I am a childhood cancer survivor:
In November, 2003 at 12 years old I had a seizure in school. Doctors later found a brain tumor on the left motor cortex (the area that controls movement on the right side). In February 2004, I had surgery to remove the tumor, resulting in lingering physical and cognitive deficits.
I am an ocean conservationist and world traveler:
This experience taught me to live life to the fullest, and for a decade I was fortunate to live an amazing life traveling the world. I went to college, became an EMT, advocated for climate change action, joined conservation efforts in Madagascar, sailed a tallship through the high seas, and after college received a fellowship to work in Indonesia. In February, 2014 I celebrated my 10 year anniversary being cancer free from the serene rice paddies of Bali.
I am a young adult cancer survivor:
In November, 2014 I returned home from Indonesia for what was supposed to be a brief Thanksgiving vacation. After 10 years of stability, my MRI scans showed significant tumor growth surrounding the resection cavity of my original surgery. This recurrence, and navigating the emotional hurdles of cancer, catalyzed the creation of this blog. Due to the tumor’s location in the motor cortex, the doctors considered my tumor inoperable. As I went through over a year of radiation and chemotherapy, this blog evolved alongside my journey with cancer. Watch this NESN Jimmy Fund Profile to hear my story.
I am a medical student:
To use my experience to give back to others in a way that values human connection, I decided to apply to medical school while undergoing treatment. I am now a medical and graduate student in the U.C. Berkeley – UCSF Joint Medical Program. As a patient turned medical student, I experienced an identity shift in how I see myself and how others view me.
I am taking on brain cancer…again:
I have always known it was a matter of “when”, not “if” my tumor would recur. It’s the uncertain reality of living with brain cancer as a chronic illness. Treatment in 2014/2015 was meant to kick the can of recurrence down the road. I thought I had more than 3 years, but in March, 2018 after experiencing several localized seizures in my right arm, my MRI scans showed new growth. For me, writing is one of the most effective treatments for the physical and emotional challenges of cancer. As my journey moves forward into this new chapter, my blog will continue to evolve. I hope my writing helps you as much as it will help me.
…Since my recurrence in March, 2018, I have gone through an awake brain surgery, a precision medicine therapy that failed, radiation, and now indefinite immunotherapy treatments. Feel free to read through my blog to follow the practical and emotional aspects of my life with brain cancer.
I am an advocate:
I am a writer, speaker, co-moderator for #BTSM, adviser for the Dana Farber Young Adult Program, fundraiser & advocate with the National Brain Tumor Society, ambassador for EndWell, along with many other positions.
I do this because I want all that I’ve been through to be worth it. No person should have to go through brain cancer, but if I am going to face it, I am going to use my experiences to help others.
Please feel free to contact me for any writing, speaking, or other opportunities.
The journey continues…