What was your diagnosis?
Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor or PNET (brain cancer)
What treatments or surgeries did you have?
In San Diego, I was performed on successfully to have my baseball sized tumor removed. As far as we know, all of the tumor was removed. But, to make sure, I was sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where I was given 35 days of radiation, including concentrated radiation to the tumor bed, and radiation to whole brain and spine. I was given 30 days to go home, and then returned for four cycles of high dose chemo therapy.
What organizations are you involved with?
I am involved and have presented or assisted with fundraisers for Rady Children’s San Diego, Make-A-Wish, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, the Jordan and Kyra Memorial Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the American Cancer Society.
Who were the first survivors/thrivers you met?
The first survivors I met were at a group for teenagers with cancer, in treatment or surviving, and their siblings/friends. The group was at my local children’s hospital. It’s called SOMBFAB, (Some of my best friends are bald) and I found out about it through the program coordinator at the time. The group is unofficially ages 13-35, however some kids as young as ten have been invited, and some of the people over 35 still come.
What is your personal theme song?
I would say my personal theme song would be Hakuna Matata. I get down and sad, even without surviving cancer. The reason I can keep a good mood usually is by telling myself “no worries.”
How are you fighting back against tumors?
I fight back against tumors by being aware, and by sharing my story at events, with friends and family, and by attending and supporting fundraisers for several institutions dedicated to fighting tumors and other cancers.
Any advice for people at the beginning of their battle against tumors?
I would say stick through it. It’s hard, and whether or not your journey is smooth as mine was fortunately, or rough, as many of my friends’ journeys have been, you can do it, you can come out of it as yourself. Your tumor will never define you if you don’t let it, and if you tell yourself you can do it, nothing, and I mean nothing, can stop you.