Grace was 10 when she was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma. She underwent surgeries and rigorous treatment for two years. Her doctors told her there was nothing else they could do. She and her parents visited several hospitals seeking help, but was told repeatedly there were no treatment options. They refused to give up hope. Finally, at Sloan Kettering in New York City, “a doctor spoke to me while looking me in the eyes, rather than just at my chart,” Grace says. “These doctors took a chance and believed in me when no other place did.” After another year of extensive treatment, she was cancer free in December of 2015.
Unfortunately, after 5 years in remission, her cancer came back during her junior year of high school, right as the pandemic surged. She started working with her ECF caseworker during this relapse. “She is always there for me, and I can check in with her anytime,” she says. Despite intense side effects from her treatment, Grace continued being a top student and running her own charity, called the Cookie’s Crumblers Foundation, to raise money for childhood cancer research.
She is now 18 and cancer free, studying theater at NYU. Grace is one of the recipients of ECF’s new scholarship fund (made possible by caring people like you). She is very excited to be in college and studying what she loves. Grace is also trying to bring attention to what “life after cancer is really like in the long term,” through vulnerable, honest posts on Instagram. “You are in the hospital for a few years with constant invasive treatment…and then thrown back into this new ‘normal’,” Grace says. “There is a lot of pressure to seem fine. I had to learn it is ok to feel bad.” Her love of life and big dreams drive her forward. In her scholarship application essay she writes, “I am always reaching further, being stronger….. I am bigger than a percentage of survival, bigger than a diagnosis, bigger than a statistic.”
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