Thriving after Surviving: Young Brain Cancer Survivors

Astrocytoma. Pineoblastoma. Medulloblastoma. Germinoma. Terrifying words, all of which translate into terrifying diagnoses: brain tumors.

Battling cancer is something a young, vibrant kid, working hard to find their place in the world, should not have to deal with. Cancer in kids is unfair and cosmically wrong. When that diagnosis is brain cancer, the road to survival may seem impossible. But not to the 10 young brain cancer survivors who received a 2014 Cancer for College scholarship.

Out of 74 Cancer for College scholarships awarded this year, 10 of those were to young men and women who battled brain cancer. What resilience and strength of character it must take to survive such adversity and to come through with the drive and motivation to jump fully back into life.

Below are faces — healthy and vibrant — of some of those tenacious collegiates.

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Bailey Quishenberry was diagnosed with an astrocytoma brain tumor at age 14. Bailey had a complicated road to recovery, which included two brain surgeries.   One of Bailey’s nurses shares a story which defines Bailey’s compassion and character: “Bailey was despondent to learn that many of the children around her spent much of their lives in the hospital. She asked all of her friends and relatives to donate new stuffed animals to the children’s hospital, and more than 300 people brought comfort toys to be given to the ER and to recovering children in other units.  She was too ill to help personally, but she found a way to make a difference even from her hospital bed.” Bailey is now a freshman at UC Riverside studying environmental science.

Molly Modeste-Martin survived a pylocytic astrocytoma — twice. She was diagnosed when she was just three years old, and again when she was 12. Despite multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, Molly continued her love of sports, including basketball and track, and has bravely shared her story in order to raise funds for cancer research. Molly’s doctor writes, “She has required extensive therapy over the years including multiple surgeries and chemotherapy…despite all of that, Molly has evolved to be a brilliant and charming young woman.” Molly is now a freshman at Santa Clara University majoring in communications and public relations

Megan Richards was diagnosed with a non-germinamatous stem cell brain tumor at nine years old. “The tumor itself wasn’t rare,” Megan tells us, “but the location of it was. The physicians had only seen it once before, and it was in an adult not a child.” But after intensive chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, Megan survived her tumor and is now a freshman at Gardner Webb University working toward her nursing degree. “She is eager to make a difference in her world,” writes one of Megan’s nurses.

Joshua Walker is also a two-time survivor. He was diagnosed with a germinoma brain tumor at five years old and again at 16. “The treatment for this cancer was horrendous,” writes his doctor. “Yet, through all of this Josh remained an example of the best of his generation.” The oldest of five children, Josh, at 17 years old, used his Make-a-Wish to give his family an unforgettable Christmas. “I would be their secret Santa!” he tells us. Now a freshman at Brigham Young University studying engineering, Josh shares, “I am just about to finish my first semester of college! Life is good!”

Samantha Loch survived a medulloblastoma when she was 15, had an intensive treatment and a difficult recovery. “Sammy is truly remarkable in the amazing way she has met all the unexpected challenges in her life,” writes one of Sammy’s doctors. Sammy herself told us recently, “this is the first year since my diagnosis in 2009 that my life has not been dictated by disease, treatment, pain or surgeries. “It has been a wonderful year full of fun, excitement, learning and adventure.” Sammy is a junior at Western Washington University majoring in sociology and psychology.

Cancer for College is so proud and inspired by Bailey, Molly, Megan, Joshua, Sammy, and all of our scholarship recipients.

Wishing everyone a safe, joyous and healthy holiday season.

Cancer for College is a non-profit organization which provides college scholarships to cancer survivors. We are accepting applications for scholarships for the 2015-16 school year through January 31, 2015. Please click here for application details.

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