Scholarship Fall 2023 Winner Parker J. Ryan

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Fall 2023 Schwartz Injury Law Perseverance Scholarship Winner

Parker J. Ryan

Parker J. Ryan

Parker Ryan is the newest winner of our Perseverance Scholarship. He is an undergraduate student at Louisiana State University. In his essay, Parker describes his battle with Ewing sarcoma and the struggles he faced to endure chemotherapy and still excel in his schoolwork.

Read Parker’s Essay:

When I was in the 10th grade, six days after my sixteenth birthday, I felt a bump on the bottom left side of my mouth. Little did I know that this tiny little insignificant little bump would change the direction of my life forever.

When I first felt the bump, I was sitting in the passenger seat of my mom's jeep renegade, messing with my phone and running my tongue on my gums. I did not think much of it then, figuring it was just a swollen piece of gum inflamed. So I went back to playing games on my phone. A few weeks later, I ran my tongue on the same spot that I thought was inflamed. It felt much more significant. I ran to tell my mom about it, and she decided to schedule a dentist appointment the next day.

Once I sat in the chair, the dentists took x-rays and looked at them. She returned to look at me and say, "you need to go to a maxillofacial surgeon today." We went there later, and he scheduled me for a biopsy the following week. He would take half of it out of my mouth and send it to several labs to figure out what it could be on earth. A few weeks later, we were called back and told that I likely had lymphoma. The news I had been dreading, which I thought was the worst news I would get, could not have been more wrong. The following week he removed the other half and sent it away also to have it tested. After six months of stress and sending the sample to four different labs to have It tested, we finally had an answer—Ewing sarcoma. Ewing sarcoma is a bone and soft tissue cancer with a 33 percent survival rate if it is allowed to metastasize.

Thankfully it was not metastasized yet. However, I would still have to undergo chemotherapy. The treatment was nine months of grueling chemotherapy. During this time, I had to be isolated because my white blood cell count would be too low, and if I had gotten so much as the common cold, I would have been hospitalized. Also, I would have to go to the hospital every week and get an Iv in the chest where my port was. Once a month, there would be a week where every day, I would have to go in and be on the god-forsaken Iv for 24 hours for five days. When I would get out, I would be out of sleep or in pain for days. Instead of being out of it for a day or so on regular weeks, I would only go in for a day or two, making me barely able to move or talk because of how draining chemo was.

During this time, the effects of chemotherapy were horrible. During the week, I had an iv in my chest. I could barely eat because I would develop sores in my mouth that bleed and were horrible to eat with. This is assuming that I was not uncontrollably vomiting from nausea, which for me that week was not an uncommon occurrence. Another thing during that week would be that the drugs I was on would cause me to hallucinate. To name a few of the things I saw and thought: I saw my dead grandfather who was yelling at me; I thought I had lost a cow; we did not have any cows, and I felt that I was in Germany, China, and Saudi Arabia all at the same time on one particularly bad trip. Once I would get done hallucinating on the final day of the week, I would usually fall into pits of despair where I would talk about killing myself. The following day I would wake up and only be able to remember the feeling of the previous night. The sores in my mouth would usually take at least four days with no chemotherapy to heal enough were I would not be tearing up from the pain of eating. On top of this, I could barely stay atop my school work During this time. Thankfully I was doing online school, which allowed me to get two weeks of work done in one night which was the only way I could stay on top of my grades.

However, thanks to this, I want to go to medical school, which will give me a chance to help other people and, hopefully, kids through horrible situations like this. This experience taught me how to be disciplined and has taught me the lesson of carrying your cross, and no matter how sick you are, you have to be able to rely on yourself to power through to get all of your responsibilities like school and tests done on your own no matter how much pain you are in. This will translate to me in college because I have learned how to schedule things properly. It has increased my ability to focus on one subject for an extended period because I would have to prepare time slots of like 8-12 hours of work for one class just to finish that class's assignments and lectures each week, which is the perfect practice for how I will have to study to get through my chemical engineering curriculum as well as how I will have to dedicate my self to study for med-school and the MCAT. Finally, cancer has taught me the skill of persevering through even the most horrific and challenging situations to meet my goals and accomplish hard things in life.

That is how I dealt with cancer and how it has better prepared me for college and has helped to give me an aspirational goal to make, which is to be a doctor.

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