How Noëlle experienced it not once, but twice

Twelve years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 32. Despite being only 9 years old at the time, I experienced everything very consciously. From the moment my father picked us up from school, I knew enough; it was clear that something was wrong. The once-distant term "cancer" became an immediate and painful reality for our family. It started with a Pap smear, then a small piece being cut away, and eventually, her entire uterus was removed. Unfortunately, that wasn't all; there were metastases in the lymph nodes, so she had to undergo further treatment with chemotherapy and radiation. Fortunately, after all that, the cancer disappeared and stayed away. My mother was cured, and as a family, we could move forward.

Until four weeks ago, when we learned that, this time, it wasn't my mother but my father grappling with cancer. Throat cancer to be precise, but initially, we didn't know much more in the first few weeks. In an instant, you're back to being a scared 9-year-old girl because, especially in the beginning, all you can do is wait. You feel so powerless, and it's surreal to realize that our family has once again entered this rollercoaster. You almost start feeling guilty because, of course, you wouldn't wish it on anyone, but why did it have to be my Dad, why did it have to be us again?

The initial results are back, and thankfully, they are mostly positive. There are no signs of metastasis, although we were all somewhat counting on them. On March 13th, he will begin treatment with proton therapy, a relatively new form of radiation that should result in fewer side effects as it doesn’t affects healthy tissue as much. This type of treatment is more favorable for his cancer and has been made possible through research. By participating in Students Fight Cancer, I hope to contribute to such studies and, more broadly, to the cure for cancer. I have had to witness up close twice now how cancer can suddenly turn your whole world upside down and want to do everything I can to ensure fewer people go through this.

Although Dad faces a long and challenging journey ahead, we all have confidence that he can overcome it. He is only 46, otherwise healthy, and the 'positive' results from the initial scans give us hope. In the meantime, I run for Students Fight Cancer, for my parents, and for all the other people who must deal with this terrible disease.