Contest Guidelines:

Ethics Statement:

  • No purchase or obligation necessary. Essay submissions are evaluated in a fair and unbiased multi-round judging process


  1.  Open to students in the 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th grades.
  2. This contest is only available to residents of Illinois.
  3.  Past contest winners are not eligible to win again.

Entry Rules: 

  1. Each student may submit only one essay, in English or Spanish, about his or her experience with cancer
  2. The essay must be the work of a single student and authored by that student.
  3.  Essay length must fall within the following limits: 500 – 2000 words.
  4.  Each essay must include the “It’s Always Something” Teen Essay Contest entry form. 
  5. Entries must be submitted electronically or postmarked by March 1st, 2016.
  6.  Each essay must be original material written during this academic year.


Contestants are strongly encouraged to attend the Awards Reception on Wednesday, March 30th, 2016. 1st ($3000), 2nd ($1500) and 3rd ($500) place winners in the “Personal Cancer Experience” and “Family Cancer Experience” categories will receive a cash prize to further your educational aims (college, tutoring, culinary school, trade school, etc.) A W-9 form must be completed by the student before the check will be released.

How will my entry be judged?

Personal voice: Judges will be looking for an interesting and engaging essay told in your own words. The essay should describe your experience and an overall message about how your experience has impacted your life. Clarity and Style: Judges will be looking for a clear and consistent focus in your writing and a logical progression of ideas. Proper grammar, accurate word choices, correct punctuation and good sentence structure should be used.

To submit online, click here.

Entries must have an entry form attached and submitted electronically or postmarked by March 1st, 2016.
For questions please email: