At 14, I was diagnosed with cancer. At any age, this can be a scary, and seemingly insurmountable. Luckily, I was living in Canada at the time and was surrounded by accessible, person-centered healthcare. As a young person battling a potentially terminal illness, having healthcare that is age-appropriate and meets your needs as a human first, not only a disease, is critical in your survival.
The physicians gave me a key decision-making role across my care pathway, allowing me to select my preferred treatment options and allowing friends and family members to be with me throughout lengthy MRI scan and radiation therapy days. This level of agency, autonomy, and community support made me feel like I had a role in overcoming the disease; that survival was something I was working towards alongside my healthcare team.
Two years later, I went into remission. This level of accessible, person-centered pediatric care should be available to all young people, everywhere, not just for those in high-income countries. It is this experience that informs my advocacy in the global non-communicable disease landscape, because I believe that policies and laws strengthening health systems should put children first.