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2015 submissions from the top ten finalists

Essay One

I would have to say that asthma is a significant obstacle in my life so far. It might seem pretty minor compared to more serious health conditions that many others face, but it has had a major impact on my life and how I feel about myself. The condition was first diagnosed on my fifth birthday, when I was admitted into the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital with severe pulmonary (respiratory) problems, where I remained for a week inside an oxygen tent. Needless to say, that was a traumatic experience for a little girl. I was scared, confused and angry that this was happening to me through no fault of my own. The recovery was slow and complicated with medicines, activity restrictions and lots of do’s and don’ts from the doctors. At that time, I can’t say that my ability to cope with this obstacle was very good, and most of my strength came from my family and friends, and yes, doctors as well. They were all there for me – to talk to; to help me understand; to encourage me.

However, asthma is not an illness that can be cured. It’s a condition that stays with you for the rest of your life, and like it or not, it was something I needed to learn how to deal with on a daily basis both physically as well as mentally. I mean, of course I needed to make sure to follow the doctor’s “patient plan” to reduce asthma “triggers” and suppress asthma “events” but I didn’t want the asthma to keep me from participating in activities that other “normal” kids do. What I didn’t understand at the age of five, when it seemed to be the doctor’s and my parent’s responsibility to keep me healthy, and that staying physically healthy was the way to reaching and maintaining my goal of being “normal healthy” and able to participate in activities with all my friends, and not miss-out or be passed over because of my asthma. I had my work cut out for me.

This is where I think that may personal qualities and values come into play in regards to overcoming my personal obstacle. I’m not going to call it bravery, but I think I have, or have developed, an inner strength and determination (maybe fueled by a little bit of rebellion and stubbornness?) that has kept me motivated to if not conquer, then to control the asthma rather than letting it control me. And so, with doctor’s orders and parental supervision I joined and participated in popular indoor and outdoor activities, such as soccer, tennis, drama, dancing, singing and band with my friends. With each passing year I added and/or exchanged activities, and with as much discipline as enjoyment, I grew stronger and more resilient to the asthma.

I can’t say I’ve been entirely successful in the past – like when I’ve forgotten my medication, over-exhausted my physical endurance, or ignored my asthma/allergy trigger; and I’m sure there will be times in the future(especially upcoming college) when I slip up – hopefully not to the point of worrying my parents – or myself. But I know the condition I have and I know what I have to do to keep it from being a significant obstacle in my life. I also know that it means making healthy choices – both physically and socially, and making every effort to stick with them.

I have a wonderful family and great friends that I love to be around. But I am also comfortable with myself(not meaning proud or selfish), and that means I try to make decisions on what I do based on what I think is right or wrong and what is best for me. So far, my choices and interests have worked well – not only with my face-off with asthma, but with other “obstacles” as well. I can be somewhat independent, but I also know the value of family and good friends for sharing and support in good times and when you need a little help, because sometimes, you just can’t do it all on your own.

Asthma is not the only obstacle I face bow, and certainly there will be many in the future. With my personal qualities and values to aid me, I may not become a marathon champion, bu in the long run (of life), I intend to be a winner

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