My name is Krista and I’m a pediatric cancer survivor. Next year will be 20 years since being diagnosed. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a pediatric cancer of the lymph nodes, at the age of 13. Immediately following the diagnosis, I had to prepare for surgeries and chemo treatments. It was not easy and was by far the most difficult time in my life. Starting off my teenage years losing all my hair and being so sick was the hardest time to endure. I’ll never forget the feeling of extreme insecurity combined with mental and physical weakness. The feeling of defeat never went away throughout all my treatments and for many years after. Everyone always tells you to feel strong and to have hope but in reality, you feel the weakest, without the energy needed to feel hope. It was summer going in to High School, my peers were having the time of their life, and I was inside protecting myself from the germs and the sun that would potentially cause harm to someone enduring chemotherapy. Westchester Medical Center was my second home and I’ll never forget the amazing nurses and doctors that are so unbelievable devoted to their patient care.
Now, I am happy to say I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt. I’m 32 years old, a pediatric nurse and a new mom to a 10-month old baby girl. Being a cancer survivor makes you look at life in a completely different way than before. I now feel no mountain is too high and no hurdle is too tough to overcome. Being a cancer survivor gave me confidence that is untouchable. When you’ve seen and been through the worst, you realize that day to day little stresses are manageable. Seeing very sick kids and babies hooked up to IV poles giving them chemo will make you question a lot about life. It’s hard to understand the “whys” when it comes to pediatric cancers because it is such a horrible thing. It’s a world that I hope no one has to experience personally. I thank God every day for foundations such as the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, that do all they can for these wonderful families that have to go through the unimaginable. As a new mom, I can’t even slightly envision what it feels like to be a parent of these beautiful children going through such a difficult time in their lives. As a pediatric cancer survivor, I can tell you it is so hard to have cancer at such a young age… but, now I know life is precious and to enjoy every minute given and the importance to always give your little ones a little extra loving!