Gabriel and Loriana Aldama

The impact of cancer on families

Cancer impacts entire families; children like me can suffer long-term effects, such as anxiety, worry, and the fear of the unknown.

There is a lot to learn in order to understand cancer. There is SO much to study… Not just WHY cancer happens OR how its cells divide and what it does to the body….. but also WHO it impacts is important.

Cancer impacts not just patients, but entire families; not seeing a family member is something that occurs more often than you think. Children are often impacted when a family member is diagnosed and can suffer long-term, such as anxiety, worry, and the fear of the unknown. It can also cause financial hardships for families which can cause stress and strain on other caregivers.

This leads to my personal story

Loriana and ElmoWhen my mom was diagnosed with leukemia I couldn’t see her for a year. That was hard, as a child I felt so many emotions like sadness and worry. At the time I did not know that when my mom and dad dropped me off I would not see them for quite a bit, it was just me and my grandma, and every day my mom and I would Facetime, and we would use these puppets, Elmo and the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street and we still have them to this day, but it’s a bittersweet memory.

Then she was cured, after I hadn’t seen her for 2 years she reached out her hands and I ran right past her not knowing who she was, she picked me up then I realized that it was my mom. This shows the impact on family members who experience loved ones who have cancer.

With that being said, I wish I had a superhero power to point at someone and they would be cured, until then that is you, doctors, and scientists. I hope with your work — fighting cancer can be less painful and sad and you can SAVE more people.

Last but not least, when I was in first grade, it was superhero day and I needed a costume, but when I came home I told my mom I couldn’t fit into her clothes because, after everything she has been through, she was my HERO.

The above was a speech given to Rice University medical students on February 20, 2023.

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