From Cancer Survivor to Cancer Researcher
By Cade Johnson, Lamar '15
When I was eleven, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX. I battled for several years before my chemotherapy regimen ended, and I still go back once a year for checkups.
After I finished chemotherapy, I didn’t want to see the inside of a hospital again unless I absolutely had to. I hated cancer for the things it had taken from me, but it was still too early to see everything that it would come to offer. Over the next several years and into high school, I made sure my career path was steering clear of the medical field. However, around my junior year of high school I had a change of heart. Due to the influence of my teachers, family, and friends, I realized that I had a deep passion for helping others. These people also led me to realize how great of an impact I could have on the lives of children who suffer in ways that I suffered if I became a pediatric oncologist.
The moment I knew I was meant to be of service to others in my life came in my senior year of high school. A young girl in our high school was killed in a tragic car accident alongside her older sister, who was pregnant at the time. Their mother, also in the car at the time of the accident, was in ICU for some time following the wreck.
Following this event, two community leaders, a classmate, and myself all organized a charity event for the family in which the entire community came together to raise money for the family. Seeing the impact I was able to have on that family had a profound effect on me. It made me realize how much I enjoy helping others, and how fulfilling it was for me to have a hand in impacting people in such a positive way.
Being able to impact people and help others is everything to me. For me, seeing the life, happiness, or success of others as the fruits of your labor is the most rewarding experience anyone can have in life. Throughout my college career so far, Alpha Tau Omega has provided me with the opportunity to do this over and over again. I credit ATO for much of my success in college, including my recent opportunity to do cancer research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Without ATO, I feel certain that I wouldn’t have made the connections that led me to that opportunity.
I’m looking forward to the future, and plan to participate in cancer research in Houston next summer at Texas Children’s Hospital. Again, I cannot take credit for my success. My faith, family, friends, mentors, and brothers drive me daily to be better than I was the day before and consistently keep me on the right path.