Our Champion Survivors

Madeline, Sacrococcygeal Teratoma Survivor
Diagnosed at age 2

At age 2  I was diagnosed with Sacrococcygeal Teratoma and it was really hard and scary. I spent many days in the hospital and fondly remember walking the floors of the hospital with all of my family. My most favorite time was when I would visit the solar system mural in the lobby. My uncles, both grandpas and my Dad would throw me up on their shoulders so I could touch each planet. I knew all of the names of the planets by heart! Battling cancer was the fight of my life, but I have learned many valuable lessons, which have shaped who I am today:

FIGHT - With everything you have, with all your might and NEVER give up!
BE HAPPY - Find what makes you happy and it will ease your suffering.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF - If you believe in yourself anything is possible!
LOVE - The greatest and most powerful force is love! and a powerful weapon that breaks cancer down!

At age 10 I am a CANCER SURVIVOR! I celebrated my 10th birthday on June 15th, 2014 and am entering 5th grade. A fun fact about me is that I am a hula-hoop champion! My interests include cats! I love drawing cats, reading about cats and taking care of my cat Sluggo. I am a junior brownie, dance hip-hop and play volleyball. I even tried the cello this year. There are five people in my family - Dad, Mom, Me, my Brother Nicky and my Sister Jacqueline. We have a great time together! I am inspired by the quote "What defines us is how we rise after falling," and I am devoted to continue rising, rising, rising!!! Cohen Children's Medical Center is a magical place and was our home away from home for a long period of time in my life. We came in contact with THE MOST AMAZING DOCTORS, NURSE ANGELS and STAFF. We are forever grateful for all that was done to lead me to my cure!

 

Carly, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Survivor
Diagnosed at ages 7 and 12

At ages 7 and 12  I was diagnosed with with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L) and at the time I didn't have too much of an understanding as to what was going on. All I knew was that I was sick and unable to attend second grade. After 2 and a half years of treatment I was able to go back to school and get my life back on track and catch up with all that I missed. After 3 years and 2 months off treatment my life was ripped out from under my feet once more. I was 12 years old when I relapsed with the same cancer. This time I fell under the high risk spectrum. Now I could go on about how horrible it was, but despite the bad times I met alot of amazing people during my time at Cohen Children's.

At age 18 I am Cancer free. Even though the past 10 years of my childhood was stolen by cancer I have no bitterness about it. Despite the long term side effects of high dose chemo, I have put all of my effort into my studies. It was a struggle, but last year as a junior in high school everything just clicked and it felt amazing! I understood everything so much clearer, and my continuous hard work and studying brought me to a 97 average and I was inducted into the National Honor Society. I am even prouder to say I will be graduating this year in the class 2015 and plan to pursue a degree in American Sign Language at college. My experience with cancer made me wonder: was getting cancer all such a bad thing? Or was it meant to open my eyes to something more, to find a way to make a difference. With this in mind I held my first blood/bone marrow drive. Shortly after I began to speak for the New York Blood Center to help bring awareness to the importance of blood, platelets, and bone marrow donations. But I still wanted to do something more, something to help families of children with life threatening illnesses directly; so my mom started The Carly Rose Foundation and we will be helping these families in the near future.

 

Nicole, Leukemia Survivor
Diagnosed at ages 2 and 6

At ages 2 and 6  I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I was treated with two and a half years of chemotherapy. I relapsed at age six, and received another year of chemotherapy. I slipped into a semi-conscious coma making this experience an even harder time for my family. I came out of the coma a couple months later to learn that I now had the capabilities of a newborn baby. I had to relearn everything from eating to talking and walking. My family and I were very determined to get me back on my feet. With the help of my parents friends, nurses, physical, occupational and speech terapists, I was ready to face the world! Cohen Children's Medical Center treated me so well while I was sick. Everyone there is incredible; I do not know if I would be where I am today if I wasn't treated there. The doctors, nurses and social workers took such great care of me and supported my parents during these terrible years. I think the key thing for patients receiving treatment is to believe in and trust their physicians and nurses. Patients should always stay positive in their recovery and never give up on themselves.

