Song K.

Second Place Winner

It was an enthusiastic recommendation from a grade-school friend that had me perusing the library shelves on a Friday night, where I picked up a copy of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper for a weekend read. My eyes, immediately drawn to the short summary on the back cover, scanned the words, resting briefly on the word leukemia. Even at 12 years old, I was no stranger to cancer. My fourth grade year was one of loss, and the unforgiving disease that stole my grandmother away from our family was cancer. Even before I read the first words of the book, my mind conjured up images of the sterile white and standard blue walls, the IVs and protruding tubes, and my grandmother's swollen eyes leaking fat tears as our family gathered at her bedside.

With these images lingering in the back of my mind, I dived headfirst into Picoult's dynamic tale, enthralled by the depth of detail and hint of truth that encapsulated the lives of a family suffering from the vindictive clutches of a disease that is yet incurable. I felt connected. In my mind, My Sister's Keeper was not fictitious in the least; it was real to me, capturing the emotion and struggle of my grandmother's fight for both her and our family. I was also convinced that it rang true for the millions of families affected by this disease. The smallest plot details had me shedding tears - Anna's love and admiration for a sister much weaker and more dependent than herself, Sara's desperation to save her daughter, and Brian's silent strength as he watches his family succumb to the clinical madness that is cancer. Through it all, Kate fights for her life. But when all hope seems lost, Dr. Chance, Kate's oncologist, guides the family through multiple treatment options with the same determination to keep Kate alive.

To me, Dr. Chance is an admirable figure. Revisiting this book well into my teen years, I have come to realize the magnitude of the responsibility bestowed upon him as a medical professional. Dr. Chance saves lives, and even in a case as hopeless as terminal cancer, he is the one who gives Kate a fighting chance. I am inspired to do the same for those who feel like they have no second chance. Upon reading this book, I have learned that medicine is an avenue of innovation that has the capacity to grow tenfold and combat even the most destructive biological diseases. My dream of pursuing medicine stems from a desire to assist those who are suffering because disease breaks down entire families in stealing a life. Medicine offers a solution to the pain, and though it is far from perfect, it is a field with the potential to claim numerous treatments and cures. And like Dr. Chance, I believe that there is never a losing battle, only struggles not fought.