On June 14, 2014, Memorial Sloan Kettering held its 8th annual Pediatric Convocation celebration. Convocation is a special graduation ceremony for former and current pediatric patients who have earned high school or GED diplomas. This year, 30 graduates participated in the ceremony.
“Ten years ago, when I was just seven years old and only in the second grade, I was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma and was given just six months to live,” explained Sydney Sims in her keynote speech. The family discussed their refusal to accept this bleak prognosis. They sought a second opinion, and ultimately treatment, at MSK, where brain tumor experts have vast experience in caring for children with this type of cancer.
Sydney’s treatment began with am extensive surgical procedure to extract the tumor from her adrenal gland and remove affected lymph nodes. The journey to becoming cancer-free wasn’t easy, admitted Sydney, who went through five and a half years of treatment. The Sims family attributed their ability to get through treatment to the care and support they received from MSK staff, and to Sydney’s positive attitude. “Had we gotten this surgery anywhere else but Sloan Kettering, God only knows if we’d be here today,” said Sydney’s father.
Sydney, who has been cancer-free for five years and is about to begin college, counseled fellow graduates to celebrate the little things in life, and to do what makes them happy. “Class of 2014, there’s a big world out there, so go out and explore it!”