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May 12, 2013

Senate honors cancer survivor on her 14th birthday

NORMAN — The Oklahoma State Senate honored the 2013-2014 National Youth Ambassador for the American Indian Health Research and Education Alliance this week.

Cierra Fields, a Cherokee native and eighth-grader from Fort Gibson, was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 4 and spent her fifth birthday on the operating table. Her 14th birthday was different, however, as Cierra had the opportunity to share a message with members of the Senate in Cherokee and English.

She began by quoting former Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller who said “the most fulfilled people are the ones that get up every day and stand for something larger than themselves. They are the people that care about others and they are the ones that will extend a helping hand to someone in need or will speak about an injustice when they see it.”

“I have admired her [Chief Mankiller’s] willingness to forge ahead when everyone told her she couldn’t change anything. Chief Mankiller knew that change would not come if we waited for others to change things for us. I believe we are the change we’ve been waiting for and we are the change we seek,” said Fields.

Little Water Fields, as she is known in Cherokee, also was honored as one of the five Native Youth 2013 Champions for Change winners, awarded in Washington, D.C., on March 4. She will serve a two-year term on the National Native Youth Advisory Board for the Center for Native American Youth. The Champion for Change awards are given by the Center for Native American Youth, which was founded to bring greater attention to issues facing Native American teens.

The past two years, Fields has also volunteered for the Cherokee Nation Comprehensive Cancer Control Program to educate her people about skin cancer.

She also volunteers with the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

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