.

2
nd    Felicity Cash, “How She Affected Me” (Painting)

My piece, "How She Affected Me,” shows how my grandmother's cancer has affected my mother, and in turn, me. In the winter of 2009 we had one of the worst ice storms in Kentucky's history. This was also the same year that my mother found out that her mom had breast cancer. We would visit my grandmother at the hospital at least once a week, and every time her condition seemed to be getting worse. My mom was constantly up and worrying, and though she tried to hide it, I would hear bits and pieces of her conversations on the phone. This would cause me to stay up and worry as well.

However, when the weather got better, my grandmother's condition started to as well. Slowly, the doctors would tell us that she was getting better, or that she didn't have to be in the hospital much longer. Our family became happy again when we heard this news, and though my grandmother still has cancer, she is fighting through it. We still visit her almost every week, but this time it’s not at a hospital. It's back at her house, where we get to hear funny little details and stories of when my grandmother was raising my mom.

3rd    Tryphena Sithu,  “Faith, Love, and Hope” (Drawing)


After getting married and having her first son, my mother's cousin, Julie, got in a terrible car crash and had several injuries. Her brother was driving the car at the time, and though the crash was not his fault, Julie flew out of the back seat and hit the dashboard at the front of the car. From the impact, several metal plates were put into her face to restore the structure of her face. In addition, metal rods were put inside her legs. Julie's brother and one-year-old son, who were passengers, received minor fractures in the legs and arms, and the stranger who ran into their car died instantly.

Four years later, Julie had her second son. Upon his 9-month birthday, another problem arrived. Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer and was told to start chemo right away. One year before this, pain was felt in the breast as doctors suspected this normal pain part of breastfeeding, allowing the disguised lump to grow larger.

Last month my mother visited Julie in New York to be a help through the situation. Calling my mom from Louisville during her visit brought me joy, hearing Julie's children screaming with laughter and happiness in the background because of the fun they were having with my mom. I then conversed with Julie, hearing the gratefulness, perseverance, and faith in her voice and attitude, knowing that everything will be fine despite the struggle and pain.

Even though I have never met Julie in the past decade, she has inspired me to do the same, as a true woman of determination. My art portrays this with her picture in the center, surrounded by the qualities she represents to me, and the pink breast cancer ribbon. Whenever a situation arises of difficult time, I can always look back on her as a role model.

Honorable Mention  Shivani Nellore, “Spark” (Painting)


Before I went through the cancer journey with my mom and my whole family, I really didn't understand how cancer could impact a person. I never understood how many emotions it could lead to. Cancer was the spark.

In this painting, I depicted the tree as the tree of emotions. One branch leads to the next. The fire, or what I call the spark, in the middle of the tree represents cancer. The background is dark because I wanted to represent that this tree of emotions was new to me, and the spark was the only reason that it started to glow inside me.  The spark started to "run" up the tree of new emotions. The red veins represent emotions that were dark and angry.  The yellow veins represent emotions that had hope and love in them. The single vein that ran to the roots was the deepest emotion that I experienced/ learned: how to care.

Before, cancer seemed like an issue that was overrated, and I really didn't care, because it happened to other people. My grandmother had died of non­Hodgkin's lymphoma, but it was before I was born, so I was not directly affected by it. When I saw my mother going through it, it was different. That's why all these emotions are in the dark.  Now as the spark begins to light up the tree it opens me up to one emotion I never had for other people: caring. It was like a beacon to my dull world.

So I wanted to show that even if cancer seemed like a raging fire, it helped me experience all these emotions I never had. It helped me feel more complete. I realize someone can go through a lifetime without experiencing any deep, all  altering emotion, I look at this spark, that lit my fire to make me a passionate, caring person.

Gilda

Free and open to all people living with cancer and those who love them.