Thriver Spotlight: Meet Our Bud, Mohammed
Mohammed is a childhood cancer survivor and aspiring oncologist passionate about helping young adults feel seen and supported throughout their cancer experience. We were fortunate to chat with him amidst his college studies, including preparation for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) at the University of Illinois.
We went live on Instagram with Mohammed in October as part of our Thriver Thursday series — check out the convo here!
Mohammed’s Cancer Story
Mohammed was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age 15 after his sophomore-year spring break – a trip to the ER, a blood test, and petechiae (red dots on his body) led to his diagnosis.
Mohammed said he wasn’t sure how to react to his unexpected health situation as a young teen: “I was joking around about it the whole time – I was thinking this would be a great story to tell my friends tomorrow at school.”
“Tomorrow at school” wouldn’t happen for Mohammed, as he was transferred to the hospital for chemo treatment right away. Despite the abrupt absence, his high school teachers were understanding of the situation, and even froze his grades so he had the option to take on schoolwork or not.
Breaking the news to his large family was a challenge, but everyone was incredibly supportive. His high school friends and peers were, too, though sometimes it felt like their lives progressed while he was stuck behind. This is a common feeling for teens and young adults who face medical trauma, including buddhi’s founder, Kathleen Brown.
Mohammed underwent over three years of chemotherapy, finishing the summer after his freshman year of college in 2020. Despite his challenges, he made relationships and found inspiration from his medical team, who helped him determine what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
From Pediatric Oncology Patient, to Aspiring Provider
Mohammed knew he wanted to do something in oncology even before his diagnosis. With a heart for helping people, his experience in the pediatric oncology space solidified his passion for children’s medical practice.
“I got to interact with so many people that faced similar struggles that my family and I had to face. Getting to connect with so many amazing people – along with my fantastic support system of friends, family, doctors, nurses, and practitioners – helped me realize that I want to work as a pediatric oncologist someday,” he said.
Ultimately, it’s all about making an impact.
“We have an obligation to make sure our children and their children and their children inherit the best world possible.”
Community and Connection
Connecting with other cancer patients and survivors has been essential for Mohammed at all stages of his treatment and survivorship.
He met other thrivers and families at the hospital, through his work with the Illinois chapter of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and even partook in a trip to New York City with other thrivers through Sunshine Kids.
He continues to meet amazing families through his work with Lurie Children's Adolescent and Young Adult Advisory Council, where a group of young adults provides insight into the hospital’s program for thrivers aged 15-39.
“Talking to people that have endured the same difficulties as I did really helped me feel like I wasn't alone in my own struggles. Hearing how others dealt with the physical, mental, emotional, social, and cognitive struggles that come with a cancer diagnosis was vital in helping me deal with my own,” he said. “I look to live my life post-diagnosis and post-treatment on my own terms.”
Let’s get to know him better!
Fun Facts About Mohammed
He has a big family, with 15 aunts and uncles, ~50 first cousins, and a younger sister and brother.
He is proud of his Lebanese culture (especially the food!) and hopes to visit extended family in Lebanon soon.
He’s a Toronto sports fan with family in the area (he was born there, too).
What Mohammed likes to do for fun:
Watching and playing all sports, especially soccer, hockey, and basketball
Hanging out/FaceTime with family and friends
Learning to cook
“Don’t think your struggles are less than anyone else’s because someone has ‘gone through more’ – if I felt the same way about my own struggles, I wouldn’t have gotten the help I needed,” Mohammed said at the end of our Instagram Live. “There’s no such thing as a small problem.”