Through My Eyes: 15 Years Old and Fighting Cancer
“Through My Eyes” is a series in which those affected by childhood cancer share a behind-the-scenes look into the ripple effect cancer has in their lives. Our goal is to raise $50,000 for rare pediatric cancer research in the month of September. Become aware, give monthly or donate. [Presented by Atrium Health Levine Children’s]
- Perspective: Teen fighting cancer
- Name: Rosse Rios, 15 years old
- Cancer: Malignant mixed germ cell tumor
- Diagnosed: June 2020
- Treated at: Atrium Health Levine Children’s
The way chemo made me look:
“Once I started chemo I felt like I would never be the same. As it took my hair, I felt it stripped my identity with it. One of the biggest challenges for me is that I don’t feel like myself and that the old me is permanently gone.
Every once in a while I go through memories and pictures before the cancer and it makes me a bit sad to think about how different things are and how much it changed me. As I look at myself in the mirror sometimes I get upset, I don’t feel comfortable with myself and to be honest it’s mostly the way the chemo made me look that upsets me. The hair loss and the skin discoloration.
But I have learned that it’s okay to feel sad about it. It’s a big loss, but this has definitely made me into something stronger.”
In June 2020 Rosse was diagnosed with a malignant mixed germ cell tumor at 15 years old. After the feeling of being full from a family dinner and severe pain in her stomach, the tumor was found on her left ovary as well as small spots on her liver. Rosse has big dreams and is confident she will become a pediatrician when she grows up.
Germ cell tumors can occur anywhere in the body, they arise from cells that would become ovaries or testicles.
I just want to be treated the same:
“In the beginning of my cancer journey I was scared that I would be treated differently, I just wanted to be treated the same. My little sister was scared to play with me, afraid she would hurt me. I didn’t want the cancer to separate my family or for my boyfriend to be scared and leave, but instead it has made my family closer than we ever were. Also my relationships are stronger.
When I started losing my hair from the chemo, my dad, boyfriend, and best friends all shaved their heads. I had long black hair, they knew how much I loved it. I truly felt so supported. I knew this cancer journey would be hard and emotional, but at that point, I knew I would always have my family and friends there for me. I’m forever grateful for them.
I have been more private in my journey, I haven’t told all my friends at school that I have cancer. I don’t want them to feel bad for me, but instead I will be more open about it after I beat it (because I am very confident in myself that I will!). I want all my teachers and the rest of my friends to be proud of me for how I beat it. It’d make me very happy to see them proud of me instead of sad for me.
Right now my biggest fear is what if something happens that prevents me from beating cancer? I can’t really help but to think of that happening.”
My biggest dream:
“This year when I turned 15 I was very excited because this was the year for my Quinceañera! But because of covid, and my cancer I didn’t get to have it. But I turn 16 on May 1st and hoping next year I will get my big sweet 16 party:)
Opening a Hospital in Mexico and helping kids get the best care possible is my biggest dream. I have always wanted to be a pediatrician and hopefully will become a very very good one! Why Mexico? Because healthcare isn’t the best there, and I think that those kids should have a shot at something better!
Cancer is not something I ever believed I would have. I have always taken care of myself and my mom did everything she could to take care of me too. My mom is the absolute best and my biggest inspiration. She in my eyes is the strongest, smartest, and most beautiful woman. My mom is like my best friend, and it’s always her who’s given me the reassurance that I may look different, but I’m always the same “sweet daughter” of hers. She always tries to find the good in the bad.”
Rosse is currently in the 10th grade, just completed her chemo treatments last week and is preparing for surgery to remove her left ovary mid October. Rosse loves to sing and dance, loves Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson. The most important thing to her is her little sister and wants nothing more than to play with her, run with her outside and with their dog.
*Photos courtesy of Rosse.
*** THROUGH MY EYES: THIS IS CHILDHOOD CANCER SERIES