In 2017, my parents rushed me to Valley Children’s Hospital. I was terrified. I had never been a patient at a hospital before. I knew that something was seriously wrong if my doctor insisted my parents drive an hour from Merced so that I could receive care at Valley Children’s.
Just three days earlier, I had begun experiencing intense pain in my sinuses. Both my parents and I thought it was an awful sinus infection; however, as each day passed, the pain increased. It felt like my cheek was throbbing. I was losing my appetite, and I was struggling to fall asleep.
It’s scary knowing something is wrong, but not knowing what or why. I was vulnerable, exhausted and scared, but when we arrived at Valley Children’s, the nurses immediately eased my fears. For the first time in three days, I was able to rest because I knew I was in safe hands.
Valley Children’s radiologists diagnosed me with a benign tumor known as a Juvenile Nasopharyngeal Angiofibroma. Yes, it’s a mouthful…or rather a noseful. Due to the tumor’s aggressive nature, it grew into my left sinus, left nostril, left eye, throat and was less than a half inch from growing into my brain. Collectively, it was roughly the size of a tennis ball. Only adolescent males are susceptible to this tumor and only .05% of this demographic contract it globally each year. I thought I had won the unlucky lottery.
Thankfully, my story had a happy ending. Following my two procedures and recovery, I quickly realized that my "lottery" was anything but unlucky. This experience inspired me to pursue a career in public relations. Using my love for public speaking and art, I wanted to share the healing power of creativity and channel these passions into a career in healthcare, specifically a children’s hospital.
Lucca joins other volunteers at the "Let's Chalk About Mental Health" chalk art event at Valley Children's Hospital in May 2022
Four months ago, I was fortunate to join Valley Children’s Healthcare as one of its first marketing and communication interns. One of my initiatives was to lead a chalk event on the hospital’s campus as a kick-off celebration for Mental Health Awareness Month. The event saw patients, staff and volunteers join me in creating artful messages of encouragement for the hospital community to enjoy. As I sat on the cement, scribbling in bubble letters with various pastel pigments, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with joy!
From patient to intern, my story had come full circle. As I illustrated my chalk messages, I was filled with gratitude. I was achieving what I had set out to do the day I woke up with a second chance at life: promote the healing power of creativity.
About the Author
Lucca joined Valley Children’s in January 2022 as an intern with the Marketing and Communication team. Lucca’s experience as a patient inspired him to pursue studies in public relations, where he hopes to use the healing power of creativity to help others.