Get Busy Living Award 2017

Presented by StupidCancer

Nominee #1

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Determined, hilarious and awe-inspiring

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?

 "---- happens, whatever life throws at you, just be the bigger person and be willing to go through with what you want to do, not with what life wants  you to do." is one of his living mottos. At age of 16, being a 3 sport athlete in high school playing basketball to 3 days later not being able to move the right side of his body, hearing the dreaded words brain cancer it was just the beginning of his story. Oh how things changed ever so quickly, loosing the ability to swallow and protect his airway, radiation, brain hemorrhage, coma all became reality with in a couple of days. The doctors gathered and spoke in hours not days of how much time on left on Earth. As hours passed the doctors spoke of vegetative state he would remain in again for his very limited time on earth. Fighting to regain his ability to hold his head up, learning to communicate without the ability to speak, to learning to live with the lose of most abilities that you have as a toddler, he did it with his sense of humor. He demanded out of himself he was not going to just sit around and live in the misery that cancer brings. He didn't accept timelines, you will never agains, impossibles that was stated. He fought, he regained, he believed, he dared to dream and dream big, he got busy living not dyeing. Having a front seat view to all the miracles and being able to witness to his heroic battle and will to keep getting busy living was so awe inspiring.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life? 
Get busy living is what he continues to do in every moment of his life. He may have lost his ability to walk, speak normally but he wasn't going to let that slow him down. Refusing to accept the medical reports he fought his way back to be able to graduate on time and enroll in the University of Kentucky. He accepts no excuses to not to get busy living out of himself. He continues to go to school, to fight to regain strength in his physical body as well as mentally. Never letting the fear of failure overcome going after his dreams.

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
Busy living this young man never stops. He is busy living his dreams of being a student and manager at the University of Kentucky. Being a manager of the University of Kentucky men's basketball requires a huge time commitment. His ultimate dream is to become a motivational speaker. He recently did a feature story about his journey the last 5 years for SEC Network, an ESPN channel. Speaking to groups of middle school students showing them it is ok to be different, no matter how bad you may have it or you think you have it there is always a way to make your dreams come true. Inspiring others to be a better person and keep laughing and smiling no matter what your circumstance may be.

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
Having a front row seat on this journey, I am in awe of this young man fight, courage, strength, passion to live, tenacity and his determination to help others. His journey has opened my eyes to the bigger picture outside of my tiny space here on earth. On this journey, my son has impacted every breathing moment of my life. He has shown me God is good no matter what. God doesn't promise you life is going to be easy and he will not take away all the pain and suffering that you have gone or you maybe going through but it is going to be worth it in the end.

Nominee #2

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Awesome, Fearless, Bodacious!

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?

The nominee has turned her adventure with cancer into a mission to help others through organizations such as Stupid Cancer and with her Survival Organs line of well, survival organs! All throughout her adventure she made sure that she was a well-informed patient always asking the tough questions. Knowledge was her power and it helped us, her family, be better able to help her.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
She lifts weights, networks like a boss, runs her own business, volunteers, sketches, paints, takes care of her family, runs a website that is an informative hub for other cancer people, is kind to animals, knits, cooks, reads, learned to ride a bicycle, joined a church, got married, got busy living every single day. Nothing stops this 
woman!

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
The nominee has laser beam focus yet makes everything she does seem like fun and play and not work! She has made it a point to try everything, talk to everyone, to listen and learn from everyone she meets. She realizes that she was put on this planet for a reason so she attacks daily life with zeal and purpose.  She is on a mission to rule the world!

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
The nominee is my sister and she's only 3 years older than my daughter so we always had more of a mother/daughter relationship. I took the news of her cancer much worse than she did! She took time from her treatment to make sure that I was okay, sending me gifts and silly things. I was amazed at her generous spirit but later understood that if I wasn't in a good place, I was not going to be able to help her and she realized this and helped the whole family rally.

