If you were to look through 22-year-old Jameisha “Meisha” Brown’s resume, you’d find page after page of honors and awards, hours of volunteer work and community service, and an array of certifications in education and research.
What you won’t find, though, is that in 1998, Brown was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma — a rare, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s disease usually found in children.
Three weeks into the summer after second grade, Brown experienced tremendous pain and discomfort. Her mother had her screened by her pediatrician.
Shortly after the initial diagnosis, doctors discovered a liquid tumor in the young girl’s abdomen. A few hours later, Brown was admitted to MD Anderson to begin treatment.
“Cancer turned out to be a demand on my potential,” Brown says. “Sometimes there has to be this demand for you to produce. I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. I had to do something about this thing called cancer.”
During the next year, she underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. What she remembers most, however, is how her condition changed her point of view and directed her passions.
“At the tender age of 8, dying was all I knew about cancer. I turned what I thought was a death sentence into the will to live a fulfilling life,” she says. “If we really dig deep within ourselves, we’ll be astonished with what we can conquer.”
‘My future chose me’
Today, Brown is a senior at the University of Houston working toward a bachelor’s degree in health promotion.
She keeps busy as the president and health fair coordinator of the Collegiate Cancer Council, as a research fellow at The Methodist Hospital and as an active volunteer in the community.
“If not for the cancer, I still feel I would have ended up in a similar place. My future chose me. This is where I’m supposed to be. These are my passions,” she says.
Since February 1999, Brown has shown no evidence of cancer. She continues check-ups with her doctors at MD Anderson and doesn’t let cancer slow her down.
Brown’s passion for Making Cancer History® has led her to participate in numerous programs and organizations.
Since a month into her treatment, Brown has worked with MD Anderson’s Children’s Art Project (CAP), allowing her creativity to grow. She also received a CAP scholarship aiding her tuition costs during her four years at the University of Houston.
“You always have to find ways to encourage yourself,” Brown says. “Even in your darkest moments, there’s still light. I’m a living testimony and a life to be continued.”
After graduation, she plans to carry on volunteering and says her education is only beginning. She has a long-term goal of holding a citywide health fair, offering free screenings to people of all ages.