I always loved the beauty and grace of dancing ballet, an art that I had been practicing since the age of 4. In fact, it was at dance class early in 2009 when I started seeing spots and was extremely dizzy. I told my mom, Becky, who immediately began to look for answers. Initially, I sought treatment with an optometrist, then an ophthalmologist. When I received the glasses I thought were needed, and they didn’t correct my vision, my family and I knew something was gravely wrong. Finally, we met with a neurologist, where an MRI detected the worst…
I had a brain tumor. I was only 13 years old.
I was diagnosed with a non-germinomatous germ cell tumor (NGGCT) pressed against my optic nerve and wrapped around the pituitary gland. Immediately, my team of doctors, specialists, nurses, child-life specialists, physical therapists and more at Texas Children’s Cancer Center began drafting a treatment plan of chemotherapy and radiation especially designed for me.
I underwent 6 rounds of chemotherapy, from June to October. Although it was a struggle, I fought to keep my spirits lifted. I found encouragement throughout the hospital — with different staff members, like the housekeeper who would come by with words of wisdom, to my own nurse who was a cancer survivor. Singing “Dream Big” with Texas Children’s Hospital Purple Songs Can Fly and visiting the Radio Lollipop studio on the 16th floor also kept the arts in my life.
After finishing chemotherapy at Texas Children’s Hospital, I then continued with 33 days of proton radiation at M.D. Anderson through November and December. On December 22, 2009, I finally reached the finish line of treatment.
I just celebrated my 17th birthday and have almost reached the milestone of 3 years cancer free. While I still struggle with some side effects from my bout with cancer, I pride myself on remaining optimistic and uplifting. I hope I can continue to be an example of the power of positivity!