Laurel D.


2023 Scholarship Recipient
Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: Western University
Program: Business (Management and Organizational Studies)

Cancer manages to creep into your life when you least expect it.

My parents, both Chinese immigrants raised in poor rural villages, had worked tirelessly to achieve a level of financial stability that allowed us to improve our living situation in Canada. However, just a few months later, my father's health had rapidly declined due to cancer.

My mother tried to shield me from the severity, but my father was clearly getting sicker every day. Less than a year after his diagnosis, he passed away when I was seven and my sister was 2. I'll never forget the image and sound of my mother sobbing next to his casket, with no family members but us in Canada.

The life insurance my father had was nowhere enough to cover our long-term expenses, and our once-affordable mortgage payments became almost impossible to manage. Consequently, my self-employed mother worked weekends and late nights until 1 AM to pay not only for our family of three but also for my grandmother's healthcare expenses back in China. She always insisted on investing what she could in a RESP so my sister and I could pursue post-secondary education, even if that meant working more to save.

With my mother constantly working, I took on household responsibilities. Instead of playing with friends, I raised my sister and cooked meals while my mom was out. Once I could work, I taught myself marketing and business skills to secure a remote part-time job that aligned with my career goals. This allowed me to invest in my future, support my family, and pursue my passions simultaneously.

I studied hard throughout high school and was accepted into my dream business program with a 98% average. Though the tuition cost was hard to swallow, things were starting to look up again for our family.

But the indifferent cruelty of the universe spares nobody.

Not long after my grandmother's death, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer as a result of years of stress and neglected health, and she'll soon have to take time off work to go through painful chemotherapy. Cancer reared its ugly head once again, threatening to shatter the fragile foundation we had worked so hard to rebuild. Nevertheless, I'll continue to persevere and provide for my family through my education and career. My mother is everything to me, and I'm forever grateful for the life she's given us.

If my father had adequate life insurance, my mother could've spent more time with us growing up and properly grieved my father's death instead of overworking. This scholarship would help bring us closer to a future where financial worries are no longer a constant burden in our lives.

With my education, I hope to secure a meaningful job that provides financial stability and a good work-life balance to allow my mother to finally rest. I’m determined to make a positive impact in the world and bring awareness to how cancer affects our everyday lives by giving back to my community.

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