MAHALO FROM OUR RELAY TEAM: JABSOM Team raises $4,000, helps promote event with personal stories

By Nicolas Villanueva (on behalf of the JABSOM team captains)

Students from the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) made sure to be on hand to support the University of Hawai’i Relay for Life on Saturday, April 13th, 2013. Two of our MD students also were interviewed by KITV-4 and Hawai’i Public Radio. They all want you to know the JABSOM team raised $4,000–and they are grateful to each of you! There seems to be no doubt that personal survivor stories inspired many donors, like the following, written by MD Class of 2013’s Nicolas Villanueva.

The event held special meaning for my classmate, Kris Kawamoto and myself. We are both fourth year medical students who will graduate this May and finally receive our MD degrees. Our journeys up to this point have been filled with many challenges, not just in the classroom and through taxing rotations in the hospital, but in our own battles with cancer.

At the age of 4 months, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the liver called a Hepatoblastoma. Fortunately, the cancer was found at an early stage and it was surgically removed a few days later. I enrolled in a clinical trial in which new combinations of chemotherapy medications were tested on me with the hope of gaining a better understanding of how to best treat this type of cancer. Soon after my 1st birthday, I was cancer free and have been in remission ever since.

Growing up as a cancer survivor, I was determined to someday care for and treat patients who would be told that they have cancer. While in medical school, I met Kris Kawamoto. We were in the same study group and soon became close friends. During our first year of medical school, she revealed to me that she was diagnosed with Breast cancer. However, like me, her cancer was found at an early stage and her cancer was treated. Now in remission of her cancer, she also understands the importance of the advancements in cancer research as a result of events like the Relay for Life.

Relay for LIfe march at the University of Hawaii Manoa athletic field.

Relay for LIfe march at the University of Hawaii Manoa athletic field.

We have a lot to be grateful for and were it not for organizations like the American Cancer Society, we might not be here to share our stories with you. Now as fourth year medical students, months away from graduation and starting our careers as MDs in residency training, we can look forward to our futures. I am interested pursuing a career in Hematology/Oncology and Kris, in Cardiology. We hoped that many others would join us and help to make sure more success stories like ours can be heard.

Relay for Life rally at UH Manoa's athletic field.

Relay for Life rally at UH Manoa’s athletic field.

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