Be Strong. Be Positive. Be Better.
Summer began her cancer journey in January, 2011 on her 16th birthday. Her cancer presented as an innocuous lump on her left hand between her thumb and index finger. After initially suspecting a muscle tear or hematoma sustained during sports, Summer’s intuition led her to seek a biopsy. The diagnosis: alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma – a rare, unrelenting pediatric cancer. Subsequent scans and bone marrow aspirates confirmed metastatic disease in her hip and several vertebrae. Summer entered a vaccine trial at NIH before starting therapy, and began a 52 week aggressive chemotherapy regimen and radiation therapy.
Despite her diagnosis, Summer continued high school, and remained active in soccer and gymnastics. She was elected president of her senior class, and earned the Girl Scouts Gold Award for her work in recruiting platelet donors and increasing her community’s donor pool.. Summer was cancer free after an exhaustive year-long regimen, during which she graduated high school and was accepted to Dartmouth College. Discouragingly, in her first week at Dartmouth, she discovered an isolated recurrence in her breast. Summer underwent a mastectomy and additional chemotherapy and, true to ‘Summer’s Way’, completed her freshman year. Despite a grueling treatment protocol, Summer competed on Dartmouth’s women’s club soccer team, and pursued her veterinarian calling by interning on a ranch.
When Summer returned for sophomore year, she experienced a recurrence. Despite additional surgery and radiation, her cancer spread - first to her spine, and ultimately to her abdomen and lungs. Summer died July 20, 2015, four and a half years after her diagnosis.
Summer’s journey is like too many stories of children with enormous promise taken before their time. And yet, she never let cancer define or defeat her. With her own future in question, she focused on making an enduring impact on those she loved, and on the communities she touched.
Be Strong. Be Positive. Be Better. Consider donating to Summer’s Way Foundation today.