A couple years ago I met a girl named Moi, a high school student diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma, whose treatment included the most intense kind of chemotherapy. If you want to be inspired, watch this incredibly moving speech she gave to her high school classmates upon re-entering school after a challenging summer of treatment. What inspired me the most was Moi’s grit – her ability to dig into the challenge of her illness with determination.

In a Ted talk on grit, Angela Duckworth, Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Pennsylvania, discusses the importance of having “a growth versus a fixed mindset”.  With a growth mindset, the process and the experience are more important than the ultimate goal: a mindset that sick kids gain when they realize life is about being who they are, not necessarily what they do or who they will become.

This perspective may help you get through difficult, even seemingly overwhelming, physical and emotional challenges even when you are faced with setbacks or chronic conditions.

Writing helps gritty young people like you tell their story. Through writing, you can document your emotional journey. Resilience, or emotional endurance as we call it, comes from recognizing your internal strength—“character” as it has traditionally been called. By reaching in, journaling gives you a tool to better understand your feelings and needs, so you can reach out and communicate your needs to others who are there to help.  This will empower you even in the most adverse circumstances.

Moi’s grit didn’t muddy her—it made her shine. She made the choice to put on the grit, and her life will be forever changed by it, as will the lives of everyone she is close to.

Sheri Sobrato
Sheri is a 30-year brain cancer survivor and founder of the nonprofit Digging Deep.