Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Sarah R. on April 26, 2010
I was Diagnosed with:
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Date of Diagnosis:
September 21, 1990
Employment Status:
Type and Description of Treatments:
I went through 3 years of chemo, steroids, bone-marrow biopsies, blood tests, and spinal taps.
How do you feel today?

I feel pretty good today, hopeful because I have a job interview on Wednesday with the Starlight Children's Foundation; a non-profit for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

Well, I was five years old when I was diagnosed so I guess everything in my life has changed and will change.

What is going well for you right now?

I had just finished an internship with the American Cancer Society. I helped with the Daffodil Days program. I have also been volunteering with the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Boston for a year and a half where I help with office/ receptionist work, work on housekeeping/ organizational tasks, check-out guests upon departure, give tours, train new volunteers, and manage groups of college students who come to volunteer. I am also the Advocacy Chair for the Relay For Life of Boston.

What is not going well for you right now?

I'm in a part-time job I don't enjoy and I graduated from college last May and I have a very hard time finding full-time work. And I love my parents and everything but, I'm 25 years old, I need to move out and be independent but, that's not happening because I can't get full time work.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

I think the psychosocial issues have been the most challenging thing for me. When I was diagnosed people in school could not deal with the fact that one of the kids has cancer. The adults were afraid of me which led my peers (and we all know that children model adults, especially adults in authority) to be afraid of me too. I spent 7 very isolated years in public school until I was transferred to a school for students with learning disabilities (thank God) because the chemo caused moderate to severe brain damage. If it weren't for that special ed school, I would have never gone to college.

When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?

My friends who are also cancer survivors, and my friends who aren't cancer survivors too, and my parents.

How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?

I've only been alive for 25 years, so I don't really know the answer to this question.

What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?

I work at the American Red Cross 16 hours a week Thursdays 5-9, Saturdays 10-2, and Sundays 2-8.