“ Remember that whatever you are experiencing is temporary. There will be ups and downs - but life always moves and is fluid. There is another chance for a better day.
Kayla Giacin is another Brain Tumor mAss Kicker from New York City! Kayla currently works for the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation as the Resource and Research manager. She is also the lead coordinator for the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA ) Survivor Program, implementing and managing social programs and events throughout the year, along with several other family oriented events. She is involved with many Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer organizations such as First Descents, Stupid Cancer,Camp Make-A Dream. We meet her years ago in New York City and reconnected with her at a conference in Denver earlier this year.
mK: Thanks for doing this Kayla! How did you find out about your diagnosis?
KG: I was diagnosed with my brain tumor when I was 8 years old, so pretty much all of it had to do with my parents picking up on things that weren’t right.
mK: Do you remember what your symptoms were?
KG: I was getting sick all the time. I was very uncoordinated. I was sent for a vision test to address the coordination issues and it found that I was losing sight in my right eye as well as my peripheral vision. One thing led to another and eventually I had an MRI that led to finding the tumor.
mK: How are you doing now? What are you up to?
KG: I’m doing well! I struggle with several long term chronic health issues, but being diagnosed so young, it’s all I ever really knew. I learned ways to adapt. Now, I work at the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation in New York City and live close to Queens. It’s pretty amazing that I get to give back and live/work in an awesome place while doing it!
mK: CBTF is a great organization! So, what personally motivates you?
KG: Other survivors. I am so lucky I was able to become a part of a tight knit brain tumor community and can help families and survivors through my job. In many ways, I know what they are going through and I want them to feel the same way I did when I found my niche within the community.
mK: Who is your personal hero or are your heroes?
KG: My personal hero would have to be my dad. He taught me how to be a strong person by showing me how to stay grounded, be compassionate, and to never accept anything less than I deserve. Most importantly, he taught these things by leading from his own example.
mK: Parents are the greatest mentors! What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
KG: Oooo – that is a tough question to answer! I can be a very emotional. I’m happy to say that I laugh a lot. Being around people who I can joke around with for sure. I also like really bad puns. The cornier, the better.
I cry when it comes to a loss of something. Of course, the physical loss of a person you love (which unfortunately happens in the cancer community), but also the loss of an ability you once had, the loss from missing milestones and parts of your childhood from being sick Those things don’t really go away. You can adapt and accept them, but they don’t vanish.
I’m not a very angry person. It takes a lot to get me ticked off, but I would have to say if someone disrespect a person I love or someone who picks on the underdog.
mK: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
KG: I went surfing in Santa Barbara with First Descents, a young adult cancer organization. This was something that was WAY out of my comfort zone.
mK: First Descent is a great organization! What is the toughest challenge a survivor faces?
KG: I would have to say long term effects (LTE) of survivorship – even more specifically, how others in the “non-mAssKicking world” don’t always understand the LTE.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
KG: Without a doubt, any kind of dessert!
mK: OK, “hypothetical question” time… If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be…
KG: Donald Trump… so I could drop out of the race.
mK: HAHAHA! That answer took me by surprise… Pretty funny! What are is next on your agenda?
KG: I would love to travel! I don’t have anything planned right now, but that is always on my agenda 🙂
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
KG: Yes – remember that whatever you are experiencing is temporary. There will be ups and downs – but life always moves and is fluid. There is another chance for a better day.
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
KG: Most people would be surprised by my taste in music. It ranges over decades and genres. Because of my Dad, I have a lot of knowledge about bands from the 50s and 60s. I’ve won music trivia contests against people twice my age!
mK: Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
KG: Keep kicking mAss!
Kayla Giacin: Music trivia guru, travel addict, anti-Trump supporter, dessert-o-holic, passionate Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Advocate, Long-Term Pediatric Brain Tumor Thrvier, and cool gal! Thanks for doing this Kayla! Keep up the great work supporting pediatric brain tumor survivors and their loved ones!