Stephanie Tran Rojas, Nu’20
“Health has a domino effect in the way it impacts daily living and self-image. As a childhood cancer survivor, having cancer has played a huge role in the early insecurities I had to overcome and grow out of in my later years. “Do they see me as that cancer girl? Is my hair weird? Are they wondering why I always wear a hat around? Do the steroids still make me look super chubby?” These were various thoughts I had while going through active treatment and early remission. Your diagnosis becomes a label and an identity for many people, not just because it impacts daily living but also because it seeps into your public image. Many kids starting looking at me differently, tip-toeing around me or outright staring when I had to come to school with a medical mask on or bandages from blood draws. Moving on from that was a childhood battle.
I can’t really describe a specific scenario from that time that stands out, so much as I remember specific faces and the smiles of so many nurses. People who helped me come out of my shell for the first time in my life since I was a naturally shy girl. They were caring and friendly and bright, and I felt so safe around them that the hospital did not seem so scary to me, even as a 9-year-old. They always had great conversations with my dad and me and helped make me laugh and blush like a normal kid. Although the strong chemical smells and the like were always around, my experience in the hospital was not necessarily unpleasant because of my nurses.”
Photo by Sean Legg
To submit your own story, visit: www.nursing.upenn.edu/humans.