Dear Cancer Support Community Arizona (CSCAZ) family,

Even though I’m in my teens, I have constant reminders that I’m a childhood cancer survivor.  #ughhh

For example, my eyes are constantly ‘watery’. My family and friends don’t even notice anymore but for people who don’t know me, they 

think I’m upset and have been crying. I’m forced to explain they are a side effect of my treatment. Another side effect is my slow 

metabolism which makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. It’s difficult to make smart food choices, so I have a nutritionist who’s helping me get healthy.

I’m going into my Junior year of high school and there have been times, especially in biology, where the subject of cancer is brought up. This is a subject that affects me deeply, so I’ll share that I’m a Leukemia survivor. My classmates, and sometimes my teachers, will start asking questions which can prompt a 

discussion that can get a little uncomfortable for me. Outside of my family and friends, I’m very shy. It’s hard for me to speak up but when I’m on the CSCAZ campus, I feel confident expressing myself.

“I feel safe because no one will judge me…..”

My mom and dad work so much that it’s nice when we can do things together as a family. Last Fall, at CSCAZ’s ‘Cafecito Creativo’ we made holiday cards using linoleum blocks that we carved into stamps. It was so much fun! I also remember at Day of Hope we painted clay pots and potted them (I still have my pot!) and this year at Day of Hope we played lawn games, took funny pictures in the photo booth using wigs and hats and I got to participate in one of my favorite activities—painting clay hearts (I love anything artistic!). #gogirl

But, by far, my favorite event is the annual Prom for Teens Impacted by Cancer. I get so excited for prom! It’s so much fun to dress-up and get ‘glam’—to feel pretty. I like seeing the other teens feel the same way—special! Plus, when we arrive on campus, it’s like being transported to another world. The decorations are amazing, the food is delicious (my favorite!) and the music is awesome! Every year my friends outside of CSCAZ see my prom pics on SnapChat and Instagram and they want to be my date next year. I tell them “Get in line!”.  #soblessed

Besides the programs and events, what I enjoy most at CSCAZ is meeting other teens impacted by cancer and bonding over our similarities. Every year I have tests to make sure I’m still in remission and it’s scary because there’s always a possibility the cancer will return. Knowing that my fellow teen participants are going thru the same thing makes me strong for them and because of them.

AND I know that no matter what happens, you and Cancer Support Community Arizona will support me and my family! #thankyou

Thank YOU for supporting CSCAZ to teach me the importance of self-expression.

Thank YOU for creating a strong support system for me and my family.

Thank YOU for helping me gain confidence to have goals like going to college to study interior design.

Thank YOU for the privilege of participation and support of the CSCAZ family.

Xoxoxo, Shelly