Cancer survivor one of six chosen to support cancer research

Alexandra Rodriguez/ Contributing writer

Pre-med senior and eight year cancer survivor Cynthia Lau went to Washington D.C. to advocate for cancer research funding.

Lau, a senior majoring in psychology, had unique expectations about what her middle school years were going to be like. After receiving a blood transfusion for low hemoglobin and undergoing a week of tests, Lau’s doctor called her in for the results. She said she knew it was bad when she looked at her family members’ faces.  

“When you say gastrointestinal stromal tumor to a 13-year-old, it just sounded like a really, really long sentence. I really didn’t know what it meant,” said Lau.

She underwent chemotherapy and surgery, yet a year after her diagnosis, the tumor had spread to her right lung and liver. Lau spent most of middle school battling the tumor, she said and was homeschooled during seventh grade. Her eighth grade year, she said, was spent between school and the hospital.

She was researching different organizations when she came across American Cancer Society, and has been volunteering with them for one year. Lau is currently interning with the organization.She went to Washington D.C. as part of the ACS CAN for their leadership summit and lobbying day on Wednesday, Sept. 13 and is one of six ambassadors chosen for the Gen2End program.

Ray Carson, the associate director for media advocacy for ACS CAN, said that Lau has been volunteering with the organization for a few years now. Lau, Carson said, is very passionate about the ACS mission and public policy.

“She’s somebody that obviously understands the need for the federal and state government to really get behind cancer fighting policy,” Carson said. “Cynthia is passionate about the ACS mission.”

The Gen2End program began a few years ago in California, according to Carson and became a national movement to get millennials involved and engaged to support ACS CAN. He said there is a national vetting process for who gets chosen. Applicants are chosen based on background and amount of volunteer work they did for the American Cancer Society, as well as the recommendations from the state government relations team.

Lau said that her mentor at her ACS CAN internship informed her about Gen2End and recommended she apply for the program. Lau said she was ecstatic when she was chosen.

“For me, this is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life because I’m truly working for it. I worked so hard for this from such a young age,” she said.

Lau said that when she arrives in Washington, she hopes to learn more about policy and to meet with legislators who are willing to work for cancer research funding and healthcare.

“I want to leave there knowing that there is hope and that medical research funding is going to increase,” Lau said.

Lau said her work with cancer will not end until it ceases to exist and she will continue fighting until she can’t fight anymore.

“When you’re faced with a difficult prognosis, a chance of survival goes a long way,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Lau

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