Editor’s Note: Brooke is an Ambassador and Honored Kid who just graduated from Stanford University. As Cancer Survivors Month continues on the St. Baldrick’s Blog, we’re letting her tell the story of how she got to this day in her own words.
On Thursday, September 24, 2015, my friends were finishing up their first week of junior year at Stanford. I was lying in a hospital bed, watching as my brother’s stem cells were infused into my body, replacing the bone marrow that had turned against me.
On Friday, September 25, my friends celebrated their first weekend back together at school. I had a grand mal seizure.
When I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the end of my sophomore year of college, I knew that I was going to have a very different college experience from my peers. I had no idea how different it would be.
I had the impression that I would either die or I would live and return to my previous life. I had a high-risk form of leukemia that did not respond to my first round of chemotherapy, and at first it seemed that the death option was more likely.
But when I got into remission on a salvage round of chemotherapy and proceeded to my bone marrow transplant, I was hopeful that a return to “normal life” was possible.
It’s Valentine’s Day and that means exchanging cards, chocolates, teddy bears, and flowers with loved ones. The prevailing symbol of Valentine’s Day is the heart – which makes sense, given that the day is all about showing love and affection.
Because the heart is so central to Valentine’s Day, it’s a useful time to reflect on how childhood cancers impact this vital organ. Unfortunately, childhood cancers affect far more than the parts of the body in which they emerge – brain cancer doesn’t just harm the brain; leukemia doesn’t just affect the blood; and bone cancers often spread to the major organs.
The holiday season is about giving – and what better gift for your loved ones than something that helps a great cause, like taking childhood back from cancer. Not only are the items below awesome gift ideas, but a portion of each sale goes to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Back in April, Ambassador Zach was finally healthy enough after his bone marrow transplant to go out in public. What did he decide to do after that momentous milestone? He joined the hundreds of advocates speaking up for kids’ cancer research on Capitol Hill during Childhood Cancer Action Days. Here’s his recap of that trip and the big moments that have come since …
Ambassador Zach poses for a photo in front of the United States Capitol building and its famous dome during Childhood Cancer Action Days in April.
I received a bone marrow transplant over a year ago, and I was so glad that I was healthy enough to speak on Capitol Hill this past April as a St. Baldrick’s ambassador. As an ambassador, I am a face and a voice for childhood cancer, and while in Washington, D.C., my family and I represented thousands of children and families who are affected by childhood cancer. I was lucky enough to share my story and talk about the importance of funding childhood cancer research through the STAR (the Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research) Act, the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever taken up by Congress. With the recent passage of the STAR Act, we have come so far, but we still have so far to go.
Brooks was only 5 years old, but he had a passion for life! He loved dance parties, Hot Wheels cars, monster trucks, Legos and video games.
His favorite holidays were Christmas and the Fourth of July, and his favorite sports were baseball and soccer. Brooks knew every pizza joint in town and loved salami sandwiches. He enjoyed taking walks to look for rocks or shells on the beach.
When you meet Julia, you know right away there’s something special about her. Perhaps it’s her bright smile or her exuberant joy and compassion for others. But this 11-year-old girl is super!
In fact, that’s her family’s favorite nickname for her — “Supergirl Julia” — given in honor of her courage and determined spirit during her cancer journey.
Zach is a cancer warrior. He is courageous, strong and has fought cancer three times.
Diagnosed when he was 6 years old, Zach beat cancer for the first time after nearly four years of treatment. Then, at age 11, he knew it was back. Zach powered through almost three more years of treatment with a positive attitude.
Maya describes the day she was diagnosed with Wilms tumor as “the worst day ever.”
It was July 6, 2016, one month before her seventh birthday. Doctors immediately scheduled surgery to remove her left kidney, where the tumor was located. Two weeks later, Maya began her treatment plan, which included radiation and chemotherapy. But shortly after treatment started, more aggressive cancer cells were found in her tumor and Maya was placed on a more intensive chemotherapy plan.
With an irresistible laugh and the face of a cherub, 5-year-old Kellan wins the hearts of everyone he meets. No one even notices his wheelchair.
We asked Ambassador Cheyenne who her heroes are. Her answer? “My mom and dad.” So today, for National Parents’ Day, we asked her to tell us why — and she gave us 10 great reasons. (Number 10 is our favorite!)
Cheyenne with her mom and dad, Amy and Levi.
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