My friends and family all call me an Old Soul. And it makes complete sense.
When I was just 12 years old I was told that I have inoperable brain cancer. Being so young at the time of my diagnosis, I didn’t fully understand what having cancer meant. I thought after a week or two in the hospital, I would be back to living my normal life. I quickly found out that was not going to be the case…
My journey with brain cancer began on July 3rd, 2012. I was at basketball practice and I couldn’t run and I was in so much pain. I didn’t know what was happening. I made it through the end of practice, but the pain got worse. My parents took me to see a neurologist and she ended up telling us that there was nothing wrong, and told us that I just had ADHD and put me on medication. As weeks went by, my headaches continued to get worse and I would spend all day with my head buried in my pillow. My parents knew something was wrong and called my neurologist and asked if I can have an MRI. The neurologist said to my parents, “MRI’s are a traumatizing experience for a kid, but if it will make you feel better then lets get an MRI.” After the MRI was complete, I was sent directly to Children’s Hospital in LA. July 3rd, 2012 my life forever changed.
The next couple of years consisted of many rounds of chemotherapy, months of radiation, a stem cell transplant, and high dose chemotherapy. I have had 6 brain procedures and I now have a permanent drain placed inside my head.
Treatment is harsh on my body and everything now is harder; I can no longer play contact sports, and school work is much harder for me. The high dose chemotherapy wiped out all of my taste buds, making it very difficult to eat and gain weight. I missed my entire 8th grade year and most of my high school years. I had to work harder to get caught up because I was determined to graduate with my class, and I did!
The hardest part about cancer is adjusting to the new normal. I am now in my 2nd year at Pierce College and would like to transfer to a University and pursue a career in the medical field. Since my diagnosis, we formed Team Nate-Dawg and we participate every year in the L.A. Brain Tumor Walk to raise funds for brain cancer research. I know how important it is to raise money for treatment as my clinical trial may not have been possible without research funds.
I have not had the “normal” childhood experience because of my diagnosis. Instead of going to school every day, I was going to the hospital. Instead of hanging out with friends and going to parties, I was spending my time in the hospital getting treatment. My outlook on life has been forever changed, Cancer has made me so much more appreciative for the things that I used to take for granted
Being treated at Children’s Hospital, I found myself surrounded by kids much younger than me. I felt like I was fighting by myself and that no one could relate to me. That’s when one of my friends introduced me to Teen Cancer America. This organization partners with hospitals throughout the United States to develop specialized facilities and services for teens and young adults with cancer. I honestly have been searching for something like this for so long. and now that I have finally found it I am so excited. TCA brings hope to young adults and gives them a chance to finally find themselves.