At age 20 I have been cancer free for fourteen years. I am a sophmore at Molloy College with a GPA of 3.5. I am studying social work because I would love to work in the medical field helping cancer patients and the disabled to succeed and live a full life. With my story, I think that I have a lot to offer people. At school, I am involved in the Social Work club, the L.E.A.D club and Italian club. L.E.A.D club is about spreading awareness about disabilities to staff and fellow students. We go into classrooms and speak about our experiences in school as people with disabilities. Our goal is to help future educators understand more about students with disabilities. Everyday is a challenge for me, but I am always able to overcome them. I was left with neurological disabilities including being hearing impaired, visually challenged, fine motor disabled and Balbar palsy. Despite all the obstacles that I have faced throughout my life, I do not let them stop me from being successful and enjoying life.

 

Katelynn, Neuroblastoma Survivor
Diagnosed at age 11 months

At age 11 months a mass was found on my carotid artery through a CT-Scan. The next day I was brought to CCMC. After much testing and a biopsy; I was diagnosed with Intermediate Neuroblastoma stage 4, days before my first birthday. My parents were devastated and that is where my journey began. I was given an MRI and more tumors were found in my lymph nodes and scans showed additional tumors in my abdomen and chest. I had a meda-port put in my chest and had two lymph nodes removed all in one surgery. I was also given four sessions of chemo therapy for three months.

At age 4 I am a survivor and have been declared cancer free. I could not have done it without the great team of doctors at CCMC. Dr. Fish is very supportive and has always been very attentive to my family's concerns about my future. The nursing staff, medical staff and administrative staff have been amazing. With the emotional ups and downs, they have been extremely kind and helpful. My family and I feel blessed to have so many great people in our lives. We will be connected to them and Cohen Children's Medical Center forever.

 

Joe, Neuroblastoma Survivor
Diagnosed at age 20 months

At age 20 months I was diagnosed with stage 3 Neuroblastoma. I had surgery, chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and radiation treatments. During my hopsital stays at CCMC, my favorite parts were the clowns that would visit and the Lorna Doone cookies I was given for snacks. My parents were very appreciative of the nurses who made this time bearable for them. My family and I cannot thank them enough for all the medical and moral support they gave us during this tough time.

At age 14 I am currently a sophmore at West Islip High School. I am a first degree blackbelt in Shaolin Kempo Karate. I have played many instruments and am currently learning piano and percussion. I was a 2013 Relay for Life captain of team Cancerinators.

 

Shoshana, Osteosarcoma Survivor
Diagnosed at age 16

At age 16 I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma while I was a sophmore in high school and underwent surgeries, ports, and chemotherapy. I had to re-learn how to use my leg after surgery and wore a big clunky brace. I was very self conscience of my repaired leg with all of the scars, and I wouldn't wear shorts. Once I got to college and took classes on orthotics, I learned how to use a much smaller brace. I also met my future husband in college, who really helped me realize I was beautiful and whole.

At age 34 I am married and a mom to three children. I had a relapse in college and again after I got married. My first son Aaron was actually timed between my scheduled CT scans. I recently started running 5ks to stay in shape and alleviate some of the side effects of all of my treatments. The Survivors Facing Forward Program has made a huge difference in my life. They help me understand and manage long term side effects, like hearing loss, and help me prevent bronchitis from all the lung surgeries I've had.

 

Stefanie, Hodgkin's Disease and Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Survivor
Diagnosed at age 11

At age 11 I was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin's Disease and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. After a year of treatment at Cohen Children's Medical Center and home tutoring, I resumed school with my same-aged classmates. One year later, when I turned 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. I underwent more chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and had a Bone Marrow Transplant for which my youngest sister, Danielle, was a perfect match. I was cured and have been cancer-free for 16 years.

At age 28 I am currently working on my dissertation for my PhD in Psychology from Fordham University, which examines the health behavior choices of childhood cancer survivors. Every time I hear the story of a young person's cancer experience through my research, I am reminded of how fortunate I was to have such a strong and dedicated team of doctors at CCMC; and still do, as a patient of the Survivors Facing Forward Program. This winter celebrates 16 years of good health since my Bone Marrow Transplant. Transitioning from "cancer patient" to "cancer survivor" was a long and important process for me, and I've learned to appreciate all the good that comes with this hard-earned title.

 

Crystal, Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivor
Diagnosed at age 16

At age 16 I was diagnosed with cancer and began chemotherapy at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC). I missed most of my junior year of high school and was not able to participate in sports. However, I knew cancer would not stop me from achieving what I wanted to do in life.

At age 30 I am a patient of the Survivors Facing Forward program at CCMC and am proud to be working at North Shore University Hospital as a Physician’s Assistant in the Department of Surgery.

