“I’m a cancer survivor and I work here at CHEO. I had a soft-tissue tumor in my right cheek when I was 2-years old. I completed the treatment when I was 3-years old. I don’t really remember much of the process, but I do know about the other side of the treatment, which is the kind of thing that a lot of people don’t think about. After you go through a cancer treatment, you deal with a lot of late effects throughout your entire life. So, I had to deal with a lot of hormone issues – I had to get hormone injections when I was going through puberty. I had a lot of reconstruction surgeries because growth was not on the same level as someone who didn’t have cancer. It’s tough but it’s manageable. Things were really good for me until grade 12. My last appointment here at CHEO was my transition appointment. So, they did a routine MRI and they found that the radiation that received when I was a kid caused another tumor to grow. So, at 18 I was diagnosed with Meningioma – a tumor that originates on the lining of your brain. The surgery was scary. At the end of it I came out ok but I lost my sense of smell. So, that was pretty interesting actually. From this point on I don’t smell anything but it’s a small price to pay compare to the bigger things that other people had to go through. That was at the end of high school throughout first year of university. There was a lot on my plate but I pressed on and continued with my studies. I went to Ottawa U for Biology. I chose it because of the experiences that I had – I wanted to give back to the community and make sure that I was able to provide care in a healthcare setting.”


“I started a project in university called ‘stars in the jar’. It’s an initiative to connect survivors of cancer with kids that are undergoing treatment right now. A lot of times kids feel kind of isolated and they feel like no one else understands what they’re going through. So, this is the way to make sure they know that they’re not alone – they can go through a treatment and make it. The way it works is that we have a website where you can order a particular survivor’s jar. For example, my jar is my message to a patient. So, I constructed a hundred messages to be written out and folded and to put into this jar. We gift this for free to patients and they can open each star as kind of like a fortune cookie. And every day they read a small message. It could be a joke, it could be a story about my time in the hospital or, it could be anything but I hope it gives them the extra support when they need it. When I came out of treatment, it was difficult for me because I felt really different. But I think it took time throughout high school to be comfortable with myself and be confident with myself. I know that my story is unique and I know by telling it, it can help people and make them feel that they have hope.”

HUMANS OF OTTAWA 

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