The Nicki Leach Foundation
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Courtney's Story

“Are you ready to start getting better?”

Those were the first words that I remember hearing, after my neurosurgeon told me that I had cancer. I was seven years old, and had been doing tests all day. My mom and my aunt had been in another waiting room and I had been sitting by myself for maybe five minutes, when a woman I had met earlier, Dr. Woodward came in and told me the news. Being young she told me in a very simple terms that I was really sick with a thing called cancer, and that I had a big ball (Tumor) in my brain, but not to worry, because she was going to take care of me and everything was going to be okay. She then asked me if I was ready to get better, and I said “yes”.

At that time I had no clue whatsoever what was ahead of me, or how big of an impact that it would have upon my life. I had a total of three surgeries, and two of them performed by Dr. Woodward. My second surgery was preformed by another Neurosurgeon, who was uncaring and unhopeful, and because of his attitude, I realized that I wanted to be a person in the medical field who was helpful and optimistic to my patients. It was during my second surgery when I was ten years old that I decided I wanted to be a pediatric Oncologist.

I was in second and third grade during the time of my operations and treatment, my school life was greatly affected. I was always behind in elementary school, however my school refused to put me into special education classes, saying I was not qualified for them, so I did the best I could in my regular classes even though at best I was only able to attend them for a few short hours, a couple of days a week. Finally when I started middle school in sixth grade I was allowed to be put into some special education classes, mainly for math and science, since those were the main classes that I struggled in. While in the classes, I had amazing teachers that had helped catch me up with the other students by the time that I graduated. By my freshman year of high school I was officially transferred out of all of my special education classes, and was put into all general education classes. I kept taking these classes though, and succeeding far more than anyone expected me to. This being my senior year I am in all AP, honors, and two general education classes! I feel so proud and happy to have come so far through all of my struggles with school, I am very lucky.

After I graduate I plan on going to California State University Monterey Bay where I am majoring in Biology and will graduate with a B.S. degree in four years. After that I plan to get my Masters and Medical Degree at the University California in San Francisco. Once I have my medical degree I plan on working in a children's hospital, such as St. Jude's or Children's Hospital in the Central Valley.

It is because of my cancer, and my doctors that have made me want to go into the medical field. It is also because of my failures, and my triumphs that have made me believe that I can do it and it is what I am supposed to do. I know now that I can do whatever I set my mind to even when everyone is telling me that I cannot. I know that one day I will be a pediatric Oncologist, and I cant wait for that day, so that I will be able to help children, just like my doctors so greatly helped me.