by Rosalie Chan, Web & News Editor
Ever since she has become cancer-free, Amanda Marquez, freshman, has raised money for cancer research because of her inspiration to give back to the community.
“I feel that I need to give back since they (doctors, hospitals, cancer organizations) helped me. It would help future patients get better,” Marquez said.
Recently, Marquez participated in Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society event. She raised and stayed overnight at the Wheeling Relay for Life event on May 19, where she participated in the survivor’s walk.
Marquez was diagnosed in 2006, but now she has been cancer free for four years. Since age 10, she has raised money for a number of cancer organizations.
Fundraising for cancer research
Every year for the last four years, Marquez has donated between $500 and $1000, which she gives to Dr. Stewart Goldman, MD, who contributes this money to cancer research foundations.
Marquez first donated to Camp Sunshine, a cancer camp in Maine. Each year, she picks one or two places to donate to. This year, she donated to Children’s Memorial Hospital, which will build a new hospital, called the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, opening June 9.
Marquez has also donated to Dr. Goldman’s research. Dr. Goldman worked on researching a new way chemotherapy that goes right to the tumor, and he needed to purchase $2500 nude rats, which have no immune systems, for experimenting.
In order to raise money, Marquez sells candy, sells lemonade or receives donations. She also had a garage sale, where the money she made went towards Children’s Memorial Hospital.
“Just in general, she’s a great philanthropist. She kind of looks where there’s a need. She devotes time and effort to meeting that need,” Jennifer Marquez, mother of A. Marquez, said. “Once she puts her mind to something, she’ll get it done.”
In addition to fundraising for Relay for Life and Children’s Memorial Hospital, A. Marquez has recently committed to raising $1200 to match the donations of 10 people from SuperSibs, an organization for siblings of children who have cancer.
A. Marquez will sell lemonade and baked goods from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow to benefit SuperSibs.
“I think that (having cancer) certainly changed her perspective on things. She has always been a kind-hearted, generous person,” Ms. Marquez said. “She’s been through a lot as far as cancer goes.”
Ana Morales, freshman and friend of A. Marquez, first found out about how A. Marquez had cancer when they took the same tech class in sixth grade, where A. Marquez told Morales about how she used to have cancer.
Morales sometimes helps A. Marquez with selling candy to raise money for cancer research.
“She wants to help people who were suffering like she was,” Morales said. “I think that was brave of her because she was suffering from cancer, and now she wants to help other people who want to survive.”
When the cancer began
When A. Marquez was in third grade, she started complaining about her vision. Her parents took her to the doctor, but the doctor did not find anything wrong. Later, she started having more problems with her eyesight, and in addition, she began vomiting in school.
On Sept. 6, 2006, A. Marquez did not feel well, so Ms. Marquez took her to Children’s Memorial Hospital. The doctors told them that she just had a virus.
However, on Nov. 8, 2006 at Glenbrook Hospital, she received a CAT (Computed axial tomography) scan, which uses X-rays to take pictures inside the head and can show tumors. The hospital sent that scan to her pediatrician.
A. Marquez found out she had a tumor in her brain as she was riding in the car with her brother, Chris Marquez, junior, and her father.
“I was with my dad, and the doctor called, and he pulled over and started to break down in tears,” C. Marquez said.
Marquez’s experience of cancer
The family rushed to Children’s Memorial Hospital, where A. Marquez received an MRI. The MRI scan confirmed that she had brain cancer.
Two days later, the tumor was removed. After this, she spent one month at the hospital, but she could not talk for three months starting the week after the surgery because of cerebellar mutism, a symptom complex which includes decreased or loss of speech and decreased coordination.
“After they removed the tumor, I had to point. It was frustrating,” A. Marquez said. “My hands didn’t work, so I couldn’t write. I couldn’t express myself.”
Because she became partly paralyzed on the right side, A. Marquez spent two and a half months at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where she received radiation therapy. She was discharged on Jan. 29, 2007.
“After that, we came home. It was the first time we got home. I stayed in the hospital the whole time. I promised her that she would never be alone,” Ms. Marquez said.
A. Marquez still received treatment, such as radiation and chemotherapy, afterwards for a year and a half.
“It was hard. I didn’t see my parents for three months and didn’t see my sister for a year (because they stayed at the RIC),” C. Marquez said. “I would never want to see that (cancer) happen to anyone.”
Effects of Cancer
A. Marquez went back to school in 5th grade even though she missed all of 4th grade. She still had to go through chemotherapy every four to six weeks for a year and a half. Her last official chemotherapy treatment took place on Feb. 8, 2008.
“We’ve been trying to build back what she lost. When she got out of the hospital, she had to go to day rehab for three hours a day, three times a week,” Ms. Marquez said. “In a lot of ways, she’s lucky to be alive. She had a tumor the size of a golf ball in her brain.”
Even though A. Marquez has been cancer free for four years, cancer still affects her physical health.
“I still occasionally throw up because of this,” Marquez said. “Everything on my right side is stronger than the left. My legs don’t walk that far anymore.”
A. Marquez gets monitored by endocrinologist and goes to the hospital for blood tests. She has scans every year and still goes for treatment every three months. In addition, her body has a harder time recovering when she becomes ill.
School and Future Plans
Since her right side does not work as well, A. Marquez had to switch from writing with her right hand to writing with her left hand.
In addition, A. Marquez said that she has hand disabilities and periodic headaches and back pains. At school, she takes modified P.E. and must take the elevator instead of the stairs. She also finds school harder than she did before.
“She’s come a long way. She did therapy for years. I think at this point, it’s the best she can be,” Ms. Marquez said.
Despite her health problems, A. Marquez feels determined to go to college. She already has one scholarship to cover all her books in school.
In the future, A. Marquez hopes to become a nurse practitioner or doctor and help children with cancer. She participates in the nursing club and also helped with fundraising for that club.
“I feel that cancer is not something like a disease in your life. You can face it or you can’t. Face every day, one step at a time,” A. Marquez said.