When Ra’Quan was 12 years old, he did not understand what having cancer meant, so when his mom told him that he had a bone tumor, the severity of the situation did not immediately strike him.
That was in 2009 and at the time he was a seventh-grade student. One of the difficult realities of cancer for Ra’Quan was being forced to take a full year out of the classroom to be homeschooled while he underwent treatment. Like many kids would, Ra’Quan initially enjoyed a break from classes. Soon, though, he began to miss his friends and feel bored and isolated at home.
Ra’Quan did not miss an academic beat, keeping up with his schoolwork during treatment. Despite that, homeschooling was simply not the same as having friends by his side as he faced his fight against cancer.
When he returned to school, he was not the only one who was excited.
“I got a big reaction from my classmates when I walked back into class,” he said.
Although the moment was joyful, Ra’Quan still had challenges to face as a result of his cancer. Lasting side effects caused him to miss more school, including dealing with a broken arm as a result of his weakened bones.
Everyone deals with the challenges of cancer differently, and Ra’Quan found inspiration and happiness in the music of his favorite artist, 50 Cent.
Cancer disrupted his adolescent years, taking away the carefree nature of that time that most children are able to enjoy. Despite these obstacles, he was able to graduate from Middle Early College High School with his classmates.
He was also able to discover Camp Good Days – a camp for patients and family members whose lives have been touched by cancer. While there as a camper, Ra’Quan said it was comforting to meet other children going through similar experiences. Last summer, he returned as a counselor and gained insight into the struggles family members face as well.
During his adolescent years, Ra’Quan didn’t just learn about cancer. In a way, cancer helped him to learn more about himself.
“I think I matured a lot and I think I became a lot nicer from that experience,” he said.
Ra’Quan recently graduated from Erie Community College with a degree in general studies. He hopes to pursue a career in fashion design and merchandising and says that one day, he wants his name to be on everything he wears.
He now lives by the motto, “Adversity breeds champions,” as his childhood battle led him to be a stronger adult.