I have been a St. Baldrick's Honored Kid since June 2015, when I was diagnosed with high-risk acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 19. I was treated at Children's Hospital Oakland, where I achieved remission in August 2015 and had a bone marrow transplant on September 24, 2015. In the beginning, surviving seemed like the ultimate goal. Now, over 3.5 years post transplant, I struggle to see survival as a victory. Since my transplant, I have suffered acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in my gut, skin, eyes, liver, and mouth. I have also suffered complications ranging from acute kidney injury necessitating dialysis to a tacrolimus-induced grand mal seizure to permanent alopecia.
In addition to suffering these complications, I discovered that, since I am an adolescent/young adult (AYA), many doctors do not know how to treat me. Children react one way to many treatments, and adults react another. AYAs are stuck in the middle. During the worst of my GVHD, I was sent between pediatric and adult doctors who argued with each other about what to do - should I cauterize my tears ducts permanently when children usually heal but adults don’t? Should I get a permanent dialysis catheter when children probably wouldn’t need it but adults would? I ended up needing the cauterization, but not the catheter. Unfortunately, I delayed the cauterization for over a year as we weren’t sure what to do. I also got the catheter, then by the next day it was unnecessary.
Surviving cancer as an AYA is already difficult, and I want to alleviate the additional suffering that I and my fellow survivors face years after treatment “ends.” This led me to start this hero fund. My friends and family have been amazing supporters, donating their birthdays on facebook and organizing their own fundraisers in addition to my efforts. When I returned to college after my treatment (I am majoring in Human Biology at Stanford), I began conducting pediatric oncology research in a St. Baldrick’s funded lab. My lab at Stanford even surprised me with thousands of dollars they had collected!
As a survivor, researcher, and future doctor (I will be attending medical school at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai starting in 2020), I see the impact of these dollars every day. Our kids, including me, deserve more than surviving. We deserve to thrive. Thank you for considering supporting lives like mine.
Donations given to Brooke's Young Adult Survivorship Fund go directly to the St. Baldrick's Foundation to fund lifesaving childhood cancer research around the world. The Foundation is guided by a Scientific Advisory Committee, comprised of leading experts in the childhood cancer community, to ensure that every dollar makes the greatest impact for kids with cancer.
These people make us smile - they're the doers and money-raisers on behalf of the Brooke's Young Adult Survivorship Fund. They're shaving their heads, hosting events, starting fundraisers and more to make childhood cancer research possible.
Start your own St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event to raise money on behalf of our Hero Fund! You’ll be paired with a staff member who will walk you through every step of the process, and you’ll have fun knowing you’re doing a great thing for kids with cancer.
Register to shave your head and raise money for our Hero Fund at any St. Baldrick’s event happening around the world! Not finding an event near you? Register as a virtual shavee and shave your head anytime, anywhere.