Jason - Yorba Linda, California
Entered on November 28, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Many people are faced with life-changing situations that alter their views and perceptions of the world and the people that influence their daily lives. Until a few years ago, I had been blessed with the luxury of leading an “average” life that was virtually uninterrupted from the every day routine. The daily grind of school and work was everything to be expected from a young college undergraduate student. However, tragedy struck my immediate family in the form of cancer. My mother was diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of forty-two which undoubtedly changed my outlook on life as well as my appreciation and respect for the loving support I received from the individuals in my life.

I believe that affection and encouragement saves lives. In my opinion, I have always thought of myself as a hard-working individual that takes pride in the idea of perseverance and the ability to never give up despite any circumstances life has given me. My mother helped to instill in my mind the passion and drive necessary to persist through all life has to offer.

In the face of adversity I cannot help but recall my childhood hero—professional baseball player Cal Ripken, Jr.—who displayed incredible hard work and perseverance during his implausible record-breaking streak of 2,632 consecutive games played. During this amazing stretch, Ripken experienced many obstacles (injuries) that acted as potential road blocks, and that would have caused great detriment to his team as they would lose one of their most valuable players.

When my mother was diagnosed with this horrible disease, I viewed it as an obstacle of great misfortune. After all, the person who had taught me everything about strength and will power was suddenly in a state of near-defeat and seemingly helplessness. The encouragement and affection I received from the loved ones in my life helped me to pass on the idea of perseverance to my mother in her dreadful condition. As a result, she was able to conquer the treacherous ailment and has lived a life of happiness ever since.

I think it is important to embrace the friendships and family relationships we possess, and to always do our best to help those that are dear to us. I sometimes find myself so wrapped up in my own life, and in turn, disregard those who have brought great influence upon me. I am admitting that at times I am not the most considerate person, and that my first instinct is to accomplish everything on my own. However, I have recently realized that life is impossible without guidance and companionship.

Hard work and perseverance are intrinsic characteristics that will take you a very long way, but affection and encouragement are necessities that that come from without that must be present lead a true life of happiness.