Life for me has been far from easy. I’ve had one struggle after the next, but I refuse to let those struggles define me negatively. Instead I take those struggles and learn from them.

I had a normal, fun childhood. I was raised on a farm and was always getting into things with my little brother. From sunrise to sunset we were my daddy’s little shadows helping him care for the animals and land.

When I turned twelve everything changed for my family. My daddy was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was given only a short time to live. What could have brought my family down only made us stronger.

For the next year I watched the strongest man I knew fight with everything he had. He never once questioned his cancer. Instead he decided to use his diagnosis as a teaching tool for his three kids. He taught us that life gives you bad situations, but you should never give up. What he taught me in that year alone I will never forget and I will cherish forever. On October 29, 2006 my daddy passed away and since that day I have made it my mission to continue his fight by spreading awareness of the disease that killed him.

In high school through my schools HOSA program I was able to do a community awareness project on Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I spent my junior year traveling to area schools and community events to give my presentation. At the end of my junior year we attended the State HOSA Competition and took home first place in the state in the community awareness category! That was the most amazing feeling. Since then I have continued to run a Facebook page dedicated to spreading awareness and touching as many people as I can.

My teenage years were far from normal. After my daddy’s passing my mom’s health began to deteriorate and at the age of fourteen I began taking on the head of household duties. When my peers were out going to parties I was at home taking care of my mom or driving her to her many doctor’s appointments.

In the last seven years my mother has been diagnosed with degenerated disk disease, liver failure, mild pulmonary hypertension, fibromyalgia, and the latest and scariest diagnosis, Alzheimer’s disease.

Like my daddy she refuses to give up. My mom’s sickness in ways has been harder on me because I am her sole caretaker. I go to every doctors appointment, surgery, and procedure by myself. I hold her hand and tell her everything is going to be okay even when the doctors say otherwise. I know the rest of her life will be hard, but I know that our family love is strong and will get us through all the rough paths we come to.

Even though my personal life is taking a hit my professional life is finally starting to look bright. When I first started at JSU I was a lost Biology major. Last year I last minute changed my major and since then I have been happier than ever. I finally look forward to coming to school and learning. I joined the PRSSA and finally found an organization filled with others just as enthusiastic as I am. In May I started working at WLJS and just recently started my own country music specialty show. After five years I have finally found my place and voice at JSU!

I don’t know what tomorrow holds for my family and myself, but I know we can take it. We have never given up and I refuse to let us give up now. Each negative thing thrown in our direction has taught me so much. I’ve learned that you may have every reason in the world to give up, but you should never let life win that easily. I’ve learned that at any moment you can receive life-altering news so you should live every moment to it’s fullest. I’ve learned that I am stronger than I ever knew I could be. All these life lessons I have learned I hope will one day inspire someone to do the same as I have done- never give up and keep going.