Wednesday, June 29, 2011

5 Months to Live: Aaron Knight’s Story

By Pamela J. Wells
Published on 6/29/11

Aaron Knight has vague memories of his life during the first years, which were spent in and out of the oncology ward of the hospital where he underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments. As a baby, from the very beginning of his life, he had a variety of complications that left doctors searching for the cause. They were finally able to diagnose him, when he was 5 months old, with leukemia.

His prognosis was poor. He remembered the doctors telling his mother that he “only had 5 months to live, then they would say 2,” but he surprised everyone when those dates passed him by. When Aaron was 4, his family and him were relieved to hear that he was in remission. Although his mother new that there was a chance of recurrence, it wasn’t until a few years later that Aaron was able to absorb all of it; the fact that he had cancer, survived it, and how significant that was.

Aaron was doing well for about 8 years and then he noticed “a bump on his calf.” When his doctors told him and his family that it was a tumor all of the old fears came back, but luckily, it was a benign tumor. At age 16 he had another scare when he found “a cyst on this earlobe”; however, the good thing was that it turned out to be benign as well.

What little memory he has of his early years are of the times that he spent making cookies, coloring eggs, and playing with the other kids in the oncology ward on Easter. He remembers his mother bringing him hot food from home and giving him eggs to eat, seeing that he did not like the hospital food, she wanted to make sure he was eating. His mother was always there, by his side every day at the hospital. She quit her job so that she could be there for him.

Aaron is now 21 years old, attending Prairie View A&M University, where he majors in political science. He has not had any more scares of tumors since he was 16. He is active in helping and supporting others who have cancer and regularly speaks as a cancer survivor. In his junior year of high school, he participated in the Relay for Life. He now works at the American Cancer Society as a volunteer, which he is very proud of.

Copyright © 2011 Pamela J. Wells. All Rights Reserved

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Inner Strength & Spirit Surpasses All

By Pamela J. Wells
Published June 27, 2011

If anyone knows what it is like to go from the feeling of hopelessness to living a life driven by a spirit and inner strength that catapulted him to where he is today, finding joy and purpose in inspiring others through his story, it is Nick Vujicic.

Born in Brisbane, Australia, Nick grew up with constant bullying at school. Born without arms and legs, he faced what seemed to be insurmountable challenges, not just physically, but challenges with his external environment, the taunting and rejection of his classmates was unbearable. His parents had decided to put him in a public school as opposed to a special school and still, to this day, they feel like they had made the right decision.

Although Nick came from a loving family that supported him, he also felt like a burden to them. He also described how having no arms, hands, or fingers has impacted his life; not being able to wrap his arms around his friends, not being able to hold his loved ones hands, the inability to feel the touch of fingers; and without legs, not being able to walk, run, or dance (Vujicic, 2011). He felt as though his life lacked purpose.

With low self-esteem, depression, and feelings of loneliness, Nick had thoughts of suicide, which led to him attempting it when he was only 10 years old. He rolled over several times in the bathtub attempting to drown himself, but ultimately could not bring himself to do it. He imagined the hurt and pain that his parents and siblings would go through, visualizing them at his grave in tears, blaming themselves.

Despite these challenges, Nick made a conscious choice to live and he rose above those challenges. He went on to complete, not just one, but two degrees in Accounting and Financial planning. He swims and surfs, plays golf and football, skateboards, among many other hobbies. With what he calls his “chicken drumstick,” his small foot, he uses his toes to write, type, pick up things, and to do many other tasks. He travels the world, has met presidents, started public speaking at age 19, and now can be found at motivational speaking engagements with large crowds of people, up to 110,000 at each event.

Currently, he is 28 years old and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He has founded an international non-profit organization, “Life Without Limbs,” and he is an entrepreneur and business owner of “Attitude Is Altitude,” a motivational speaking company that he formed. He speaks to groups of youth, students, teachers, businesspeople, and church congregations inspiring and motivating them to dream big and to move beyond obstacles and circumstances and to take them and turn them into opportunities that they can grow from and help others.

           According to Nick Vujicic:
                  Because I have come to understand that even when the clouds
                  in my personal storm do not part, I can still carry someone
                  else through their storm. If I do not get a miracle, I can still be
                  a miracle for someone else.

Nick has a new book out entitled Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life, which he published in 2010.

Nick’s Websites:
Life Without Limbs
Attitude Is Altitude

Copyright © 2011 Pamela J. Wells. All Rights Reserved

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.