Nominee #3

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Strong, Fighter, Amazing

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
She had to learn at a very young age what it is like to be sick and diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her life turned upside down at age 11 and she really couldn't be a kid anymore. She was not allowed to play any contact sports, which she loved, she had never been in a hospital, she had a port-a-cath put in and had to be cautious of it and she just hated needles. She became a fighter and adjusted to being sick, needles, chemotherapy treatments, doctor appointments, surgeries, in and out of the hospital and neuropathy in her legs. She had to grow up faster than most 11 years olds have to. She has become a fighter and a very strong person over the last 15 years.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
She continued to fight the fight and was determined to graduate from college on time, while working two part time jobs and being on chemotherapy the whole time. The month after graduation from college she started her new career as a job recruiter in St. Louis. She moved to Missouri in her own apartment and loves her new grown up life. She works every day and continues to get promotions at her job and has met many new friends along the way. She travels to Chicago every month for two days to participate in a Clinical Chemotherapy Trial that she is enrolled in for the next year.

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
When she was in ICU a couple of days after brain surgery, she said to her dad that she wanted to help all these sick kids that were in the hospital. So, that summer we planned the 1st Annual Golf Tournament in the nominee’s name and she donated all the profit to St. Louis Children's Hospital. She got to pick out some of the new things for the children to play with on the Oncology Clinic. She has continued to give back to the community by continuing to have her annual golf tournaments and donate to several organizations. She is a very loving person with a huge heart that always wants to giving back and help others.

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
When she was diagnosed I was in shock and our life literally turned upside down over night. It was very devastating news at such a young age and I thought how is she going to cope with being in the hospital, having brain surgery, port-a-cath surgery, chemotherapy, missing school, loosing her hair, needles, IV's and not playing any more contact sports. She was so strong and adjusted to what was going on in her life and continued to be a straight A student. It was amazing how she accepted her new life and how God made her so strong, she is our rock. When people would ask her how do you do it, she would say I'm fine because she didn't want to upset her parents. She is the most amazing and strong person that I have ever met in my life! 

Nominee #4

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Positive, Selfless, Assertive

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
Since her original diagnosis, she has never allowed negativity to interfere with her life. During her first encounter with cancer, she had to be home schooled. During this time, she focused on her health and studies. With minimal contact from so-called friends, she triumphed and received a 4.0 her entire sixth grade year. Being secluded from her peers for the, adapting back to public schooling was quite the challenge. Many old friends ignored her presence, bullies kicked her baldhead, and boys threatened to pull out her pick line. Despite others' views on her new appearance, she insisted on informing others "cancer is not contagious." She accomplished this by answering absurd inquires, and proudly displaying herself as a SURVIVOR rather than "the girl with no hair." When the nominee relapsed. Once again, home became her prison walls. Her immune system restrained her from attending her senior year of high school. She was persistent to enjoy her final year of high school to the fullest. At an arranged meeting, with the school, administration her home-school teacher and mother, she was able to convince the them that she should participate in school activities so she could savor her senior year, like normal students. Throughout her three experiences with cancer, the nominee has remained positive. It's phenomenal how she continues to smile despite all that has come her way!!!!

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
The Nominee has proven to keep her health and education her two main priorities. For instance during her third diagnosis, she was enrolled at a local junior college, taking 16 units each semester She contacted her professors and coordinated with hospital staff to have all her assignments faxed to her. Despite her attendance, she was able to pass every course. Miraculously on she gave birth to our son. The idea of children was intangible and unthinkable to her. Our son, was born healthy. At age four, his pediatrician delivered the inevitable news. Like the nominee, our son was diagnosed with A.L.L. Soon after the nominee was once again diagnosed with leukemia. This time, a stem cell transplant was her only option. Upon completion of her SCT, she returned to school, where she earned her degree in communication. Through three ordeals with leukemia, the nominee strived to achieve her education, is raising a beautiful baby boy and promotes her priceless smile. Today, the nominee’s priorities are our son, and her family. She juggles four part time jobs as a tutor and childcare. In face of everyday calamities, she preserves her phenomenal smile.

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
She resembles gravity, she pulls people in. At the local Starbucks shop she frequents, everyone knows her there. She pulls up a chair, grabs her coffee, and inquires how everyone is doing. If something is wrong, she does all is her power to fix it, she is always willing to give her time so others can receive a little joy.

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
Personally speaking, she has showed me a love I have never experienced. I honestly believe she puts our family before herself. She will fast for days if we need to pinch our pockets to pay bills medical bills. I also notice, she always tends to our needs before she situates herself. She is selfless. She shows me on a daily basis, that others' lives matter too and need to be acknowledged.

