What's Up Wednesday -- Cole

#WhatsUpWednesday is our chance to hear from the teens who are involved with the Speak Now for Kids community. This week’s post will focus on Cole, a former patient at Johns Hopkins All Childrens Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. Just two weeks shy of his 16th birthday, Cole has been a super advocate for children battling cancer by meeting with members of Congress to share his story and even helping to raise money for a teen lounge at the hospital. As you can see, Cole is a very busy teenager, so while we have him:

Cole…what’s up?

Why do I advocate? I advocate because the average age of a kid diagnosed with cancer is 6, so they need someone to speak for them.  I hope that my efforts will create more awareness and fund research for less harsh treatment plans and more cures.

rsz_cole_all_childrens.jpgPerson I find most inspirational Tim Tebow

What makes me unique I have a lot of courage

What jam gets me up when I’m down “Light it up” by Major Lazer - I like the beat.

What have I overcome?  At 12 years old I was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, brain cancer. At 13, I found out that the reason why I had brain cancer was because of a gene mutation. Research shows that this gene mutation in 1% of the people causes brain cancer and 100% colon cancer. For that reason I had surgery to remove my colon at 15 years old. I am now a brain cancer survivor and colon cancer, pre-vivor. I’ve overcome surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. I was a club soccer player and then had to learn how to walk again. Eventually, I made it back on the team.  Now because of my recent surgery I am sitting out this year and am a manager/coach of the team.  I will work hard to regain my spot on the team.

What do I want the world to know about my condition? I want the world to know that perfectly healthy kids get cancer and that “Everyone can do something to make a difference for kids fighting cancer.” One in five children still do not survive and I don’t think this is acceptable.

If I could change the world, I would…. Find a way for our DNA to adjust and heal itself when needed. This would help far beyond cancer and could help all physical issues.

Who, or what, is my biggest supporter? I’m an only child so my mom and dad are my big supporters.

What does my children’s hospital mean to me? Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital was where I was treated and I feel really comfortable there. The nurses, doctors and staff all want it to be the very best place for kids to heal and it shows. I am on a teen advisory council which allows for teens to bring up and implement ideas that we think will improve the hospital from a teen perspective. They have listened to my ideas and it feels great to have this kind of impact at my age. My first project was to create a teen space on the oncology floor. There was already a room and it was redecorated and rededicated to be a “Teen Lounge” from funds that I raised with a foot-golf event.

How do I plan to give back to the world? I’m fortunate because early on I was able to creating awareness through athletic activism events, support teens through my teen lounge at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and I’ve helped raise over $750,000 for pediatric cancer research and family support programs. I like connecting with the kids and helping them realize what they can do with their situation. How they can create good from it.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I look forward to having a family and enjoying time with them. I aim to be happy and further develop my faith and continue helping others. My #GoldTogether campaign will be nationwide and will continue to inspire.

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