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Grant Winner: Shelby Klingensmith

Shelby, 22, has faced leukemia and carcinoma, and is from Pennsylvania. She shared the following about the grant: "I have worked very hard to get where I am and I give back all that I can. I am perusing a career in hearing health, helping those with hearing loss. I struggle with learning as a result of chemo and radiation, and health anxiety has made it hard to attend certain classes because they are about cancer, disorders, etc. In addition to going to school full time, I work at my school’s dining hall and am currently supporting my mother, who is a victim of addiction. This grant would allow me to be relieved of the expenses of life for a bit, and allow me to focus on what’s really important: education, my family, and most importantly, my health."

Long stays in the hospital as a child got really boring at times. Occasionally, when I was feeling OK after chemo, I would try my best to stir up some trouble. I had received an iPad as a gift and had downloaded some noise apps. It was probably 2 a.m., the graveyard shift for the nurses. Completely quiet and darkened halls made the cancer floor feel spooky. My favorite nurse was working that night. Anyone who has stayed in the hospital knows that there is a cabinet that opens into the hall and into the room for disposal of hospital garments. The cleaners open the outside and take the bin for disposal.

Well, one night, my boredom got the best of me. My mother was asleep, unknowing what her pre-teen daughter was up to. I got up out of my brightly decorated hospital bed, lugged my good friend IV pole, and opened up the two-sided cabinet. I took out the bin and sat down inside with my new iPad in hand. I closed the door, leaving only the IV tubes to give away where I was.

I opened up the newly downloaded scary sounds app and played the creepiest, ghost-like sound. Out in the hall, I could hear some chatter from the nurses, but it suddenly stopped after the soft, ghostly girl voice cried out for her mommy. The nurses questioned each other if what they were hearing was real. It was obvious that I had freaked them out a bit. That short time of thrill ended because of my giggles from the cabinet, growing louder and louder as I continued playing the spooky sound. My favorite nurse opened the cabinet door. I was busted.

They were relieved that a ghost child was not haunting the halls of the pediatric cancer floor and laughed at the shenanigans I pulled. On a floor where every room reeked of bad news and sadness, looking back I am glad I made my nurses laugh that night, even if I may had scared the daylights out of them at first.

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