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Success is determined by those who prove the impossible, possible. James W. Pence

By exercising leadership over our destiny we can choose how we endure our most difficult challenges and actually use them to aid others in rising above their obstacles. An individual who demonstrates this beautifully is Nicholas Marriam.

As a six-year-old, Nicholas had a difficult time breathing, went to the doctor and learned that his lung had collapsed and his heart had been pushed dramatically out of position. It was discovered a tumor was growing from the base of his throat all the way down to his stomach. Nicholas was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma.

He was just the 6th case of a child in his geographical area to be diagnosed with this form of cancer; Nicholas would become the first to survive. The fight to live began immediately. This little boy would endure countless spinal taps and had a tube inserted into his chest to facilitate chemo every Tuesday for one and half years. He spent 172 days in the hospital during the first year!

Through it all Nicholas remained optimistic and hopeful. One reason for his positive outlook was the wonderful support of friends and family. Even at six, he realized how much better he and his parents felt when friends would visit. He also recognized that many of the children enduring similar cancer treatment weren’t as lucky. He was determined that when he got better he would make a difference for the children with cancer who were not as fortunate.

After two years of enduring the treatments, Nicholas was finally strong enough to keep his promise. He and his cousin, Shelby McKnew, began making a difference for kids suffering cancer. The efforts grew from a single toy drive, to bags being dropped off at several hospitals throughout his community, to the creation of a not-for-profit called The Nichelby Project (http://nickelbyproject.org/). This group brings hope to over 1,000 cancer patients a year. Nicholas loves that his visits and gift bags bring joy to the kids with cancer. He also delights in the cheer it brings to their parents.

Nicholas ignored the prognosis of his cancer and determined to live. He and his cousin have ignored the notion that children can’t make a real impact. On his website he writes, “There are a lot of kids who are lonely and sick in the hospital and these gift bags really help, we spend time with some of the kids and they smile and say thanks for visiting. The parents usually cry because they are reminded that people care about what they are going through.” Today, the parents are remembered through the efforts of a boy in eighth grade.

Surviving his cancer reveals Nicholas’ resilience and bravery. Giving back to others proves him to be an outstanding individual, a wonderful role model, and an ideal example of someone who exercised leadership in regards to his own situation. Nicholas overcame impossible adversity to survive cancer; he continues to ignore the impossible by utilizing his shining spirit in encouraging other children with cancer and their parents to do the same.

The choice of ignoring the possibility of impossibility is always ours.

John O’Leary, Rising-Above.com

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