Why I Signed: Sandra


This Summer’s UN Global Health Summit is our chance to make cancer a global priority. Sign on and tell world leaders to fight the global cancer crisis.

My name is Sandra Hwang. I am 19 years old, I am an undergraduate at Cornell University, and I am a LIVESTRONG Leader. Co-founded by fellow Leader Yuxin Liu, Cornell for LIVESTRONG is the first distinct university-affiliated student organization that seeks to bring the LIVESTRONG movement and its fight against cancer to a collegiate level. I signed the Open Letter in honor of my little brother, David. You, too, can join us.

At nine months old, David was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and a labeled less than five percent chance of survival. As a synopsis, nearly weekly surgical procedures for catheter and bone marrow aspiration, countless treatments for complications and side effects, long nights of fading strength, and the struggle of a young boy and his family all became part of David?s story. Winter passed and spring passed, and time continued on its own indefatigable way as the search for a bone marrow match became a fruitless international chase. Every day of David?s life was a list of numbers, measured and formulated by all those around him?vital signs and blood counts. The numbers, so haunting and so foreboding, filled every mind but his. To this day, the greatest lesson I take from David is that numbers, no matter how ominous, can never overpower self-will; numbers may define outcome, but it is will that defines life.

There was no better way to teach me this lesson than through a miracle?a self-created miracle. It is the miracle of self-love and sunny confidence. It is the miracle of courage despite all judgment, all opposing forces, and all circumstances. It is the night that David walked.

David walked slowly but steadily, with a kind of look in his eyes that overflowed with an unbreakable confidence, softened by a warm, silly smile. The doctors, the attendants, the nurses, and the medical students were gathered in one corner of the room, speaking quickly in suppressed voices as gravity hung overhead. He stood up, and the hasty quarreling dissolved to pieces as all the room fell still with silence, all but the light patter of tiny feet on tiled floor and the quiet squeak of metal wheels. The heart monitor wires dragged behind him, the central line connecting to his chest. David was not supposed to walk. Yet that night, David walked the walk of his lifetime.

So I encourage you ? rather, I challenge you, now, to be inspired. Be inspired by the 28 million living with cancer today with stories left unfinished, and by those stories already written and always remembered. David passed away at 16 months. His story lives on. Understand the odds, but do not fear them. Move forward with the knowledge that numbers may define outcome, but that it is will that defines life. Lastly, challenge your world leaders to do the same. By signing the Open Letter, you bring us one step closer to making cancer a global priority. We need your help.

Remember the miracle of courage, despite all circumstances.

Walk with me.

Sandra Hwang
LIVESTRONG Leader, Cornell University


  1. Luisa Rosas says:

    What a beautiful testimony to your brother’s life Sandra. You and your brother are both such authentic sources of inspiration.

  2. Robin Dennis says:

    What a sad story. There are too many being people fighting this terrible disease as well as too many people whom have lost this disease.

  3. Wayne Rice says:

    it is will that defines life. It is faith, hope, belief that heals in spite of the odds..Don’t focus on the odds, focus on life and will to live and get through this terrible disease…..LLL&L

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