Marianne’s daughter, Melissa, is a 31-year survivor of pediatric brain cancer — essentially, she’s a miracle. But being a survivor doesn’t mean that the childhood cancer journey is over. Just the opposite. Here is Marianne with the story of a recent difficult chapter of Melissa’s ongoing struggle with the long-term effects of her treatment.
Marianne’s daughter, Melissa, with her nurse of 31 years. Melissa was diagnosed with brain cancer as a child and has since struggled with severe long-term effects from the intense treatment she received.
It’s been over 31 years and it can still make my heart race with fear. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer.
Melissa, my daughter, has lived independently for over 17 years, despite limitations caused by treatment for pediatric brain cancer. Seventeen years after finishing treatment, she began suffering through many seizures and 8 strokes. She was forced to quit her job with Disney and rely on disability benefits to pay her bills.
Joey Chamness has grown up from being St. Baldrick’s very first Ambassador to become a longtime shavee and the VEO of his college event — helping fundraise for childhood cancer research to the tune of thousands of dollars. Why does he do it? Because this survivor knows firsthand how important it is to find better, safer treatments and cures for kids with cancer.
(Left) Joey rests and watches movies during his treatment for osteosarcoma. (Right) Now a survivor, Joey speaks during a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event.
21-year-old Joey Chamness considers himself lucky.
When it comes to fighting childhood cancer, Honored Kid Tyler is a triple threat – he’s a survivor of kids’ cancer, a shavee and a nursing student! Why is he passionate about conquering childhood cancers? Because this three-time cancer fighter doesn’t want more kids to go through what he did.
Tyler smiles after his shave with 9-year-old Honored Kid Ally.
While Tyler was in the hospital, he became very good at pretending that he was asleep. He overheard all sorts of things – things that doctors liked to sugarcoat when he was awake. Like the fact that they thought he was going to die.
A childhood cancer survivor, Brittany Ross smiles during her long-awaited wedding day to her fiance, Patrick.
When Honored Kid Brittany Ross was told that she’d be lucky to live another three weeks, she didn’t react with sadness. She didn’t bury her head under her hospital bed blankets and cry or ask, ‘Why me?’
She was mad. She was fired up. She was determined to beat childhood cancer.
“They made it seem like I had no chance,” Brittany said of her diagnosis in December 2000. “At this time, I was like, ‘Look, I’m 15 years old. I haven’t really started living my life yet.’”
And she had a come-back that any teenager would be proud of.
When a child survives cancer, the journey isn’t over. Childhood cancer survivors face the effects of their treatment for the rest of their lives — even when they decide to have children of their own. Meet 2012 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Sarah, a 28-year-old survivor who’s ready to be a mom, and Dr. Jill Ginsberg, a St. Baldrick’s researcher who’s determined to preserve the fertility of people like Sarah.
Sarah and Patrick have been together for 10 years, through Sarah’s relapse and beyond. Last year, they got married. Now they want to start a family and they are ready to face the challenges together.
Cancer survivorship issues are close to Dr. Brandon McNew’s heart. It’s not just because he treats kids with cancer as a pediatric oncologist — the St. Baldrick’s researcher was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 10 years old. Read on for more about his childhood cancer journey, why he was drawn to pediatric oncology and what he’s doing (with a little help from St. Baldrick’s) to help fellow cancer survivors live long, healthy lives.
Dr. McNew is both a St. Baldrick’s researcher and a shavee. He rocked the bald at a Cedar Rapids, Iowa event in 2015.
For Dr. Brandon McNew, treating kids with cancer isn’t just a professional calling. It’s personal.
Honored Kid Brooke was diagnosed with PH+ acute myeloid leukemia in 2015. She is now a survivor, but that doesn’t mean life is easy, ‘normal’ or back to a fraction of what it was like before cancer. Brooke explains…
(Left) Brooke during treatment after her 2015 diagnosis. (Right) Brooke poses for a photo during her first day back at school this year.
Cancer survivorship isn’t pretty. When I was diagnosed, I imagined that if I survived, my life after cancer would somehow be sweeter. Maybe I would appreciate the little things more or unlock some secret wisdom that would render me happier, more peaceful. This was believable through my first few rounds of chemo.
Then, I had a bone marrow transplant and became so ill that I spent five months inpatient post-transplant.
Dr. Noah Federman first decided to become a doctor because he wanted to help people. Mission accomplished, Dr. Federman. Over his years as a physician, he’s helped countless children with cancer, including cancer survivors like 2013 St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Emily. Read on for more about Dr. Federman, his St. Baldrick’s Scholar award and what he envisions for the future of childhood cancer research.
Dr. Noah Federman meets with a patient.
Dr. Noah Federman first met Emily back at the very beginning, soon after she discovered a persistent bump on her right leg — the first sign of a bone cancer called osteosarcoma.
The St. Baldrick’s Scholar has been there for Emily ever since, through the ups and downs of treatment, through her surgery and even now during survivorship, as she prepares to celebrate five years cancer free.
It’s a proud moment for Dr. Federman.
He became a doctor to make a difference in the lives of children like Emily — to help them beat cancer, get out of the hospital, and grow up healthy and happy.
Spunky, determined, and positive, 12-year-old Lily is a childhood cancer survivor in a family continually facing the disease. Read on for more of her inspirational story and see how this two-time shavee℠ is facing cancer survivorship head on and helping other kids like her.
Lily with her mom, Jennifer, during Lily’s 2014 shave.
For the Mallory family, hope is a curly-haired, 11-year-old girl named Lily.
In 2008 at the age of 3, Lily was diagnosed with two cancers — an adrenal cortical carcinoma and a sarcoma in her leg. Years later, her mom was diagnosed with two cancers too — breast cancer and sarcoma in her arm. The breast cancer has since metastasized to her bones, lungs and brain.
“There’s only so much you can do, but you could always be that one. You could be the Lily that defies all the odds,” said her mother, Jennifer.
Sean Swarner has been on top of the world — in more ways than one. He defeated cancer twice and was the first cancer survivor to summit Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak — a feat he accomplished with only one functioning lung. This is his amazing survivorship story.
Sean Swarner treks to the North Pole, becoming the first cancer survivor to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, a challenge to reach the North Pole, the South Pole and all of the Seven Summits.
Like most teens, Sean loved sports, hanging out with friends and the outdoors. But at the age of 13, that all changed when a knee injury sent him to the doctor. He was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin lymphoma and given three months to live.