Goldman, Sarah Brown

I truly believe my pappaw guided me to this scholarship opportunity and let me tell you why. Up until five years ago, I was the granddaughter of a superhero. In my eyes, my “Pappaw” was invincible. He had physical strength; he played golf weekly and worked long hours on the lawn in the blistering heat. Among others, his superhuman qualities included wisdom, compassion, humor, humility, selflessness, pride, dignity, integrity, success, and trustworthiness. He was the family rock. The summer before my sophomore year of high school, eveything changed. He was diagnosed with grade 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme. He was given 4-6 months to live. They did surgery immediately and removed what they could, but it never was the same. After the surgery, he NEVER fully recovered. As could be expected with the nature of brain surgery, my Hero was changed forever. He never fully physically recovered, but even worse, he lost his sense of self. As was typical of him, he outlived his prognosis well beyond was expected. Still, he was constantly in an out of the hospital. He lost his ability to play golf and travel. He was stripped of everything he ever loved and any dreams he ever had. Despite five years of life on earth, he died the day he entered the operating room. Ultimately, in pappaw versus disease, disease won. He died this January, and as much as it destroyed us all, we knew he was better off. He was no longer in pain. He was in a better place, living as the Pappaw we all knew and loved. In a parallel universe, I was battling a disease of my own. Less than four months after my grandfathers surgery, I fell victim to an eating disorder. It was not cancer, but an Eating Disorder which overtook my life. Much like a cancer patient, I had no control of my disease. No doctor had the answer. No medicine was the cure. I was fighting a relentless disease and I was doing it alone. Much like cancer patients, I felt hopeless and alone. I felt defeated and scared. I became apathetic and discouraged. I asked God “Why me?” and “Can you Help,” but nothing seemed to change. I struggled for five years, just like my idol. However, I survived. Today, I am proud to finally be able to say, I am in recovery. The process began six months ago. I woke up morning and made the decision to fight. I woke up one morning and made the decision to live. With my parents help and support, I began to regain control of MY life. For me, recovery began with therapy. Like Rhio, I was not satisfied with one single source of help. I searched for more. Like Rhio, I read book after book about my disease and how to combat it. I read journal articles and professional reports. Every week, I asked my therapist if she knew more, had other suggestions. What else could I do to fight this disease. I have recently approached the Dean of my University in hopes of starting a support group for girls struggling with an Eating Disorder on campus. I looked to go for myself, but nothing was offered. I am in the process of finding a university affiliated sponsor, so far, no one “has time.” I tried different medications and visited numerous doctors. Like Rhio, nothing would stop me from reaching my goal, finding a cure. I sometimes got discouraged, I sometimes lagged behind. But I never gave up. Today, I am in a cancer patient’s equivalent of “remission.” My disease may come back, but I will fight again, as I am sure Rhio would have done. As can be seen, this scholarship speaks to me on a very personal level. On top of Builimia, I struggle with school fees, grocery money, and the normal stresses of being a full time student at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville. If nothing else, I hope this essay can open a door for me. I hope to someday be able to speak publicly about my struggles. I wish to educate girls about Eating Disorders. I want to be an advocate and an inspiration. If given the chance, I would be honored to speak to the world and inform them about what it often a misunderstood disease. I want to be for victims with an Eating Disorder, what Rhio always search for. I want to be the light, the answer, the cure.

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