A life changed
Like most teen-agers, 17-year-old Abraham Martinez thought he was invincible – until the day he was diagnosed with cancer.
“I remember the day I learned that I had cancer like it was yesterday,” said Abraham. “It was the only day during the past two years that I cried.”
This isn’t to say that the last two years have been smooth sailing for Abraham. He’s had to endure multiple hospital stays, rounds of chemotherapy and not to mention the loss of his freedom.
“I couldn’t do the things I used to do – like go to the movies or hang out at the mall,” said Abraham. “My immune system wasn’t up-to-par, so I was at increased risk of infection. Any type of cold or virus could mean a trip to the hospital.”
In addition to losing some of his freedom, Abraham slowly noticed that those people he called “friends” were slowly disappearing. He didn’t know if it was because they thought they could ‘catch’ his cancer or that they didn’t want to bear the emotional burden of having a sick friend.
Abraham quickly learned that his most treasured friendships would develop from people he met at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. He’s made multiple friends not only through the programs offered at Texas Children’s, but also through outside support groups in the Houston community designed for kids with cancer. In fact, he met his girlfriend through one of those support groups.
“My life really changed as a result of my cancer diagnosis,” said Abraham. “I have crossed paths with some of the most courageous and inspiring people I’ve ever known. For that, I am thankful.”
Abraham has been actively involved in “Teens Conquering Houston” – a group established this past June by Texas Children’s Cancer Center to help teens cope with a diagnosis of cancer or blood disorder.
“The teen group is a great forum to express thoughts and anxieties with others who can relate to what you’re going through,” said Abraham.
Abraham’s experience has inspired him to help other kids with cancer.
“I want to take what I learned from my experience and use it for good,” said Abraham. “One thing I learned through my diagnosis was that you can’t have too many shoulders to lean on.”
Abraham has been cancer free since March of 2004 and is looking forward to becoming officially enrolled in Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s Long-Term Survivor program. Patients in the Long-Term Survivor program have been off of treatment for five years and are followed into adulthood.
“It’s funny how life can change,” said Abraham. “One second, you’re flying high, thinking that the world is at your fingertips and the next minute, you’re faced with a life-threatening situation. You can never take anything for granted.”