For most eight-year-olds, the biggest concern that comes to mind on a daily basis is how well they will play in their soccer match or what snack they will devour when they arrive home from school. Up until the third grade, senior Lauren Price could attest to these same norms, until her life was forever changed. 

After falling to the ground in her own front yard while playing a game of soccer, Price felt a sharp pain immediately shoot up her right leg. Due to her young age of eight years old, her parents found out that what they thought was a growing pain was osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that hospitalized Price, preventing her from starting the third grade. Fighting for her life with the scarce amount of only four percent of cancer funds being allocated for pediatric cancer, Price went through her difficult journey withstanding determination and positivity.  

“[Finding out I was diagnosed] was very shocking,” Price said. “It did not really hit me until years after that this was so huge at such a young age. Learning how to walk all over again and getting around was crazy but I had a really great support system.” 

Price had to quickly become accustomed to her new environment at Shands Hospital located in Gainesville, Florida. Learning to deal with this adversity took both strength and courage in order to undergo all her treatments, surgeries and navigate this new life she was suddenly living. While her family was unable to stop the life around them, Price found them to be one of the largest safety nets as they showed their continuous support from home in Tallahassee. 

“My family was really good about being supportive and doing the best they could to make me comfortable,” Price said. “My sister spent a lot of time in the hospital with me whenever she could and on my surgery days, my whole family and my grandmas would come and see me. It took a big toll on our family, but it brought us closer together and allowed us to see how we could depend on each other.” 

While her family remained a constant in her life throughout this journey in fighting osteosarcoma, leaving behind some of her athletic abilities was one of the hardest goodbyes. 

“I was very athletic and I loved to play sports,” Price said. “I had to stop running because they were worried about my leg, so that was when I started getting limited more and more. I couldn’t go out and had to wear masks everywhere because of my immune system, so it came on slowly and I then realized that this is actually happening. Once I started having surgeries it became real.” 

Experiencing this drastically life-changing time at such a young age is something most people could never understand. One of Price’s largest motivations throughout this journey was her friend Grayson, a one-year-old boy who was being treated at Shands Hospital at the same time she was. 

“We just had this connection because we were both going through something,” Price said. “I remember the first day I met him I told my mom that if I could trade places with him I would because I had gotten so much more experiences out of life and I didn’t want him to sacrifice that.”

Wanting to take this pain away from Grayson and all other sick children impacted her drive and desire to give back to the community that supported and uplifted her throughout her journey. 

“I am so passionate about giving back,” Price said. “I knew immediately that I wanted to help and did not want anyone else to have to go through this. My mom knew I was so passionate about making a change so knew I would be interested in this [being involved in the FSU and UF Dance Marathon.” 

While one of Price’s largest motivations was her environment and her passion to give back, another motivation was to live every day to the fullest for those who may not be able to. Marshall Fisher, a former Leon High School student, was fighting osteosarcoma at the same time Price was. They spent time bonding and supporting each other in the hospital, and now Price hits milestones for both of them in honor and memory of her friend. 

“Marshall has had the biggest impact on me and still has the biggest impact on me,” Price said. “I am now 17 and about to graduate and he never got to, so being able to see that life isn’t promised [is something I must remember every day]. It gets really hard sometimes because [I wonder] ‘why him and not me’, but I know there is a reason I work towards [making a difference] so more kids can turn 18 and graduate.” 

This great impact left on Price is her encouragement to live every day to the fullest and to support and improve the lives of those around her. 

“[I would tell someone going through what I went through that] everything will turn out ok,” Price said. “You will realize that it taught you a lot of stuff about life. It is really hard going through it, one of the worst things that can happen to you, especially at such a young age, but it teaches you so much about the world and how you should view it and every day. It is a positive thing you gain from that [experience], that you can make so much more of your life.” 

While Price continuously encourages others to act on life in this positive manner, she herself also radiates these same values within her community and family. 

“Lauren never lets anything stop her and never lets anything hold her back,” senior Chari Beamer said. “As a person, Lauren is so kind and the sweetest person ever.”

In addition to Price’s peers, everyone around her within the Maclay community can see the great level of adversity she has faced. Rather than letting this negative experience define her, she has used this to make a difference and improve the lives of others. 

“This kid has gusto and this kid is determined,” college counselor Daron Gallina said. “Maybe this was a part of her childhood and she still has to deal with it, but I think her strength and everything she has learned from it has put her in a position [where she can] use this to fight for other kids and other people that are going through what she went through.” 

Price has spent the past ten years defying these odds and will continue to fight each day for “more than four”. Her story is the inspiration and light for kids just like her to live every day for a better tomorrow and a brighter future.