Nominee #5

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Resilient, Selfless, Determined

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
He was diagnosed with leukemia at a very young age. In some ways his childhood was taken from him because he was ill around the same time most kids his age were learning to ride bikes, swim, and go to school. Despite this, he made it a priority to return to as normal a life as possible. He took an interest in his illness from a scientific perspective at a young age and has used his experiences as a patient and now a patient advocate/researcher to fuel his career ambitions--to help give back to young people with cancer. He has taken something that some may consider very negative and has used it in a positive way to help others.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
He "gets busy living" by doing everything he can for those dealing with cancer. He works directly with cancer patients as a research coordinator for the University of Colorado Cancer Center. In his position he is given the chance to comfort cancer patients after they have learned of their diagnosis, and provide them with the option to participate in research trials that may save their lives. He volunteers for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society each year and has found time to complete two research fellowships in cancer research, including winning a research award to study pediatric cancer by the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Everything he does, he does with the knowledge and intent of improving the lives of those currently coping with the distressing news that he once received.

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
What is so remarkable about him is his generosity. Whether he is fund-raising money for cancer research or donating his time to speak about his experience as a childhood cancer survivor, he never seems to mind giving more of himself if it means helping others in a similar situation. In addition to his incredible generosity, I love his happy outlook on life. He always manages to infuse tense situations with humor, warmth and heart. Rather than spending his days feeling sorry for himself, he enjoys comforting family and friends who are having a rough day with gentle jokes, comedic impressions and funny dance moves. More important than any recognition for himself or the wonderful things he does, he loves when he can make a friend laugh.

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
He has shown me the importance of giving back to the community. He lives every day reminded of how lucky he is and how others may not have the opportunities that he does. Rather than hiding his diagnosis or writing it off as a part of his life he never wants to remember, he uses the memory of his difficulties to power his determination to serve others.

Nominee #6

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Joyful, Resilient, Empowering

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
Throughout her life she has maintained a positive, amazing, inspiring attitude. Post amputation, she played high school sports, excelling. She graduated Trinity College with a BS in psychology, desiring to exploring and understanding her world, while grappling some bigger life experiences. She takes life one cancer at a time, and is constantly looking to get the most out of each and every experience.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
She Gets Busy daily, not only in her career but through her personal life. She lives life conscious of its value. Gratitude and zest flow from this girl! Whether she is volunteering for Paradox sports (an organization that provides adaptive wilderness experiences to people all over the country) or in her current position as a Volunteer Coordinator at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, gives her an opportunity to support others with their desire to excell. In her professional career she organizes speakers on Camp's behalf, raising awareness of opportunities. She does this with compassion and grace knowing first hand how empowering and difficult it is to speak about personal illness. As a speaker she has helped raise support to provide a week at Camp free of charge for countless children battling life threatening diseases. Outside (literally) of work, she was the first female wheelchair hand cycle finisher at the Disney World Marathon in 2013. Joining fundraising with others, she was the first Hands Cycle participant in the wildly popular Ragnar race in 2014- while on treatment for her most recent bout with Breast Cancer. Constantly pushing her own limits, and encouraging others, she lives life as an amazing inspiration. She's basically a bad ass, with one leg, and no limits!

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?:
She does it with a smile! always!  

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
She and I work together, and I have been touched by her optimisms, dedication, support and wisdom. She breeches an important bridge for our organization, proving to our Campers and families that they can persevere. Daily she is a confidant for those tricky, " how do I say this ?" Cancer questions. She shares her knowledge, experience, and humor with everyone she works with.

