The ‘silver lining’ of cancer treatment

Teen patient shares her 10-year journey

Feb. 27, 2007, is a date that will be engrained in my mind forever. It was the day I found out I had cancer.

I had a brain tumor and hydrocephalus, and had to get surgery and start treatment right away. As a little kid I had no idea what these words meant or how my life would change from being a peppy, active 7-year-old to being a cancer patient who would have to get through many, many treatments.

Ten years later, here I am — 12 brain surgeries, two months of radiation and nine rounds of chemotherapy. I feel happy and healthy (well, at least what I would consider healthy). I’ve faced lots of challenges medically, and I would not be the happy and healthy person that I am today if it weren’t for Norton Children’s Hospital.

Even though I’ve had a lot of painful treatments, the positive memories definitely outweigh the negative ones. It’s a silver lining to be treated in such a caring place. When I come for testing, all the secretaries in registration know me by name. They are all so sweet, even if it is six in the morning!

I’ve been told by many of the techs that I hold the record for most MRIs. They are also patient. Even if I flinch and start dancing because a good song comes on, or if I have to sneeze, they wait and redo the image. I’ve been to many hospitals out of town because of how complicated my cancer is, and Norton Children’s Hospital’s MRI team is by far the best.

I’ve also become very close with all the nurses in sedation. I have really hard veins, so whenever I need to get an IV, I go there. As you get older and poked and prodded countless times, your veins can start to become difficult. The most that I have ever been stuck to get one IV was 13 times! They ended up having to go into my foot. And don’t worry, that was at a different hospital out of town.

Sandra is one of those nurses. She has done almost all of my IVs since the beginning. She’s an ace — only one stick almost every time. I swear we are besties for life. We always joke that one day we are going to have a blood themed party because we get so excited when she “gets blood.”

All of my doctors here are so amazing. My radiologist, Dr. Moeller, knows me and loves to check in on me and see how I’m doing. My neurosurgeon, Dr. Moriarty, is always kind, caring and understanding. He tries to cut as little hair possible because he knows that I am a teen girl — nonetheless a cancer patient — who absolutely loves her hair! My oncology team — Dr. Raj, Dr. Huang and Monique (physician’s assistant) — is the best too. I’ve basically grown up with them.

Norton Children’s Hospital is the reason I’m standing here today, still looking and feeling fabulous. I owe it all to you guys. If I had one thing to say to Norton Children’s Hospital it would be …

Thank you.

Norton Healthcare and the University of Louisville recently announced the formation of Norton Children’s Cancer Institute. Combining the efforts of Norton Cancer Institute and Norton Children’s Hospital, in affiliation with the University of Louisville, Norton Children’s Cancer Institute aims to provide improved access and additional services to care for kids fighting cancer. Learn more about the journey here.