Patient to Peer: Who Am I?

I am from a town just outside of Portland, Maine and I absolutely adore red pandas. Small in stature, I listen to anything from heavy metal to punk rock music. I’m a little nerdy; I love science, math, and videogames. Okay, a little nerdy was a bit of an understatement. Quirky, pun-loving, and unashamed. I’ll be open about most things, making cringey jokes or complaining about how in Brothers Grimm’s version of Snow White is dumb because the evil queen wanted to eat Snow White’s heart and liver but if you eat a human liver as a human, you die. Science is important, folks.

I’m a freshman with a biochemistry major on the pre-medical track at Simmons University, in hopes to one day become an oncology researcher for pediatric cancers. While I know my career choice is oddly specific, especially for a freshman, it is because I am a cancer survivor myself. Diagnosed just a few weeks before my eighteenth birthday, I went through treatments from the end of 2016 through the bulk of 2017, starting during my senior year of high school. Osteosarcoma, an aggressive pediatric bone cancer, was something I wasn’t going to let control me and the life I built for myself. Which is exactly why I intend to go into the research of this disease and other pediatric cancers which take the lives of children and young adults.

After speaking with my oncologists and surgeons about my story and the stories of other patients, many of us decide to go into a field to help others going through the same experiences we have. Whether that be going into nursing, clinical oncology, or oncology research like myself. Wanting to be as far away from the inpatient wing of a hospital, I chose to look further into medical research so that I can do my part without having to relive some of my treatments. From my own experience, I know that I can bring quite a lot to the table, even though I’m only nineteen. I know a lot about current treatments, with both my own type of cancer and with others from the stories I’ve been told, both from other patients and my doctors. It all leads to one not-so-great conclusion, that chemotherapy and radiation leave lifelong effects on a patient – especially when they’re still developing and growing, like all pediatric patients. Chemotherapy is bad on all ends, but when it’s given to an adolescent, it can significantly impact their life and even shorten it. It isn’t much of an issue for adult cancers, while it’s still horrendously bad, because for adults, they’ve already lived almost a full life. In pediatric cancers, they might not even get the chance to live any life.