August 23, 2018
Zoe – /Ζωη/ deriving from the Greek word, life.
At age six Zoe Farrell was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, bone cancer. After frequent breathing troubles, she was taken in for an X-ray that showed her entire chest cavity as white. A tumor the size of a soccer ball had taken up her 2/3 of her chest, causing all vital organs – her heart, left lung and kidney to shift to the right. At only six years old, she faced major surgery to cut it out and place screws in to prep her for chemo radiation. At seven she was faced with 11 rounds chemo: two months of proton radiation. During this time, Zoe lived in the Ronald McDonald foundation home in Jacksonville and traveled back and forth for the vital treatments.
Throughout this battle Zoe always upheld a positive attitude, “it’s a beautiful life” Zoe was known to frequently say during her chemo. After two years of battle, Zoe was deemed clear and put on remission.
“It was a lot, but I pushed through,” she said.
Entering her freshman year at Santaluces, Zoe struggled with depression from the traumatic experiences she dealt with at such a young age. Seeing this, her parents sent her on a wilderness therapy program. Entering this program, Zoe said that jumping right into a three month hike was not what she wanted at first.
“I was in a really bad mindset,” she said.
She spent the winter in a Southern Utah desert, backpacked through 3-4 feet of snow, and after building relationships with peers on the trail and campsites, she began to appreciate the nature around her. And she acquired various skills.
“I learned to make shampoo from the roots of a yucca plant and how to make my own fire,” she said.
Leaving the three-month trail, Zoe was super aware of the environment around her and made changes in her lifestyle. Student Conservation Association.
“I stopped eating red meat because it’s more environmental friendly,” she said.
After joining the Student Conservation Association, Zoe returned to the woods at the end of her Freshman year and spent the summer at the Voyageurs National Park in Utah where she hiked, backpacked, and cleared out trails.
For those interested in this lifestyle of adventure, Zoe offers out a few tips: “make sure all your gear is fitted and suited for you and practice walking,” she said.
How does she keep such self-discipline in both her eating habits and exercise?
“If you have a real passion for it [hiking] you’ll be excited, and want to walk 10 miles,” Zoe offers with a smile.