Kati Ledall runs on pure energy these days.
â€œLife is too short to sit on the couch and have a bad attitude,â€ she said.
Ledall, a CSU junior, was recently awarded a $2,500 academic scholarship for the third time from the American Cancer Society.
â€œI have to apply for it every year, so itâ€™s a good motivator to keep my grades up,â€ Ledall said. She has a 3.74 grade point average.
With her major in human development and family studies, Ledall plans on going into nursing or occupational therapy. To Ledall, being able to achieve this goal is phenomenal â€“â€“ she had her first surgery to treat pilocytic astrocytoma, a type of tumor, at 9 years old.
â€œI have nine cysts with pockets of water in them,â€ said Ledall, referring to the tumor on her brain.
Since her first surgery, Ledall has undergone occasional chemotherapy and additional surgeries over the years. At 20, she is now a medical miracle.
â€œThere arenâ€™t a lot of older children that have survived cancer,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m always being studied.â€
That doesnâ€™t bother Ledall one bit. In fact, she spends much of her time in the very environment that she grew up in.
â€œI think sharing knowledge is awesome. I love talking to people, especially the little kids who have just been diagnosed with something, like leukemia,â€ Ledall said.
Ledall has a huge heart for giving back to her community. After all, one of the requirements for winning the award was demonstrating outstanding commitment to community service.
She has participated in Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagementâ€™s Alternative Spring Break program, helping children with disabilities at Give Kids The World Village in Florida.
â€œI went there with my family as a kid, and I had the most wonderful time,â€ Ledall said.
She also has served as team development chair for the American Cancer Societyâ€™s Relay for Life and currently volunteers at the North Colorado Medical Facility in Greeley.
â€œI like to greet people and help them find their way. Hospitals can be scary. A lot of people walk in with big eyes,â€ Ledall said. â€œI remember how that felt.â€
Cory Pearson, volunteer coordinator for NCMF, says she canâ€™t say enough about Ledallâ€™s contributions.
â€œSheâ€™s like a ray of sunshine whenever she comes in,â€ Pearson said. â€œSheâ€™s worked a variety of positions here and always has a positive attitude and a smile on her face.â€
Ledall volunteers with her grandmother. Pearson notices a special connection she has with elderly patients.
â€œThey all love (Ledall). Sheâ€™s great with the kids, too,â€ Pearson said.
She went on to say that she believes Ledall has such a great attitude because she sees an opportunity from her illness.
â€œShe can relate with other patients, and she has so much support in her own life that it seems natural to her to help others,â€ Pearson said.
â€œI like to keep busy,â€ Ledall said, adding that sheâ€™s served more than 500 hours at the medical facility.
As a fourth generation CSU student, she is studying full-time, serving her community and working at Kohlâ€™s department store. Ledall is not discouraged or run down by her disease.
â€œI still have the tumor and go for MRIâ€™s every six months, but it doesnâ€™t affect me much,â€ Ledall said. â€œItâ€™s a little painful to exercise because of the jarring to my head, but other than that itâ€™s not really something I tell people about right away because, thankfully, Iâ€™m able to completely function.â€
Normally, Ledall appreciates that she can see and drive and basically â€œbe normal.â€ Her attitude is so positive that she considered being able to get through her first year of college while receiving weekly treatments of chemo.
â€œI just knew that I was going to be sick on Fridays and learned to work around it,â€ Ledall said. â€œFamily and faith are huge contributors to getting through this. I just take it one day at a time.â€
Ledall said there is always a 50/50 chance that the tumor will grow again but she tries not to question the possibilities.
â€œI also donâ€™t think I have it nearly as bad as some of the kids who are facing life threatening conditions,â€ she said.
Ledall said that her experience with medical and emotional care she has received over the years has shaped her into a more compassionate person. Thatâ€™s why she enjoys frequenting the Childrenâ€™s Hospital in Aurora, where she goes for ongoing monitoring of her condition.
â€œI just want to offer some comfort to those kids. I like to tell them that I was there once and everything will be OK,â€ Ledall said.
So far, thatâ€™s true for Ledall.
â€œIâ€™m so thankful to the American Cancer Society for all of their support over the years. Having been on the cutting edge of certain medical procedures and now the scholarships. (The money donated to the society) is really working in so many ways,â€ Ledall said.
Medical expenses can drain a family financially, so this scholarship along with many others I have received make education possible for me.â€
Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Kati Ledall
Year/Major: Junior, human development and family studies
Has: Pilocytic astrocytoma, a tumor on her brain
Recently Awarded: A $2,500 academic scholarship for the third time from the American Cancer Society
Volunteerism: Volunteered for Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagementâ€™s Alternative Spring Break program, served as team development chair for the American Cancer Societyâ€™s Relay for Life and currently volunteers at the North Colorado Medical Facility in Greeley