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From Patient to Intern: A Full Circle Story

Published on May 06, 2022

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.

Photo of Let's Chalk About Mental Health chalk art volunteers in front of art installation

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.