Rachael has been dubbed a Princess Tomboy by her family. A few minutes with this charming young 7-year-old and you will quickly see why. She embraces all the things little girls are supposed to love: art, ballet, piano lessons from her Dad, dolls and dressing like a princess. However, her older brother Marc, 10, has had a big impact on Rachael. From him, she has learned to play soccer and air hockey, climb trees, go camping and play computer games. She likes to win, but she likes her wins to be fair and square. She also builds with Legos—little houses and hangars for Marc’s Lego fighter planes! It’s easy to see through their interaction that Rachael and Marc have a very special relationship. Rachael’s close family was hit hard in 2009 when she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at the age of 5. Two surgeries and other treatments have restored her health, but sunscreen, sun protective clothing and hats are now an important part of her daily life, no matter what the activity. Her treatment for cancer was hard on the whole family, especially the family separations: Mom and Rachael in the hospital, Dad and Marc at home. Watching other children in treatment helped Rachael develop empathy for others and their needs. Rachael today is a vibrant, healthy and intelligent second grader. She enjoys school in her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. She keeps a journal as part of the curriculum at her elementary school. Her goal is to be an artist. With her whimsical Happy Angel in the 2011 Holiday Collection, she is well on her way to achieving that goal. And does she worry about cancer in her life? “No,” she says, “Mom does that for me!”
One word describes Jameisha—passionate. She is passionate about life, family, religion, friends and caring for other people. Her joy and enthusiasm bubble up in every smile and in her warm interaction with everyone she meets. Her philosophy is to live life to the fullest and to your full potential. She lives by that philosophy every day. “Meisha” was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma three weeks after she finished the second grade. She says CAP’s art classes provided an escape from treatment. Jameisha’s artwork published in the new children’s board book 1 2 3 Fun! reflects her childlike view of life at that early age. Once she graduated from high school, she moved on to college and was helped by CAP’s scholarship program, funded by product sales. Today, Meisha is 22 and a student at the University of Houston Main Campus, where she majors in health promotion and disease prevention with a minor in psychology. She already is involved in many things that will help her achieve her life goals. She is a member of Power 4 Life Ministries, Inc., a Christian outreach group in Houston. They help with health fairs that teach nutrition for children, give free eye exams and promote a healthy lifestyle for parents. Underserved communities are another of her passions—helping people who don’t have access to resources they need. She is also Chair of the Collegiate Cancer Council—UH that aims to educate the public about cancer prevention. After graduation, Meisha wants to go into public health and disease prevention. She also would like to be a motivational speaker. She says it is important for people to be encouraged and to believe they can do whatever they dream. Encouraging and mentoring can change someone’s attitude for a lifetime. Someday she wants to return to MD Anderson and give back what the institution gave her—hope and healing. She says it is the smallest thing she can do, to give back to MD Anderson’s patients. Meisha says, “I’m a life to be continued.” We want to watch that life, Meisha, and cheer you on along the way, for we have no doubt that all your goals and more will be fulfilled.
Caitlyn age 15, is a high school sophomore in Katy, Texas. She is a good student and an avid soccer player. For two weeks this past summer, she went to Germany with her soccer team! She loves to shop and socialize with her friends. She and her mother also work as volunteers with the Lady Bird Chapter of the National Charity League. Caitlyn’s encounter with Burkitt’s lymphoma was brief, intense and very successful, but the lessons she learned through rounds of chemotherapy still resonate in her life. She and her family have started a non-profit organization called Keep Kids Connected. After her own battle with cancer, Caitlyn wanted to give back to other children fighting cancer. The goal of Keep Kids Connected is to help every child battling cancer or any life-threatening illness by enabling them to stay connected to family and friends while they are away from home or isolated from visitors. They do this by providing a Netbook computer to children. Caitlyn knows first hand that contact with family and friends can brighten spirits and help children forget about their treatment while they are connected. The family raises money through donations and by hosting an annual spaghetti dinner. From the last dinner, they raised $5,000 to purchase computers and gave another $5,000 to the Children’s Cancer Hospital for research. Caitlyn has learned a great deal from her cancer treatment. She has participated in Camp A.O.K. the last two years—one of the programs funded by the Children’s Art Project. She learned that being bald was no big deal at camp. All the other kids understood what she was going through. Her desire to help others grew out of her treatment, and it has also helped her focus on a career choice. Caitlyn would like to be an anesthesiologist at MD Anderson so she can help in the treatment of children with cancer. That will be another long journey, but we know Caitlyn has the staying power and determination to make it!
Long is a native of Vietnam, and he and his family have traveled a far distance for him to be treated at the MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. His treatment for leukemia began in Vietnam, but his father thought the treatment there was ineffective. Like fathers everywhere, he wanted the best for his son. The father’s search for the best treatment brought them to Houston and the MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. At first it was only father and son in the United States, but the mother and baby sister were soon able to join them, bringing their family back together. Their plans for the future are still uncertain, as Long’s treatment continues. His prognosis is very good, and his parents say the MD Anderson team is amazing! At 11 years of age, Long has easily adapted to the new culture, American food and routines in the hospital. His English is great so there is no language barrier. He attends classes at the in-hospital school where math is his best subject. He says he’s good at math, but “not into it.” He participates in all the activities at the hospital, including CAP’s regular Tuesday art classes. A short time ago he won a prize for a poem written during the Writers in the School program, a segment of the Education and Creative Arts Program at the hospital. On a recent field trip to Houston’s Metro Rail Operations Center, he enjoyed “driving” the train in the simulator where the engineers are trained. Through heavy black smoke and a big dust storm, he kept the train on the tracks. Driving a taxi in the side-by-side automobile simulator, he did a great job until his taxi crashed into a train! No problem—remember, these were simulators, but they were lots of fun! Like most boys his age, Long loves to play soccer. He also enjoys discussing sci-fi ideas with his father— dream machines that could bring benefits to humans. To reach his dreams, he knows he must study hard! He is interested in space science, his violin, and action/adventure video games. He also adores his little sister, Mai, who is three, and he is a very good big brother! Mai adores her Long, as well, and laughs when he teases her. Family is an important part of Long’s life. Pulling together with the MD Anderson team, they are working their way through his cancer treatment.
Joshua age 12, is part of a big family: mom Ruth, dad Gordon, brother Ted, and sisters Miriam, Dorothy and Rachel. The family works together and plays together. It is this big family that has supported Josh in his treatment for medulloblastoma, a brain tumor that already has required six surgeries, plus chemotherapy and radiation. Originally from Tempe, Arizona, the family moved to Pearland, Texas so Josh could be treated at the MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. Joshua is home schooled with his siblings and is intent on learning everything he can. Math is a favorite subject and reading is so important he considers it a hobby! He is very involved in church and can memorize scripture after one reading. When he is not studying he is involved with Boy Scouts of America, where camping is a favorite activity. Josh already is climbing the ladder from Tenderfoot to Eagle, a planned effort of earning merit badges and community service, culminating in a big Eagle Scout project. In the summer, Josh takes all of his siblings to Camp Star Trails, one of the programs funded by the Children’s Art Project. It’s a great week of fun and activity for all. Josh avidly follows his favorite sports teams—the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Food and eating are also favorite activities, and he credits his mother’s wonderful cooking for this preference. Among his favorites are James River Waffles and Cheeseburger Soup. He also loves the French toast his dad makes on Saturday mornings. Learning, eating, scouting and playing with the family’s Wii are all favorite activities, but Joshua has a more important basis for his life. He calls it CTR, or “choose the right.” A short visit with this young man tells you he will always follow the CTR path.
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