The below interview with patient Fernando Morales was featured in the 2014 Spring/Summer issue of Dana-Farber’s Paths of Progress, now available as a free app for iPad.
My cancer diagnosis came right smack in the middle of high school. I was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in March 2011, my sophomore year. I had to give up sports and stop going to school while I did 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 31 rounds of radiation.
I promised myself I would fight through it. And I didn’t let myself get down when I lost my ability to play soccer. I relapsed in October 2012 and I’ve been doing treatment ever since. The dosages are lower, so I was able to attend school and stay involved.
When I came back to school, everyone lit up when they saw me. It was a good feeling, and I was glad I could go to school even if it was only for a few hours a day.
I couldn’t play, but I was named captain of my soccer team. The team came together to rally around me, and always let me feel included even when I couldn’t play.
“Winning is the only option,” is a phrase my soccer coach would always say. I think about cancer in the same way.
Growing up, I would always draw on tests and quizzes. Art has always been my best subject and I started getting into it a bit more when I couldn’t play soccer. I love photography, especially landscapes, and drawing portraits.
Painting is very therapeutic for me. It helps me calm down and get in the zone.
I’m proud of myself for finishing high school on time. I received a standing ovation at graduation and a special golden diploma, which is awarded to someone who goes through a hardship while in high school.
Cancer makes you appreciate all the little things in life. Whether it’s kids coming by to say hi, or people baking me cookies, these little things make me really happy.
I think cancer has brought out the best in me. I’d like to believe I was always this way, but I try to take advantage of everything and focus on what’s good.
I can’t imagine a better family to go through this with. My parents have sacrificed so much for me and I couldn’t thank anyone more than them.