Woman’s powerful university essay about losing her mum to cancer inspires many

A student’s university admission essay has gone viral as she wrote about her experience of losing a parent to cancer.

18-year-old Abigail Mack, from Massachusetts, secured a place at Harvard University after winning the hearts of the admission board with her emotional piece about losing her mum.

The teen shared her heartful story on TikTok in a series of clips, where she opened up about how the loss has impacted her life.

In the essay, she spoke of how the letter ‘s’ has been a constant reminder of her loss, as “the ‘s’ in ‘parents’ isn’t going anywhere.”

She wrote: “I hate the letter ‘s’. Of the 164,777 words with ‘s,’ I only grapple with one.

“To condemn an entire letter because of its use .0006 per cent of the time sounds statistically absurd, but that one case changed 100 per cent of my life.

“I used to have two parents, but now I have one, and the ‘s’ in ‘parents’ isn’t going anywhere.”

Mack mentioned how whilst writing her essay the word “parent” would often be highlighted in blue by the grammar check tool, Grammarly, which she says “assumes that I should have parents, but cancer doesn’t listen to edit suggestions.”

She continued: “S’ follows me, I can’t get through a day without being reminded that while my friends went out to dinner with their parents, I ate with my parent.

“As I write this essay, there is a blue line under the word ‘parent’ telling me to check my grammar; even Grammarly assumes that I should have parents, but cancer doesn’t listen to edit suggestions.

“I won’t claim that my situation is as unique as one in 164,777, but it is still an exception to the rule — an outlier. The world isn’t meant for this special case.”

In a second video, she explained how she took up extracurricular activities to distract herself from her loss.

“You can’t have dinner with your parent …if you’re too busy to have family dinner,” she said.

“I couldn’t fill the loss that ‘s’ left in my life, but I could at least make sure I didn’t have to think about it. There were so many things in my life I couldn’t control, so I controlled what I could — my schedule.”

In doing so, she discovered her passion for politics, academics and theatre, which was when she began “chasing a double ‘s’: passion.”

She concluded her essay: “‘S’ got me moving, but it hasn’t kept me going, I don’t seek out sadness, so “s” must stay on the sidelines, and until I am completely ready, motivation is more than enough for me.”

Since being posted, the video has racked more than 19 million views and almost 50,000 comments from people both admiring her writing and her resilience.

One person said: “So this is what a great writer looks like.”

Another wrote: “That part about Grammarly was SO GOOD!!”

“‘But cancer doens’t listen to edit suggestions’ such a beautiful quote. I’m sorry for your loss, but amazing writing,” commented a third.

And: “It’s rare to hear one’s voice present in their writing. I could hear yours clearly here. Amazing job,” wrote someone else.