How Scouting Helped Prepare This Teen to Fight Cancer

Boy Scouts of America

Katie Casserly never knew how much the Scout Motto — “Be Prepared” — would apply to her life until she was diagnosed with cancer last fall.

The 18-year-old Venturer from Staten Island, N.Y., wanted to be in Scouting ever since she was little, and she has enjoyed every minute.

“Scouting teaches you numerous things, gives you millions of chances, makes you cross paths with many people,” she says. “I’ve done things I never would’ve imagined, met people who have become family, and I’ve learned things that have set me for life. Without Scouting, I would have nothing right now.”

Katie got the word she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare cancer of the lymph nodes, two days before she was to receive the Venturing Silver Award at a court of honor.

“The hardest thing was going from something happy like that to something devastating like this,” she says.

A cancer diagnosis can be crippling, but Katie was determined to find a solution to this problem life had thrown her way. Scouting taught her how to survive in the wilderness, she figured, so surviving cancer should be no different.

“When you’re in Scouting, you’re taught how to survive and handle any situation,” she says. “To be prepared in case of anything: emergencies, weather, etc. The first thing you’re told when approaching any situation is to not panic. To stop and think.”

In fact, she found seven ways surviving cancer reminded her of wilderness survival:

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