Vanessa Achterhof was diagnosed with type 2 Wilms’ tumor six years ago in December, and since has had one of her kidneys removed.
The 15-year-old from Baldwin, Wis., had 18 weeks of chemotherapy followed by physical therapy. She continues to have checkups every six months at Children’s with Dr. Kris Ann Schultzto monitor her kidney.
Vanessa said three of her favorite nurses at Children’s helped her through the life-changing experience.
“Linda always makes my day and tells me I was one heck of a strong girl. She would always tell me how beautiful I was, even with no hair,” Vanessa said. “To this day, she remembers me and can still put a big smile on my face.
“Jody the social worker is a wonderful person as well. She was always so pleasant and talked to all of us. She had wonderful ideas to help us out and made our whole family feel special.There is one other nurse that I will never forget. I was in Children’s on Christmas Eve night and had a night nurse who told me I was a strong young girl who could push through anything. She was also a cancer survivor of Wilms’ tumor, and if she made it through it, she said I could, too. Unfortunately, we never got her name.”
Cancer hasn’t slowed Vanessa down – now or in planning for the future.
She is considering being a social worker, working with cancer patients.
“I would love to make their day, play games with them and make them feel special,” Vanessa said. She also wants to go into something to do with animals, specifically cows. She loves the outdoors and spending time on her father’s farm.
Even though Vanessa has been through a lot, she has emerged through it all a caring person with a heart of gold to help anyone in need.