Making kids smile...if only for 28 pages.

April 25, 2023 3 min read

Written By: Joseph Gaccione

College is a goal many kids aspire to reach, but what happens when cancer alters your charted course? How much more difficult is it to achieve higher education while recovering physically and financially? For cancer survivors like Bri Marsden, affording college can be a daunting task.

Bri, a volunteer for Critical Care Comics, was 18 years old when she was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Of course, it’s never a good time to find out, but for Bri, news came at an impressionable time in her life. “I started going through the diagnostic process a week before I was supposed to be going to college for the first time.” She was forced to drop out of college after her treatment began and started back up again in community college a year later when chemotherapy ended.

As Bri knows all too well, it's hard enough battling cancer as you grow up, but treatment options can take a toll financially as well as physically and emotionally. Fortunately, there are resources available to help offset the costs of higher education for cancer survivors.

Critical Care Comics volunteer as Raven
CCC Volunteer Bri as her character, Raven. 

One such resource is scholarships for cancer survivors. There are many organizations and foundations that offer scholarships specifically for cancer survivors, including Critical Care Comics. These scholarships can help cover the costs of tuition, books, and other expenses associated with college. Some popular keywords for scholarship searches include "scholarships for cancer survivors," "cancer survivor scholarships 2022," "childhood cancer survivor scholarships," and "scholarships for leukemia survivors."

It's important to note that financial assistance is also available for cancer survivors. Some organizations offer financial aid to cover the costs of cancer treatment, while others provide assistance for education-related expenses. When searching for financial assistance options, some popular keywords include "financial help for cancer survivors" and "financial assistance for cancer survivors."

Zack Goodwin, executive director of UNLV Financial Aid operations, offers institutional, state, and federal funds to help prepare students for a variety of financial assistance situations, including healthcare. As a cancer survivor himself, Goodwin empathizes with those who are dealing with the financial burden of cancer treatment. “I feel like for most of those families, the fact that they're there at all is because they're doing what they can do to work toward their child's future and believe that there is one, or if nothing else, feel like they can't have life just stop,” he said. Though Goodwin was diagnosed as a young adult, he entirely sympathizes with people who had to deal with cancer at a much younger age. “You really don't have necessarily that much together in your life and you're still figuring a lot out,” he said. “It's hard for me to fathom having that experience on any level when you're eight and don't really grasp exactly what's even happening to you.”

Critical Care Comics volunteer with patientBri visiting a young hospital patient with gifts.

Goodwin emphasized the importance of being upfront and honest about your financial situation when applying for financial aid. Financial aid offices consider the whole scope of a family’s financial status when reviewing applications for aid, including medical expenses related to cancer treatment. It's important to not be intimidated by asking for help and to take advantage of all available resources.

Whether you're looking for scholarships or financial assistance, it's important to remember that there are resources available to help cancer survivors achieve their goals. As Bri notes, finding resources to help, whether it’s financially based or adjusting your outlook to not compare your situation to others, can make all the difference. Don't be afraid to reach out and take advantage of the resources that are available to you.

In conclusion, affording college as a cancer survivor can be a challenging task, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. There are organizations and foundations that offer scholarships specifically for cancer survivors, as well as financial assistance programs to help offset the costs of cancer treatment and education-related expenses. Don't be afraid to reach out for help and take advantage of all available resources. With determination and support, you can achieve your goals and pursue your dreams, even in the face of adversity.

Learn More About Critical Care Comics

Ryan Green
Ryan Green

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