Maria Seta Kirkland says she has a soft spot for bald heads and chubby cheeks. She is a childhood cancer survivor and once had a bald head and chubby cheeks herself. She always wants to tell people she loves them. She says that’s because she knows how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away.
Maria is a nurse at Cincinnati Children’s, the same hospital where she was treated nearly 30 years ago.
Maria says her care team here has seen her through all of her milestones. And they will be celebrating with her this weekend at the annual Cancer Survivor picnic. The past year has been big for Maria, she will be able to show off pictures from her recent wedding and ultrasound images of the little girl she and her husband are expecting in January.
Maria says without the right treatment, things might not have turned out so well.
When she was 18 months old, Maria was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a type of kidney cancer. Her caregivers at Cincinnati Children’s helped her not only survive but anticipate health problems she might face growing up.
Now, Maria has become a nurse at Cincinnati Children’s where she says she’s come “full circle.” She has cared for children in the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute and now works in the emergency department at our Liberty Campus.
We sat down with Maria and her mom just before her wedding, and this is what they shared with us:
Maria still receives care here, through the 5+ Cancer Survivor Center, which treats 1,800 childhood cancer survivors ranging in age from 5 to 64 years old.
She undergoes a full work-up of tests every year, and experts at Cincinnati Children’s have helped her manage a heart condition and other effects of childhood cancer. Now that she is expecting a child herself, her doctors are keeping an eye on her pregnancy and continue to offer a coordinated, team approach to her care.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a great time to consider supporting pediatric cancer research and to recognize people who are fighting or have survived childhood cancer!