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Madi is a BuckeyeThon Member on our Marketing and Communications team. With the Dance Marathon coming up this weekend, Madi chose to share her story in the hopes that it might serve as inspiration for others in the fight against pediatric cancer.
For the first 5 years of my life, I grew up with three older brothers. The oldest was Matt, and I was constantly spoiled by his protective love and endless piggyback rides. One night, I went to bed not realizing that that was the last time I would see him full of life. I learned the next morning that Matt was diagnosed with cancer and passed away all within a few hours. At the time, I barely understood what “death” meant, let alone how a vicious disease called Leukemia could take my brother away just like that. It didn’t seem fair that I didn’t have him to push me on the swing anymore. It didn’t seem fair that my parents had to plan their own child’s funeral. And it didn’t seem fair that cancer chose such an innocent and potential-filled life to take away.
Being that this happened to me so young, I thought that it would just get easier to deal with as time went on. I found that to be very wrong, as I started to understand and learn more and more about how this affected my family. For most of my growing up, I suppressed those feelings of frustration and confusion. I avoided facing this event in my life because by the time I started to maturely process it, I thought it had been too long passed. Besides my own family, I felt I had no one that would understand or relate to me.
When I joined BuckeyeThon almost 2 years ago, I started to notice I was a lot less alone than I thought. I was able to hear stories of other battles with cancer, but also stories of strength and inspiration. I understood that it wasn’t just my brother’s story, but that cancer in general is just not fair. I became less scared to share my story and more motivated to use my voice for the kids. During my first Dance Marathon final reveal, I realized I was surrounded by thousands of people who have walked such different paths in life, yet for whatever reason, we all end up in the same room with a determination to end pediatric cancer. While I may have initially been For The Kids for my brother, this feeling of unity is the reason I have hope.
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