Nominee #7

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Brave, Proactive, Teammate

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
After several months of exhibiting cold and flu-like symptoms, the nominee was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) before his senior year of high school. He was treated on the Pediatric Oncology Service of the Children's Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Everything was immediately put on hold; he had to miss out on an entire summer of fun with his friends, driving, school, prom, and all the other "typical" high school events that most people remember for the rest of their lives. When it came time to apply to college, he was determined to achieve his goal of attending the University of Maryland. A testament to his strength and determination, he persevered with preparing for the SATs while recovering from a bone marrow transplant on the inpatient unit of Pediatric Oncology at Hopkins. Based on this enormous disruption in his teenage life, his relationship with his friends changed completely, and he considers himself to be a completely different person after his life-altering battle with cancer.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
He never let his diagnosis define him or put limits on what he was capable of. Instead of putting dreams of college and adventure on hold, he spent his five months in the hospital on preparing for the SATs and filling out applications. Instead of resenting the friendships lost after entering the hospital, he took the initiative to forge lifelong bonds with other high school students in treatment, and encouraged them to take part in adventures ranging from weekend camps to running groups around the hospital. Less than a year after his bone marrow transplant, he took a chance and joined the Baltimore Cancer to 5K team, for his first 5K race. Now a sophomore at the University of Maryland, his sense of adventure and fearlessness has led him to take on the 4K for Cancer, a 4,000 mile cycling journey from Baltimore, MD to Portland, OR. Over 70 days this summer, he will cycle across America, uniting communities in the fight against cancer along the way. He is committed to raising awareness of the unique challenges that young adults face when diagnosed with cancer and of the amazing community of support that exists to make sure no young adult will face cancer alone.

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
Throughout the course of his cancer journey, the nominee has displayed independence and bravery in the navigation of his treatment and significant life decisions. His perseverance and adaptability propelled him to transform the challenges and potential barriers presented by a cancer diagnosis into opportunities for growth and personal achievement. Today, he is still completely fearless, and is cool and calm in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Any opportunity that is presented to him, whether it is going to college, running his first 5K, or biking across the country, warrants less than a minute of deliberation in his mind. After facing a life-threatening illness at such a young and pivotal age, he jumps at the chance to be a part of any adventure that may make his life and the lives of other young adult cancer survivor better.

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
The nominee joined the Cancer to 5K team in the fall of 2013, and was immediately "all in." He still faces the future with stoicism and a passionate sense of empathy and perspective. I am thrilled to have been a part of his transformation into the confident, adventurous person he is today, and I am always inspired by his ability to not just survive, but to live fearlessly.

Nominee #8

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Compassionate, Determined, Willing

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
The interesting thing is he always says that having cancer helped him discover the secret to facing adversity, which was completely at its peak with an unexpected cancer diagnosis. The doctors looked him in the face and told him he had an aggressive form of cancer that would kill him if left untreated, he would endure two years of chemotherapy and treatments with severe side effects. One day at treatment, he looked over at me and said, "You know the secret to getting through cancer?  Focus on others more than yourself and your problems suddenly seem really small in comparison." Some days were still really hard and he still had to endure a lot. This wasn't a cure. I think it was his best medicine because I saw the change in his ability to endure the adversity that continued to come his way throughout the two years of chemotherapy.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
One of the biggest disappointments he faced at diagnosis was being told he could no longer participate in some sports and extra curricular activities he really enjoyed. I think this bummed him out more than finding out he was going to go bald prematurely compared to most guys. Then at about 6 months into his treatment plan, a buddy took him to a hockey game to try to cheer him up. He was so inspired by this sport. So right then and there he decided he was not only going to fight like hell to beat this thing but he was going to come back stronger. He watched so many people around him get through it alive but not really alive. They beat the cancer but they let it beat them somehow. He didn't want that. So he said, I am going to set this crazy goal to play hockey. Ice hockey! He didn't even know how to ice skate at the time and the doctors told him no way. So he ordered a hockey stick, a puck, a net, some books off e-bay about how to play hockey and you tube became his coaches and mentors. He would literally get home from chemo, shower and go outside and stick handle and shoot pucks over and over for hours. He would read, study, watch the sport. He learned everything he could off the ice. He said setting this crazy goal gave him something to look forward to, something to dream about and hope for and work towards and he felt alive once again. He was tired of just dreaming of survival so he got busy living right then. And it spilled over into the rest of his cancer journey. He began to live again and not just hope to live. Life wasn't over and he didn't want to act like it was until the day or minute it was.

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
I think he is unique because he has the ability to not only endure and face adversity but he also has the ability to inspire others to get busy living and face their struggles. He encourages others to look beyond their current circumstances in a way that is effective. When I watch someone walk up to him and tell him they are a better doctor, or CEO, or business owner, or athlete because of him or his story I know he is unique. Many people can and do make their own lives better but he has somehow made others want to live better lives.

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
Well, as his caregiver I witnessed all of the above and there is no way to see this up close and personal and not be affected. I faced a horrific and unexpected trial of my own and he was a huge reason I was able to get through it. It also always impacted me how people reacted to him or assumed his strength. 

