Life is supposed to be pretty simple when you are 10 years old. You go to school, play with your friends, hang out with your family and enjoy all of the great things that come with being a kid.
My life, though, became very complicated when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. My doctors told me I had a form of brain cancer called a medulloblastoma, a tumor on my cerebellum that was the size of a large lemon.
Brain and spine tumors make up about 20 percent of all childhood cancers, the second most common form of childhood cancer after leukemia. This year, about 2,000 kids in the United States will be diagnosed with a brain tumor.
I had successful surgery to remove my tumor, but it was malignant and I needed more treatment. The cancer had spread to my spine, which made me "high-risk," meaning a survival rate of about 30 percent based on the standard available treatment. But I was lucky, because I didn't have the standard treatment -- I was able to take part in a clinical trial that offered a new approach.
I went through 31 rounds of high dose radiation treatment to my brain and spine, as well as chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. It wasn't easy -- it was painful, exhausting and scary. But I knew I had to do it to get better.
Today, there has been no evidence of cancer in me for a few years. I won't be considered in remission until I am cancer-free for five years, but I'm getting there! I play field hockey, I love going to the beach and shopping. I've learned to live life one day at a time and enjoy everything it has to offer.
There are a lot of kids like me struggling with cancer and fighting for their lives every day. I do whatever I can to give them hope and encourage them to fight with all of their strength. And I also work to raise awareness about childhood cancer and the impact it has on all of us -- not just kids.
Think about how many kids lose their battles with cancer every year, and how much potential is lost with each life. What if Steve Jobs had died when he was seven instead of 57?
I'm living proof of why we have to support Stand Up To Cancer. SU2C is leading the way by funding researchers who are working together to find answers and develop new treatment options quickly. We need more research into the kind of cancer that attacked me and other kids. The researchers are making incredible progress in coming up with therapies that are more effective and less toxic.
As a Stand Up To Cancer national ambassador, I appeared in the first two Stand Up To Cancer broadcasts to share my story and hopefully inspire people to care and get involved. It was exciting to attend the third fundraising special on September 7, which was another great success -- more than $81 million has been pledged so far.
All of us can do something, whether it's raising or donating money to support research into different types of cancer, or even just showing our support in some way for kids and adults who are battling this disease.
You can still make a pledge to Stand Up To Cancer. I hope everyone who reads this will take the time to help make a difference.
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