My dad’s chemotherapy treatments affected his physical and emotional health, no two days the same. Despite years of chemotherapy, the cancer had spread throughout his entire body. Our oncologist suggested a stem cell transplant as a last hope. We all remained optimistic. My dad’s body rejected the stem cells after several days, and he was back to chemotherapy. There was nothing left anyone could do to help him. Due to the amount of pain and trying to ease the burden to our family, my dad took his own life on June 26, 2015. My dad left us all written notes on index cards that day. I still ask the question, why us and why him?
Friends and family helped us organize his funeral service at no cost at one of the local churches. I remember asking my mom (who is on permanent disability due to multiple sclerosis) that week, if she would have to go back to work. She told me not to worry about money and to just be a kid. Being so young, I was unaware of the financial burden this journey had placed upon our family but how does one place monetary value on time?
My dad had no life insurance. At the age of 34, he was denied a policy, due to a kidney ailment. He was listed as “uninsurable.” Without the security of life insurance, our family changed our spending habits and sold many assets such as our motorhome, boat and even my dad’s car, due to the debt incurred from treatment. While this may seem practical, it was hard selling these assets which all had a good memory or story attached. I contributed in a way that only a 12-year old could at the time. I sold personal possessions at garage sales, learned how to flip sneakers and clothing and did various jobs for family members to help my mom. In the next few years, I got jobs refereeing and tutoring at my Boys & Girls Club. I was learning the value of money.
Today, as I reflect on seven years ago, I realize that I had learned a new word in 2015, resiliency. While I cannot afford a four-year university like many of my friends today, I manage to self-finance my education through scholarships and grants. I am currently a full-time student at Moorpark Community College working towards my Associate’s Degree and will pursue a Bachelor’s degree in business at California State University Northridge (CSUN) in 2023. The “Life Lessons” scholarship by Life Happens will help me sustain my continuing education and I greatly appreciate your time and consideration as a recipient and ambassador.