 

 

Thomas, Heptoblastoma Survivor
Diagnosed at age 3 months

At age 3 months my parents discovered an abnormal mass on the right side of my stomach. I was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma and I began six rounds of chemotherapy that weakened my immune system. As a result I had numerous trips to the emergency room and was readmitted to Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC). My parents tell me that through it all I was a happy and smiley baby.

At age 5 I’m a proud big brother to my sister Claire and I’m looking forward to having a new sibling to play with come December! I’m five years off treatment and a patient of the Survivors Facing Forward program at CCMC. While I have mild to medium hearing loss due to the chemotherapy, I have cool blue hearing aids that match the color of my favorite baseball team – the Mets!

 

Kirsten, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Survivor
Diagnosed at age 7

At age 7 I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. Shortly after my body rejected my first bone marrow transplant, I relapsed and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. My parents learned of a new technology called preimplantation genetic diagnosis which could help them have another child that would be a perfect match for my bone marrow. My twin brothers beside me ultimately saved my life.

At age 16 I am six years off treatment and a patient of the Survivors Facing Forward program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. I am currently a junior at Kellenberg Memorial High School where I have maintained a 96 average while also playing for the softball team. After graduation, I intend to go to college and eventually work towards my goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist.

 

Luke, Rhabdomyosarcoma Survivor
Diagnosed at age 19 months

At age 19 months I was diagnosed with Rhabdomysosarcoma and I spent nearly a year at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC), including Christmas. My parents tell me that we didn’t “miss Christmas” at all – Santa came to visit me Christmas morning and gave me a toy truck and the social work staff cleared out a conference room for us to have Christmas dinner with our family. My grandparents, aunts and uncles all showed up with food and we had a great holiday feast!

At age 12 I am a patient in the Survivors Facing Forward program at CCMC and I am attending middle school in Massapequa. I am excelling in my classes and involved in karate, baseball, golf and basketball. I was a finalist in my district’s science fair the past two years in a row, and I’m excited to be a part of the Science Olympiad team this year! Strange as it may seem, our family looks back at our time at CCMC with fondness, not despair. We have come to actually miss the environment and people that have moved on to welcome other families into their home.

 

Alicia, Ewing's Sarcoma (PNET) Survivor
Diagnosed at age 6

At age 6 an MRI discovered a tumor lodged in my spine. After the tumor was removed, I was diagnosed with Peripheral Neuroectodermal Tumor and I began 17 cycles of chemotherapy and 25 cycles of radiation, occurring over the course of a year. While it may have been a tough time, there isn’t a single thing I would change about it. I have the greatest mother a person could ask for and the other patients and staff became like another part of my family. My mother and I developed The Honeysuckle Foundation for Children with Cancer which for nearly ten years has supported the psychosocial program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) that provides patients with the emotional and social support they deserve.

At age 16 I live in Naples, Florida. I am a senior in high school and I still return to New York for patient visits to the Survivors Facing Forward program at CCMC. I am a straight-A student and a member of my school’s flag line. I hang out with my friends all the time and I don’t think I could be happier. My experience with cancer has shaped me as a person and how I view life.

 

Tracy, Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivor
Diagnosed at age 16

At age 16 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease Stage 3A and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 1A. I had two different types of cancer at once, and my sister had just finished treatment for Hodgkin’s disease seven months prior. I had numerous surgeries, a medi-port put in (the best gift my parents ever gave me) and a year of chemo-therapy and radiation. Treatment was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. There were many bumps in the road during treatment, but my family, friends and doctors helped me be positive and fight hard while I was at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC), my home away from home.

At age 39 I’m a Special Education Teacher. Every year I visit my Survivorship Doctor, who makes sure I am pro-active about my health. There have been some scares along the way, but I try to do everything I can to keep myself healthy. Surviving cancer is such a gift. I am so grateful for everyone who has helped me survive. As a result, I started my own foundation Friends and Angels: The Tracy Vicere Foundation to benefit the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at CCMC.

 

To make a donation to support the Division of Hematology/ Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at Cohen Children’s Medical Center Click Here

 
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Contact Us

Giustine Altschuler

Senior Director, CCMC
516-465-2572
galtschuler@nshs.edu

Randee Bloch

Director, Development
516-465-2551
rbloch@nshs.edu

Victoria Maccone

Manager, Children's Miracle Network at CCMC
516-465-2558
vmaccone@nshs.edu