When Jameisha Brown was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma, a type of b-cell lymphoma, her 8-year-old mind reasoned that it couldn't be too serious. After all, B was close to A, the best grade you could get.
Today, Jameisha, who goes by Meisha, knows a bit more about cancer. Motivated by her own childhood cancer journey, she's currently working to earn a master's degree in health studies in hopes of becoming a cancer researcher.
Making time for school during Burkitt's lymphoma treatment
In June 1998, Meisha had just completed second grade and was looking forward to summer vacation when she began experiencing severe abdominal pain, nausea and fatigue. After a trip to her pediatrician and an emergency CT scan, she was diagnosed with cancer. She was immediately referred to MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital, where she underwent three days of tests, followed by emergency surgery to remove tumors on her small intestine, colon, ovaries and appendix.
"My initial treatment lasted just over eight months. This included multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy, some that were particularly hard on me," Meisha recalls.
While undergoing treatment, Meisha took advantage of our Pediatric Education Program, which provides academic instruction and tutoring so our childhood cancer patients can keep up with their classmates back home.
"There were times I didn't feel like I wanted to get out of bed, but the teachers at MD Anderson persuaded me to go to the classroom so I wouldn't fall behind," Meisha says. "It made me understand the importance of education and made me feel like they really cared about me."
Meisha also participated in the Children's Art Project, creating a butterfly that went on to be used on many products, including a glass ornament.
"For me, art was a way to channel my emotions and to express myself to others," Meisha says.
School's never out
Since February 1999, Meisha has had no evidence of disease. She has gone on to finish college and is currently studying for a master's degree in health studies.
"The doctors at MD Anderson gave me a second chance at life," Meisha says. "Now, my ultimate goal is to give back by finding ways to educate and prevent cancer in vulnerable populations through behavioral science research. I hope to one day work alongside the very doctors who helped me."