Student finds success at AU amid life-and-death fight with cancer
Transforming Lives: Learners of AU is an ongoing series where real students and alumni share how AU’s flexible learning model made a difference in their lives and, in turn, the communities in which they live and work. Submit your story
I attended St. Francis University in Antigonish, N.S., to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in finance.
My studies were interrupted in late 2019 when I started experiencing severe pain in my right leg. On Jan. 20, 2020, I was diagnosed with an aggressive childhood bone cancer known as Ewing Sarcoma, very similar to the disease that Terry Fox battled. The tumour attacking my right femur was massive—larger than the size of an American football.
“The tumour attacking my right femur was massive—larger than the size of an American football.”– Mitchell Ryan Shaw, Bachelor of Commerce, Finance Major student
I moved to Alberta so I could access better health care. For the following 2 years, I underwent 14 rounds of one of the most aggressive chemotherapy protocols on Earth, along with multiple surgeries to remove the tumour and reconstruct my leg.
During that time, I continued my studies through Athabasca University (AU). The resources and staff at AU made it not only possible, but they went above and beyond to support, accommodate, and transition me from a recovering cancer patient to a full-time student with a 4.0 GPA.
I now enjoy long hikes, daily exercise, and travel. I have even broken into acting in my spare time, appearing on shows seen on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and Paramount+.
AU makes achieving a valuable university degree possible, while still granting me the freedom to pursue my hobbies, dreams, and passions.
Transforming Lives: Learners of AU
Read more profiles of AU students and grads in our series Transforming Lives: Learners of AU.