After being the captain of three varsity sports teams his senior year in high school, Ethan Hawes was looking for a new challenge. So, in 2013, he decided to start training for the Rock & Roll Marathon in Madrid, Spain where he was spending his junior year as a University of Maine student. He knocked the marathon out of the park, completing it in 4 hours and 17 minutes. Finishing the marathon was the most “amazing and exciting moment of my life,” recalls Ethan. However, on the bus ride back, Ethan’s right hip was in excruciating pain.
As a longtime athlete, Ethan was used to sports injuries and didn’t think much about it. So, life went on. He returned to the United States and started waiting tables for a summer job. By late June, he was in so much pain that he could barely stand and finally gave into his parents’ pleas to see a doctor. After a couple of weeks of x-rays, scans, and many doctor visits, Ethan received the news that rocked him to his core. He had cancer—a very rare type of blood cancer for someone his age, known as multiple myeloma. He had a small tumor on his skull as well as a fist-size tumor on the top of his right femur where it joins with the hip.
For Ethan, the unfathomable diagnosis led to dark and depressing days that involved radiation, chemotherapy, surgeries, post traumatic stress disorder, short term memory loss, and an extremely serious, exhausting, and painful stem cell transplant. Through it all, Ethan relied on his family and friends to see him through. He also continued going to school, only missing one semester, and graduated with a degree in Marketing and International Business. There were countless times during these days that Ethan reflected back on his marathon experience to draw on the memories of hope and determination.
And then, Ethan started looking to the future. He said, “I remember thinking that I had made it and I didn’t want to waste a minute because everything is so beautiful.”
With a hip replacement surgery and lengthy recovery still ahead of him, Ethan wanted to use the window of time to get his life back in his own control, Ethan reached out to Easter Seals NH Employment Services. “I began thinking about what I wanted to do and what I was passionate about. I wanted to do something that would make a significant impact on others and also contribute to the greater good.” He soon connected to Easter Seals Employment Services Coordinator Jeanne Venuti and together, they began exploring employment opportunities through a series of informational interviews at a variety of organizations that would help Ethan to define the right career path.
As for the future—after his hip surgery and recovery—and with help from Easter Seals, Ethan plans to pursue a career in medical device sales or marketing where he can focus on people and make a difference.
“Easter Seals has helped to pull me up and give me the confidence to do what I couldn't imagine doing,” said Ethan, of his job search. “Jeanne has helped me to be more insightful about what drives me and has allowed me to envision the next play unfolding in my life.”
For Ethan, the last three years have felt like “finishing the marathon again.” This time around, he’s feeling strong, confident, and ready to take on the world.