PITTSBURGH — In 2002, Ashley Taylor was supposed to be getting ready for summer vacation and sixth grade.
Instead, her world was rocked when doctors found a fast-moving leukemia.
“It was very intensive,” Taylor said. “I actually stayed in the hospital for 40 days straight.”
When fall came, treatment was going well, but her new classmates had questions.
“I had maybe 40 kids who understood what had been going on and maybe 250 that had no idea why I looked the way I did,” she said.
Taylor is now cancer-free, engaged and just started a new job, but she said the memories of her battle are still a part of her. That’s why she’s now a part of Children’s Hospital’s Survivor Connect.
Through social media, dinners and an annual Kennywood picnic, the Survivor Connect program helps young cancer survivors heal emotionally.
“By providing a community around them, we help them,” said Noelle Conover, the project coordinator. “They really do connect. It’s wonderful to look out on that audience and see all those kids that are growing up.”
It’s something Taylor said has given her new friends who understand her battle and erases that loneliness that comes with childhood cancer.
“I still have never met anybody at my job or in college, anybody else that has been a young adult and had cancer,” Taylor said.
Survivor Connect is funded by a grant from the Mario Lemieux Foundation.
If you'd like more information on the program or to donate, CLICK HERE.
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