Senior Starts Conversation about Childhood Cancer

Senior Ximena Pastor is starting a new club to increase her efforts to raise awareness for childhood cancer.

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Senior Starts Conversation about Childhood Cancer

Ximena Pastor presents to students at Maus Middle School about cancer and related careers.

Ximena Pastor presents to students at Maus Middle School about cancer and related careers.

Alexander Jaime

Ximena Pastor presents to students at Maus Middle School about cancer and related careers.

Alexander Jaime

Alexander Jaime

Ximena Pastor presents to students at Maus Middle School about cancer and related careers.

Sydnee Brown, Reporter

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Kate Pepper from Mckinney High School. Second diagnosis, Brain Cancer. 17-years old. Ashton Flasco from Lamar High School. Stage 4 Breast Cancer. 17-years old. Rylie York from Round Rock High School. Stage 4 Lymphoma. 17-years-old. These are three of about 15,780 children diagnosed with cancer each year.  

And senior Ximena Pastor was one of them.

Diagnosed at 3 or 4 months old with Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a genetic disorder that causes benign tumors, known as neuroplexiform or neurofibromas, she’s lived her whole life with the fact they could turn cancerous. Because of this, she had to visit many different specialist doctors and get MRIs often at a young age.

“The hardest part would have to be the fact I used to get bullied before because of the neuroplexiform, which made me super self-conscious,” Pastor said.  

These tumors grow on and under the skin creating the appearance of light brown spots on the body and can cause nerve damage if they grow on the brain or spinal cord.

“Now the hardest part is being paranoid every time I notice a change in my body because I’m always scared that maybe my tumors became cancerous,” Pastor said.

However, Pastor’s past experiences with bullying and present concerns with her tumors do not outweigh her passion to spread awareness for childhood cancer.

“I worry about my disorder just because it has so many health risks attached to it,” she said. “But this inspired me to study Pediatric Oncology which has really made me realize how privileged I am and how grateful I should be,”Pastor said.

Pastor was humbled by this experience and aims to induce positivity and inspiration for others that may be dealing with similar circumstances with a new club and giving presentations about childhood cancer.

She is working to start a club founded on community and hospital service. With the help of Kari Lark, the Health Occupations of America Club Sponsor and Health Sciences teacher, Pastor’s new club’s paperwork is being finalized, so club dates for meetings will be on the announcements soon enough.

Pastor also traveled to Maus Middle School in September to educate middle schoolers about the topic. All of her efforts are small steps in starting the conversation about childhood cancer.

“I think people don’t discuss childhood cancer for many reasons,” Pastor said. “One of them being they haven’t been educated about it and aren’t aware of everything. Also it is a sad topic but definitely something we need to start talking about as society.”

Childhood cancer is just one type of cancer that plagues the world today. Assistant principal clerk Selena Brandon was diagnosed with pancreatic and kidney cancer in February 2017.

I was sufficiently prepared for all the ‘normal’ effects and side effects of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and endless tests, scans, procedures and prescriptions. However, being ‘still’ was my greatest challenge,” Brandon said. She said she feels children have a natural ability to embrace this stillness though.

Children have the wonderful gift of purity and innocence and complete trust,” Brandon said. “I believe this allows them the ability to cope with situations that might devastate others who have lived many more years than they have.”

Pastor is hoping that a regular activity with the new club will involve bringing presents for the kids who are hospitalized and in need of a motivational boost. “I really want to raise awareness and help our community.”

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