July 11, 2023

Young Adult Cancer Science Fair Projects


I lived a deprived childhood.  I never was part of a science fair.  Seems like everyone else I know had science fairs… maybe my school was just too cheap.

I got a chance to make up for it last night as an author at a Chicago literary fair.  The challenge was to make science fair-like projects out of our book.  (Sweet PR change of pace from my usual writing articles and planning speeches.)

I took quotes from my book Everything Changes, and wrote them on little paper doors that you could life up and read about the cancer patient who said them.   For example:

“I’d ask my doctor a question, and he’d say, ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,’ and I’m like, ‘No, f*** you. This is my body, I’ll cross it right now.’”

Amilca Mouton Fuentes, 26, leukemia.  Lives in her parent’s house with her husband, 15 month old son, and her siblibings.  Seven adults and one bathroom.
Loves Krispy Kremes, and is devoted follower of Ama, an Indian spiritual leader.

“I believe that there are times when it is appropriate to receive help, just as there are times when it is appropriate to give help. If you ever refuse to receive, you are unnecessarily putting a barrier between yourself and the love of others. It’s normal for humans to live in communities where there is love and relationship, and receiving is just as important a part of being in that community as giving is.”

Richard Acker, 36, colon cancer.  Dad, husband, environmental lawyer.  Evangelical Christian dedicated to preserving God’s creations.

I had eight quotes in total that helped break stereotypes of cancer patients, and taught a bit about some of our attitudes and lives.  But I still feel like I ultimately failed in that I couldn’t come up with a connection between young adult cancer and an exploding baking soda and vinegar volcano.

If you had unlimited time and money to create an outlandish, over the top, large scale science fair project about your life as a young adult patient, and it were going to be show at a place like…let’s say ASCO, what would you make?

Read more about Amilca and Richard in Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide To Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

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  1. Kate Says:
    July 11th, 2009 at 7:51 PM

    A chemo simulator. I’m convinced we could come up with different ones that way physicians and everyone else involved in our lives could get the feel of what the chemo for different diseases felt like. Of course we’d need to find a way to get them to agree to stay in the simulator for about a week so they could have the fun of some of the more delayed side effects as well.

    We could simulate the skin sensations and the nausea but I haven’t figure out how we’d cover hair loss and join pain. Any ideas?

  2. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    July 11th, 2009 at 10:54 PM

    What a brilliant idea Kate! Last night, a friend who is a doctor told me she is pregnant with her first kid. We talked briefly about how it is good that she will now understand the physical reality of many of her pregnant patients. I was reflecting on this conversation today and thinking about doctors who have experienced cancer and chemo themselves. I wonder in what ways, if any, it changes their experience of doctoring. As for your project I’m sure we could inject something that causes joint pain and have them wear a bald wig….

  3. Casey Weisner Says:
    September 26th, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    They r t2 ckute togetha ilovee dem. It waz so cute when they were holdin handz <3 :] aww !!!!

  4. Anonymous Says:
    April 14th, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    i overcame my cancer ooooooooooooww

  5. nerdsrule Says:
    September 5th, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    dude thats gross

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