Sometimes when you are faced with challenges in life you find an inner strength that you didn’t know existed. Your resilience pushes you forward and that courage becomes contagious to others. I am incredibly proud to share the story of one young man who has been overcoming his obstacle of cancer by handcrafting toy sized MRI/CT machines to help other kids cope with their treatments.
I got cancer (Lymphoma) for my 16th birthday. I didn’t realize what it was until almost 2 months later, but I was very tired all the time. So, I knew something was wrong. To make a very long story short; while in the hospital getting chemo treatments, the child life specialist suggested I can help other kids cope with their treatments too. I am good with my hands and enjoy making things, so they suggested I make a model of an MRI machine that they could show it to other kids. It might reduce some of the stress of the treatment if kids could see what was going to happen.
My dad and I discussed options and came up with a plan. When I got back to my high school wood shop class I proposed the project to my teacher. He liked the idea and let me proceed with making one for my class project. When complete and after my cancer was in remission, I presented the project to the UNMC (University of Nebraska Medical Center) child life specialist, Lisa. She loved it and successfully used it with other kids helping them understand an MRI.
Unfortunately, about a year after my treatments were completed, my cancer returned. So, I was back at the med-center for a bone marrow transplant, radiation treatments and more chemo. Lisa found me again and suggested I make more of these for other sites. Since she had success with it, she thought others would too. After I got out of the hospital this time, I went back to my shop teacher and asked if I could make more. Again, he was very supportive and allowed some other students to help me produce 6 more. I was in a time crunch since this was now the final quarter of my senior year. I hadn’t been in school all year and it was rather iffy as to how much I could tolerate even for this last quarter. But we managed to get them done before graduation. My cancer has been in remission, so far, since the last treatments. It’s now just a matter of recovery from the second session – seems like a very long process. Now I am determining if other hospitals/clinics would have a need for these devices. I currently have 6, but could make more if there proves to be a need.