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Tag Archives: Clarissa Schilstra

Challenging Changes: Transitioning from Pediatric to Adult Care

clarissashilstraby Clarissa Schilstra, CKN Editor


When I was in college, I participated for one semester in a group called ATLAS: Adolescents Transitioning to Leadership and Success.  My best friend and college roommate, who has juvenile diabetes, was the one who brought me to a meeting and got me involved.  ATLAS was a support group run by college students with chronic illness (anything from diabetes, to Crohn’s disease, to cancer), for younger teenagers with chronic illness.


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What September Means to me: by Clarissa Schilstra

goldribbonby Clarissa Schilstra, CKN Section Editor


“Turning Awareness into Action”


Awareness…..what does it really mean? September is here and with it starts Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  As a two-time childhood cancer survivor, I am always grateful for this month that reminds me of what I have been through and how far I have been able to come.  Social media goes gold and Facebook fills with the stories of children battling and surviving cancer.  This awareness effort is so important to help the world understand the impact of cancer on a child’s life.


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Living your Best Life in Spite of the Shadow of Cancer

ClarissaShilstraby Clarissa Schilstra, Living with Cancer, CKN Advisory Board Member


When I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 2 ½ years old, I never imagined it would ever come back.  For leukemia survivors, your risk of relapse decreases significantly as years go by, all the way down to a less than 5% chance of relapse by ten years after your initial diagnosis.  When that seemingly impossible occurrence became a reality for me, I was just about to turn 13.  I could not believe it.  Now that I have been through a cancer relapse, I feel that there is no number of years that will guarantee me safe from cancer.


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The Benefits of Social Media for Teens and Young Adults with Cancer

clarissashilstraby Clarissa Schilstra, Living with Cancer, CKN Advisory Board Member


Social media is an invaluable resource for any teenage or young adult cancer patient or survivor.  While many of us are attached to our screens these days, it’s not always clear how we can best use those apps and sites we so often look at in a way that is beneficial to us as patients/survivors.  As I have found through my own experiences, social media can be used to help overcome isolation, find support, find resources, learn about your illness, share your experiences, make a difference in the lives of others going through similar experiences, and raise awareness about the impact cancer has on a young person’s life.


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Things to Consider When Starting the Cancer Treatment Journey

 Clarissaby Clarissa Schilstra Living with Cancer

I was diagnosed with leukemia the first time when I was two and a half years old, successfully completed that treatment, and lived a healthy life for eight years before facing the same cancer again.  It has been almost nine years since that relapse diagnosis and thankfully it has been almost seven years since I completed my relapse treatment.  But, no matter how long it has been since that fateful day of diagnosis, I remember it very clearly.  I remember that moment so clearly because it was a moment that redefined my life.


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Surviving Survivorship

Clarissaby Clarissa Schilstra, Living with Cancer


A College Student and 2X Leukemia Survivor’s Perspective


I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) for the first time at 2 ½ years old, and went through 2 ½ years of treatment.  I then relapsed when I was 13, at which point I went through another 2 ½ years of more intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment.


When I finished my relapse treatment, at the age of 15, I felt liberated.  I had finally conquered the disease that had taken over such a significant portion of my childhood.  Little did I know, navigating survivorship would present a whole new kind of challenge.


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