A College Guide for Childhood Cancer Survivors

A College Guide for Childhood Cancer Survivors (382)

(NewsUSA) - At 14 years of age, Chase Meacham of Columbus, Ohio, became a survivor.

He survived a cancer diagnosis of osteosarcoma, a malignant bone tumor that attacks youth during their budding adolescence. He survived 35 rounds of chemotherapy, five surgeries and a relapse. As Meacham says, he was tremendously lucky.

"I emerged from the darkness and the blackness and, to my great surprise, found a world that was a thousand times sweeter than the one I had left," said the 20-year-old Meacham, who now has a titanium prosthetic supporting his left knee. "For the first time in my life, I was able to treasure each day. I could see things now; I could see just how wonderful it was to be able to walk, unbound by [wheel] chair or walker or crutches or cane."

Like many childhood cancer survivors, Meacham realizes survivorship is a journey that lasts a lifetime. Through advocacy work he continues to impart his intimate knowledge to others facing a lifetime battle with cancer, and he was one of 32 recipients to win a Beyond the Cure scholarship from The National Children's Cancer Society (NCCS).

Among the many difficult steps that Meacham took after his treatment, going to college presented new challenges and rewards. To help parents and soon-to-be students with the transition, NCCS (www.thenccs.org) compiled advice from other survivors:

* Be realistic about the college completion timeframe. It takes the average student five years to finish college these days -- even if they face none of the issues of a cancer survivor. Consider course requirements, course sizes and curricula and, if necessary, take five to six years to graduate.

* Choose instructors with teaching styles that complement your learning style. Whether you thrive off class discussion, group work or individual face time with professors, ask academic advisors about compatible teachers.

* Consider health insurance coverage. Even if it's been years since any tumor growth or relapse, you will always need health insurance. Some universities offer coverage plans, which can be a viable option.

* Get acquainted with other students with disabilities. Being able to relate to someone going through similar struggles can help survivors navigate problems and know what to expect.

To learn more about the Beyond the Cure scholarship program, or if you're just looking for some support, visit www.beyondthecure.org.

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