Students of the Year San Juan
Marijose Rodriguez | Team Spark Campaign Team
There was a time, not too long ago, when getting a bad grade on a test felt like devastating news. And then . . . I found out my best friend had cancer.
It happened this past August. Diana Carolina González Baerga was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, at the young age of 16. I would not get to see Dianita for quite some time and, while I wanted time to pass as quickly as possible so that things could get back to normal, I had to take a step back as she bravely underwent her treatment. In the beginning, I felt helpless. It seemed there was nothing to do but wait . . . and hope. And then her chemotherapy sessions began, followed by countless blood transfusions and what seemed like never-ending hospital visits. All throughout, I was in awe of Diana’s patience, confidence and optimism. She was a shining light of hope. I realized that simply dwelling on how difficult it was not seeing her every day at school, was kind of pointless. I needed to do something. Out of this urge “Team Spark” was born—a group of teenage friends seeking to raise awareness of blood cancers, while also sharing Diana’s strength and determination in order to help inspire others who may feel alone as they faced their own diagnosis.
Our first effort was the “Light the Night Walk”, part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (“LLS”) fund-raising efforts meant to bring light to the darkness of cancer through research and cures. Our effort paid off. We were so proud when we saw the results. But, more importantly, as we raised our lanterns in Diana’s name, we also realized we had the power to influence and effect a positive change in the world.
Diana’s cancer is now officially in remission! While I am so thankful for this good news, I also realize that she is only one of many who have faced and, unfortunately, will continue to face the darkness of cancer. I feel something positive must come out of this experience. What we have lived and learned must be put to use. Team Spark can continue to make a difference by supporting cancer patients and their families and contributing to the development of new treatments for blood cancers. Our next mission: the LLS’ Student of the Year competition. We will continue to help light the way.
Maria Jose Rodriguez Rexach
Academia Maria Reina
Class of 2020
For more information about LLS, please visit www.lls.org.