Nominee #9

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Strong, loving and committed.

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
When she was a junior in college she was diagnosed with cancer. She took time off to do treatment and after completing treatment was given 2-6 months to live. She did not let this stop her from achieving her dreams. She took her studies home and worked hard during and after treatment to complete her work. She was able to graduate college and then go onto law school. Throughout her journey she has taken one day at time and approached life with a positive attitude. She did not let the statistics for her rare cancer slow her down. Currently she continues to live with her cancer, which is in stable condition, but is considered chronic. She continues to attack life with verve and an outpouring of love to those around her, regardless of her cancer status.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
This person gets up everyday and continues to move forward no matter the obstacle. She works hard to give back to her community and to the cancer community. She has recently had more health setbacks with a rare vascular condition. She was able to take her treatments in stride and continue to work, volunteer and be a foster mother. She does not waste time and works very hard to maintain her health and her commitments to her family and the community.

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
This person is very unique in her "get busy living " activities by giving back to those in her community with or without cancer. She and her husband provide a safe and loving home for children in foster care in their community. She recently went back to a full time law practice and has been acting as an advocate and Guardian Ad Litem to children who do not have their own voice in the legal system. She also does takes on free legal cases when time allows. She volunteers for Stupid Cancer and helps promote and put on events in her home state and has been the chairperson for her local Relay for Life event. She is also an active ACS CAN member helping advocate for cancer survivors and caregivers on a legislative level. She has also started a support group on Facebook for survivors and caregivers of EHE worldwide and provides individual support for members of the group. Most importantly she maintains a positive attitude, continues to be a supportive foster mother and strives to make the most out of everyday, leaving the world that much better at the end of the day.

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
This person has been a great source of support and inspiration. She has taught me that no matter the adversity life throws at you, there is a way to continue to live each day and live it well. She continues to be a huge source of support to my family as we have been walking down the path of trying to create a family. Her positive energy and support have helped me believe in myself, when I was struggling to find my own self worth. She has this quality of making you feel as if you and your story are the most important in the world and that kind of unconditional love and support have been a buoy to my spirits on many occasions.

Nominee #10

If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be? 
Passionate, Loving, Energy

How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
She had just finished her first year of teaching when she was diagnosed, and was in the process of changing schools. She had to talk to her new boss the first day of work and request time off for surgery, and then, a year later, had to do it again with chemo and radiation. During treatments, she kept working as much as she could, but also spent time with family and friends, taking trips to the "tourist" places near her home that she had never taken time to go to. Just a few months after she completed her treatments, her mother passed from colon and lung cancer, and a year later, her grandmother also passed from cancer. This led her to search for ways to help others dealing with cancer, which led her to volunteer with the American Cancer Society, and now her interest in Stupid Cancer. Now, she is facing some challenges with long-term side effects, and after a bit of prodding and help from the Stupid Cancer family, she is using accommodations and doing well! When she hits a roadblock, she find a way around it, and then a way to help others do the same.

In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
She doesn't let anything get in the way of what she wants to do. She travels during the summer to see the country and attend workshops on things she is passionate about. She has been working this year on a curriculum committee to write curriculum for teaching computer programming to kids who are blind. She has just finished her second master's degree and she is already looking into PhD programs. She is a Girl Scout leader for two troops, one being made of girls who are blind. When they changed programming a few years ago, they were not going to make materials available in braille. She supported her girls in writing letters and calling Girl Scout officials to get the materials they needed. She has really jumped into connecting others to Stupid Cancer. She takes time for herself, too. Planning trips and activities to spend time with others. Sometimes the trips are to Civil War reenactments or Renaissance fairs in a near-by town with friends or trips across the country to spend time with family in Florida.

What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
In college, she learned about servant leadership, and how to build others through service and making them great leaders. She does this in every aspect of her life. She devotes most of her time to helping others make the most of themselves. She turns her challenges, and what she has learned from them, around to help others. 

How has the nominee impacted you directly?
Three years ago, she agreed to by my wife! She has shown me strength, and that you can make it through some pretty trying times. She has helped me find things I am passionate about, and supported me in them, even if it wasn't her first choice for "a good time." She helped me go back to school and get my teaching certification. And most recently, I have been dealing with a possible cancer diagnosis for about a year, and she has been there for me. Helping me understand test results and medical-eese that no one ever understands.

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