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A little girl in the hospital smiles with her grandfather.

"I am 26, soon to be 27, and have had cancer twice. When I was 2 years old, and again when I was 9, I was diagnosed with a rare form of a rare cancer - astrocytoma. While this type of cancer is normally a brain tumor, mine was actually found in my spine.

 

Unfortunately, there was no protocol for how to treat this specific cancer. Instead, they removed as much as they could. I went through multiple courses of chemotherapy. Luckily, between the chemo and the surgery, they were able to get me back into remission both times. 

 

Fast forward 18 years and I am still in remission. I go to the oncologist for an annual MRI and check-up. Unfortunately, I have rheumatoid arthritis as a side effect of the chemotherapy treatments. I have also had at least 15 surgeries, including ones on my feet, back and head. I also walk with a limp. 

 

Despite all of this, I am here today. I am the person that I am because of it. Without the diagnosis and experience, I would most likely not be in a job I love working as the membership coordinator at the Stoney Creek YMCA. I love being able to meet new people and help others on their health journeys through their Y memberships.

 

I grew up wanting to help others. Because of that, I work for the Y and get to help not only those in the facility but also those in the community."