I was just wondering if you could possibly take a gander at this essay. Thanks a lot! If you cannot get to it by deadline, no worries!
Don Ho 11-30-06
Breasts, skin, prostate and lungs, they all share a common characteristicïthey can be affected by cancer. Throughout my life, I have known of cancer's existence, not just as a rare disease found in National Geographic, but one that millions developed and died from each year. It always seemed to me that the disease was too familiar though, too overly used by popular media and commercials; it numbed me. As long as no one I knew was affected, I could have cared less. This was my naïve attitude before my aunt was diagnosed with cancer.
When I was 12, I received a phone call from my aunt saying that she loved me and would always be there for me. That day I found out she had cancer, more specifically stage four breast cancer. Once again though, my lack of acceptance stopped me from realizing how serious this was. I knew that she was going to recover rapidly from this debilitating disease. Her willpower and strength had to outlast the cancer, she had to because she was raising two boys at the time, one, two years old and the other had just been born. There was no way she could lose. For the next four years, she continuously battled her breast cancer until she lost the fight. The way I see it, her death was not the end of a life but a rebirthing of mine.
When my aunt died of breast cancer, I blamed myself for not knowing enough about it. I had only taken the time to quickly think that she had cancer and that it was a horrible disease. I was never interested or willing to learn anymore about it. I was too self absorbed. As it began to sink in that I had lost a loved one, I would tolerate it no more.
I had no idea where to begin in cancer research. If not for a friend, I would have never discovered the American Cancer Society. My curiosity about cancer soon became a passion as I volunteered constantly for the ACS headquarters based in Silicon Valley. Their mission was threefold: to advocate though government policy, research for a cure, and raise awareness through education.
When I knew I could help in other ways through ACS, I immediately started a club of my own at school to inform others about the dangers of cancer. As the club started to take off, so did I. My growing awareness and knowledge of cancer not only fulfilled me intellectually and emotionally, but also helped me define who I was. It was soon further tested personally in my life. When I noticed for the first time that some of my underage friends drank and smoked, I was not ready to see other loved ones in my life die. Although faced with peer pressure at times to follow suit, the memory of my aunt reminded me that there were better ways to die. The cancer causing substances that my friends were consuming had to be stopped. Therefore, just as I had learned lacrosse and taught others how to play, I also learned about cancer and taught my friends about the seriousness of cancer and the risks of what they were doing.
In the end, I have realized that we are regularly tested in life to become better people. When my aunt died of cancer, it was not for me to stay helpless, but to do something about it. Life is too fragile to waste on being self-absorbed; there is a whole world of suffering.
What a great look into your personal mission and the growth of your character! And well-written, too!
I only saw a few small things as I read through it. Here we go:
"As long as no one I knew was affected, I could have cared less."
OK, I admit it--this one is a pet peeve of mine. I know it's common nowadays to say, "I could care less," but the phrase is actually, "I couldn't care less." Think about it--the first way says you have not reached the limits of caring; the second says you have. I'm stepping off my soapbox now. :-)
"Her willpower and strength had to outlast the cancer, she had to because she was raising two boys at the time, one, two years old and the other had just been born."
This would read more smoothly: "Her willpower and strength had to outlast the cancer; she was raising two boys at the time, a two-year-old and a newborn." Or something along those lines.
"I was too self absorbed."
"Self-absorbed" should be hyphenated.
"It was soon further tested personally in my life."
Does "It" refer to your growing awareness? That's not really clear. And "in my life" is a bit redundant, since you've already said "personally."
"The cancer causing substances that my friends were consuming had to be stopped."
Two things about this sentence: "cancer-causing" is a hyphenated word, and the way the sentence is constructed makes it sound like you want to stop the substances themselves, rather than stop your friends from taking them. A subtle but important difference.
That's all I see. I found your essay very moving. Tragic as your aunt's death was, it has inspired you in ways you might never have considered. I hope your support of cancer organizations will continue, and I wish you the best of luck in all that you do!