My name is Brandon Demkowicz and I’m a senior at Farmington High School as well as a member of the new AYA [Adolescent and Young Adult] Cancer Advisory Council here at Connecticut Children’s. This past May, I finally finished my three-year treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and I am forever grateful for all the invaluable support this community has given me throughout my journey. This, of course, includes the amazing healthcare I received from Dr. EIleen Gillan and my diligent medical team. However, speaking on behalf of my fellow AYA patients, the true hardship of cancer often lies not in the disease itself, but rather the lack of normalcy and feelings of isolation it creates. It is the recognition of this fact by the Connecticut Children’s community that makes it so special, an element that in my eyes is just as pivotal as strong healthcare.
I joined the AYA council for this very reason, to further bring light to these more subtle adversities of the cancer experience, and provide a voice to a group who in times of isolation often feel like they have none. Therefore, I am incredibly excited today to finally see all of our countless hours brainstorming and designing this new inpatient Teen Lounge finally come to fruition and to begin creating this welcoming refuge for each and every AYA patient on the 8th floor. Among all the fun features of the new lounge, my personal favorite has to be the quiet reading nook in the back, a place where I, as much as I do love her, I could’ve finally gotten some peace and quiet from my mother. So on behalf of all my fellow AYA patients at Connecticut Children’s, I want to say thank you to TCA and its entire Board of Directors, especially Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, and that we’d love to have all of you back for the ribbon-cutting event in the Spring. I also want to end by thanking Dr. Frederick, Mary Laliberte, the Hem/Onc department and all the people at the hospital who have made this moment possible.