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Joshua Sassaman

  • Hodgkin Lymphoma

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Joshua is honest, loyal and responsible. He has many amazing hobbies including (but certainly not limited to) gardening, playing street hockey, working with fish, and exploring his creativity through video games like Minecraft. He also loves to spend time with his fiancé and is planning to go to medical school for oncology work.

His connection to oncology is very personal, as Joshua is a cancer survivor himself. When he was 17 years old, he started having random fevers, drenching night sweats, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss. He took to the internet to try and figure out what was wrong and found cancer as a top result for his symptoms. “Growing up, I’d watched my grandfather and several family friends die of cancer; it was my worst nightmare,” he said.

At first, doctors thought Joshua had inflammatory bowel disease, but test results said otherwise. He had a sinking feeling. He was referred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) emergency department for treatment. Many blood tests, X-rays, and hours later, an oncologist told Joshua they found a mass in his chest. They moved him to the busy and nerve-racking oncology unit, where he realized he was ready to fight for his life at any cost. More tests led to a diagnosis of stage II Hodgkin lymphoma.

Joshua was extremely resilient through his battle and underwent four rounds of chemotherapy, fourteen rounds of proton therapy, and several hospital visits for tachycardia. Finally, after about six months, he reached remission! He has been cancer-free ever since.

His experience sparked an interest in learning about the disease. Joshua never stopped asking what might cause cancer and, ultimately, what might cure it. During treatment, his oncologist let him tour the microbiology lab and observe his own cancer cells.

“I learned how cancer has been a perennial burden on humanity and was awestruck
by how we achieved spaceflight but couldn’t conquer cancer,” Joshua said. “I realized I wanted to become an oncologist myself.” He is now in the process of applying to local medical schools.

He wants those struggling with cancer to know that they should strive not to let it change their core identity and values. Joshua, who values helping others, said Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation signifies that no one is alone in this fight. He knows the Foundation will ensure continuous progress and help find better treatments.

Information provided by Joshua Sassaman

Updated July 2024

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