My name is Savannah Gomes. I am currently a freshman at CSU Fresno. When I was 16 years old my world came to a halting stop. On December 4, 2007 I was diagnosed with a stage four rhabdomyosarcoma in my left posterior ethmoid sinus cavity. The tumor was touching but had not invaded the sack of the brain. Because it was so close to the brain, surgery was not an option, so doctors turned to radiation and chemotherapy at the beginning of treatment in hopes of shrinking the tumor to a size where it could safely be removed. After my 6 weeks of radiation I had scans done to see how the tumor had responded. The result? It shrank 2/3rds its size. Doctors were so impressed that they continued on with chemo treatments and postponed the possibility of surgery until a later date. I continued on through therapy for the next nine months. By the time my last treatment came around, I was in disbelief. The whole diagnosing process was a complete blur and treatment, though difficult, had sped by completely. Soon after finishing treatment, I had scans done once again and learned that I was cancer free. Starting off at a stage four, there was now no trace of tumor!
As I mentioned, treatment came and went, but a year and a half later and I am still struggling with the side effects. Because of the chemo drug Vincristine, I suffered a terrible case of neuropathy. The ability to walk, alone, was a tedious task. As for buttoning my pants or cutting my own food, that was impossible. With help from physical therapy, I relearned to walk correctly and by June of my senior year I was able to graduate with my senior class as a valedictorian with a 4.1 GPA.
I have also danced at a local studio for 13 years now. Since day one, dance became and still remains to be my strongest passion. Because of the neuropathy I developed I have been kept from dancing the last 3 years. I continue to fight for the ability to dance once again.
As of summer 2007, I found a new hobby. The past three years I have coached Pop Warner cheerleaders, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. It is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding tasks I have ever encountered. This past year my girls placed first in their division.
My biggest thrill is driving around the mountains, where I live, in my little 2003 red Volkswagen bug!
Going through treatment has given me a new look on life. I have met children, doctors, and nurses who have become some of my biggest influences. I could not imagine my life without them now. Though treatment was difficult, I am blessed to have the experience in my life. I plan to take my experience with this disease and make a career. I am currently suffering from post traumatic stress from treatment. I thrive to continue on in my education and become a psychologist specializing in pediatric oncology patients. Meeting a cancer survivor while I was on treatment was my initiative to keep going. I would look at them and tell myself “they went through everything I’m going through. They continued on through life and are now fine (and have hair)!” I want to be the person that gives hope to the many kids facing such a difficult time. I remember how it felt being disconnected from my friends and life I loved.
My ultimate dream is to work for St. Jude’s Research Hospital. I’ll let you know how I turn out.