I remember staring down at the cracked sidewalk as we paced down the upper east side in New York City. It was May 2009, and I was sixteen-years-old—ten years older than when I was diagnosed with my first cancer. My mother, sister, and I were on our way to the hospital. As we entered the building, we walked straight to the elevator and rode up to the 9th floor. I was about to be diagnosed with cancer for the second time in my life. I barely survived a thyroid tumor at six-years-old, and ten years later I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia; however, I managed to beat cancer twice in one lifetime. I was able to overcome this adversary with perseverance, the support of my loved ones, and the hope and inspiration that the Make-A-Wish® Foundation provided me.
The Make-A-Wish® Foundation played a pivotal role throughout my arduous leukemia treatment. They granted me the wish of an incredible shopping spree that I still remember today. However, it was more than a shopping spree; it was an opportunity to forget about my pain, feel normal for the day, and have something to look forward to with my newly purchased outfits.
Today I am cancer free and dedicated to become a physician-scientist, specifically a pediatric hematologist-oncologist/cancer biologist. Although it took me awhile to build up my confidence and assimilate back to school, I am now one year away from graduating with my Bachelor of Science from Stony Brook University. Being a cancer patient for over ten years has gifted me with both empathy and the drive to make a difference for all of those who are or will undergo cancer treatment. For this reason, I will continue to broaden my research experience at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee—I was offered a paid internship for ten weeks this summer.
More importantly, I am not waiting until I become a doctor to make a difference; I am and always will be committed to serving others. The Make-A-Wish® Foundation was there for me at a difficult stage in my life, and now it is one of my passions to be there for them and the sick children they continue to help and inspire. I am now on the other side of the table making dreams come true for wish children. The Make-A-Wish® Foundation will always have a very special place in my heart. As one of their volunteers, I commit to a cause much larger than myself. I am an advocate, and I truly appreciate the hope, and inspiration that the Make-A-Wish® Foundation embodies.