Battling cancer has changed my life. It’s safe to say that I would not be the person I am today without undergoing this beast. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not think about cancer and how fortunate I am to be here.
When I was just thirteen months old I was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma and given a 30 percent chance of survival. After undergoing extensive chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries, I came out on top. Today, I am driven by the strength I had as a baby to fight and survive cancer and to pursue my dream to find a cure for all those fighting now.
Inspired from my own journey and other cancer warriors, I am living my dream as a senior at the University of Minnesota, pursuing a degree in marketing and working as an intern at Children’s Cancer Research Fund. And last fall, I completed my first marathon in honor of all cancer warriors and angels.
However, being a childhood cancer survivor isn’t always as glamorous as it may seem from the outside. There are long-term side effects from the harsh treatment we received at a young age, and they keep creeping up on us as we age.
We continuously go to survival check-ups and we never stop worrying that our cancer may come back or that the side effects will make us different from our peers. Heart defects, chemo brain, and dental issues from the harsh treatments are what I will be dealing with for the rest of my life.
Although I am a lucky survivor, it pains me to see other children battling this disease and having it take their lives. Funding research is the only key we have to cures for childhood cancer.
Not only do we need cures, we need treatments that leave less damaging side effects on children so they can pursue the life they have dreamed of having.
If there was one thing I would say to another cancer patient and their family it would be my favorite quote from Winnie the Pooh, “There is something you must always remember: you are braver than you believe, smarter than you think and stronger than you seem,”—because only the bravest and strongest of warriors were given this battle.
Molly Hollway, cancer survivor