As a little boy, Matt DiVeronica believed he was the child depicted in the St. Jude logo. Today, he chuckles at the memory.
“I always felt special and important when I was at St. Jude,” says Matt, who is now in his final year of medical residency at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. “Everybody was excited to see me; the atmosphere was so positive. I think that’s one of the reasons why I thought the logo was me.”
St. Jude has been an integral part of Matt’s life for years. At 14 months old, the native Floridian traveled to Memphis for treatment of neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nerve tissues. Throughout his childhood and young adulthood, he returned to Memphis for regular checkups, spending most of those years under the care of Melissa Hudson, MD, director of the hospital’s Cancer Survivorship Division.
A propensity for science—paired with frequent interactions with doctors and other medical professionals—helped Matt realize that “being a doctor just felt right.”
As an adult, Matt enrolled in the St. Jude LIFE study, an initiative that brings childhood cancer survivors back to campus to study the long-term effects of their disease and its treatment. St. Jude is the world’s first institution to embark on such a project, which provides a uniform clinical assessment for a large group of childhood cancer survivors.
Although he plans to practice internal medicine, the long-term survivor says he finds the field of cancer survivorship intriguing.
“I think the care of adult survivors of childhood cancer is going to be an ever-increasing field,” he says. “They’re a special population who need specialized care. That’s one thing that I could potentially go into.”
Abridged from Promise, Winter 2014