30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2020
Hi! My name is Vanessa, and I am 14 years old. This year, I am a freshman at Parkland High School. September 18, 2007 is a day that my family will never forget. At just 21 months old, I was diagnosed with PNET, Primitive Neuro-Ectodermal Tumor, in my brain and spine. Being so young, I fortunately do not remember all my hospital stays, my spinal surgery nor all the days that I endured chemotherapy and treatment. My parents tell me some days were really tough.
For years and years, I had been on many different chemo medications to try and keep my MRIs stable. Finally, on December 12, 2017, I was finished with my treatments! To this day, I still go down to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia every 4 months for a routine check-up and MRI.
I also live with everyday struggles that I keep to myself. They are a constant reminder of my journey.
PCFLV has been a part of my family for many years. Throughout those years, my family and I have made many friends. We have also made some great memories. We participated in lots of different activities like Big Top Chemo Circus, Camp Smile and Kick for Cancer. I am currently on the PCFLV Teen Board, where I get to pay it forward to others who are now on their cancer journeys.
At the age of 8 I started attending PCFLV’s one-week summer camp, Camp Smile. It is so incredible to be able to walk into an environment where everyone around you knows what going through cancer means. For once in a long time, I was not the odd one out. I attended Camp Smile for 5 years as a camper and then the past 2 years I have been a counselor. Being able to help cancer kids feel like normal kids at Camp Smile warms my heart. The team that helps to put on camp is truly dedicated to making the week the best week possible!
My life may never be “normal” again, but I know that I am a SURVIVOR, which is all that matters!
Written by Vanessa