"Through my survivorship I have finally understood life is sacred," says Josh Ortega.
- 2011-2012 Beyond the Cure scholarship recipient
Life free from the grip of cancer has been one full of unpredictability, excitement and newly acquired knowledge. The life I live now is completely different than what it was before; now I am more aware of just how fragile life is and how much of an honor it is to be alive. If I could ever explain the definition of life, I would explain it exactly how the National Children's Cancer Society has defined it, a journey. My journey away from cancer has definitely been adventurous; I have been thrust into new situations in unfamiliar places in which I have needed to make new friends. Just as explorers are required to adapt to their present surroundings in reaching their goal, so have my "exploration" required familiarity with my new environment. I've leamed that by coping with unfamiliarity, life's paths become exponentially easier to follow.
My freshman year of college has definitely been an example to the change that I have had to endure. After arriving in Arlington to attend a public university that enrolled over thirty thousand students, I admit I felt a bit intimidated. I knew nobody when I got here; the closest person to me was my sister who lived ten minutes away. This new and barren path was a lot rockier and steeper than what I anticipated. In addition to starting of with no friends, the American educational system was an entirely different aspect of learning for me. Competition is strong and there are other travelers on this trail that are far more familiar with it than I. It was not until after the first week when I realized that this newness in my life was only temporary. I needed to stop complaining about the trail and start figuring it out and whom I was traveling with. With this new change of mind, I worked hard at meeting new friends and was beginning get accustomed to this life. I do know that I would not have made it this far if it wasn't for my new friends.
Travelers in their journey often require assistance of some sort, whether it is a map or a guide. Not only was my spirituality my guide, it helped me find friends that I felt comfortable with. The best thing about my new friends is that they will be there for the rest of my life, giving me support for whatever hardships I encounter till the end of my journey. Through my survivorship I have finally understood that life is sacred. We only have one journey to follow, one life to live. It pains me to see people abusing their paths in life; not realizing that they only get one chance to explore it. Another depressing thing that I have noticed is the lack of interest people see in life itself. Complaining is a problem for everyone, even more myself. Every time I complain, I forget about the things that I have been blessed with; I forget that I have been given another opportunity to explore my path before my time runs out. Why complain when there is so much to be grateful for? I hope that cancer survivors will rise up and live out their journey to its fullest, providing a great example to others of how life should be lived; in its fullest and full of enjoyment.
Click here to view Josh's recently produced video, "Take Initiative!"