Conference put on by Valley Children's hospital aimed at helping young cancer survivors and their families

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At Saturday's conference, survivors and their families got lessons on changes in health insurance, and how to handle social media. (KFSN)

When Dr. John Gates, a Valley Children's Hospital Pediatric Oncologist, talks to cancer patients and survivors about the path they are walking, he knows the road.

Dr. Gates battled leukemia from the age of five, and after a couple relapses and an experimental transplant, he beat it.

"But I also struggled afterwards with trying to find my own path, navigate the health care system."

That is why the Valley Children's Hospital Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program is dear to Dr. Gate's heart.

At Saturday's conference, survivors and their families got lessons on changes in health insurance, and how to handle social media.

Mitchell Silva, with Esperity.com, said, "If you're a person who's very stressed due to your situation at a particular time, maybe it's best to say avoid the social networks for that phase."

Only one in four survivors suffer a serious problem after treatment, like heart problems or a new cancer. But about two-thirds of them experience some kind of delayed effect-- a physical, emotional or social issue.

The Survivorship Program teaches them what to expect.

Cancer survivor Breanna Estrada said, "I definitely have struggled with my memory due to radiation I had on my brain and dealt with knee and joint issues."

Estrada has come a long way since she became the cover girl for the survivorship program three years ago, and even further since the photo she held on the cover. She said just talking to other patients helped guide her to the finish line.

"But it's always that light at the end of the tunnel that you want to look for, and she pretty much was the light at the end of the tunnel for me."

So Estrada shares her story now through the Survivorship Program. She's studying to become a pediatric nurse, and the program helped her on the way, getting scholarships and support.

For Dr. Gates, the road led to Valley Children's Hospital.

"I was able to go to college and medical school and now I'm able to help other children."

Dr. Gates is now helping people to survive and thrive.

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community-eventscancerchildren's healthmadera countyMadera
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