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A Success Story - Brooke Alden

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Brooke Alden

Brooke graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, majoring in Biomedical Science.  Brooke's cancer experience has inspired her to make a difference in the lives of other cancer patients by working in the medical profession.  She has survived Osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  In her own words:

“It's funny how life works ...

I was very athletic all throughout my life.  I was always involved in a sport every season of the year, whether it be soccer, softball, or even football.  Sports was my life.  Unfortunately, all of that was brought to an end during my sixth grade year.  As I was leading my recess football team on a game-winning drive, I caught a pass over the middle and was tackled hard to the ground.  I was rushed to the emergency room, and it turned out I had broken my femur (thigh bone).  The doctors were rather concerned the hardest bone in my body had broken so easily; they knew it had to be something else.  I was immediately sent to Phoenix Children's Hospital.  They did a biopsy on my leg and two days later I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer (the day was my mother's birthday no less!).  I had nine months of intense chemotherapy and two limb salvage surgeries.  I was able to keep my leg.  I now have a titanium prosthesis that is most of my femur, all of my knee, and some of my tibia/fibula.  During these nine months, my teachers from school came to my house on days I was not in the hospital to keep me up to date.  I was beyond thankful that I didn't have to be held back.  In September of 2006, I was able to return to the seventh grade. 

It took me awhile to realize the actual impact this had made on my life.  I was only ten years old, so the concept of life-threatening cancer didn't occur to me until much later.  It was just a horrible experience all the way through.  And even after, I was always "that girl who had cancer" at school. 

I can confidently say that an extremely negative event in my life was actually beneficial to me.  I was forced to mentally and emotionally mature at such an early age; something I am now grateful for.  My outlook on life is so different now.  I have met so many amazing people because of this.  I can positively say that cancer has made me who I am today.  And I am not talking about, me, the girl with the scar on her leg.  Or, the girl who used to be bald.  I am saying me.  My heart and soul.  I am a better person because of cancer.  I think of it as a give and take.  My life of sports was taken away from me and I have an ongoing disability with my leg, but I was given a new perspective and can't imagine my life any other way. 

Another positive result of this is my since-found love for the medical field.  Being around medical staff and hospitals, day in and day out, inspired me.  Being a patient, as a child no less, I saw what I wanted in medical providers: what could be better or worse in how they did their jobs.  With the nurses who came to know me, I saw what a connection you can make with patients.  It really struck me as something I might want to do one day - even back then.  While I have not yet completely narrowed down the exact job, I will be going into the medical field.  I absolutely love to help others, so the idea of being able to cure someone's disease or even just ease their pain is so appealing to me.  I could only dream to have the same effect on another patient as what my doctors and nurses had on me. 

I have enjoyed my volunteer work.  I have worked at several cancer camps.  I have volunteered at a local hospice home, which is very rewarding in my opinion.  I have also tutored other students at my school.

Education is so very important to me.  I was brought up by two parents (and a stepfather) who were only able to afford a year or two at a community college.  They have instilled in me how vital it is to take full advantage of your education from the start, as they did not do (and now regret it).  From the very beginning, I was interested in learning.  My parents had separated early on, and I lived with my mother in Peoria.  When she wasn't working and I wasn't in school, she would teach me words and numbers in Spanish.  She also taught me about all 50 states.  By the time I was four, I could count to 100 in Spanish and I knew all my states and capitals.  When I started Kindergarten, they considered me too advanced and moved me to a first grade class.  I was what you call a "social butterfly," but I was always focused on my school work.

I am a student whose life experiences and passion for school have brought her to go into medicine and possibly become a medical provider to make a difference in another person just like me. 

... It's funny how life works.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Cancer Survivors' Fund for believing in me and helping me to jump into my medical training and give back as I make a difference in the lives of patients.

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