AYA Patient Panelists
AYA Cancer Survivor
Rachel is the Program Manager of the Reid R. Sacco AYA Cancer Program at Tufts Medical Center. In addition to supporting patients and the AYA Care team with survivorship care coordination, she is a regional and national speaker on the impact of the young adult cancer experience and the importance of educating and empowering AYA survivors to seek long term follow-up care. Rachel completed a masters degree from Lesley University in Intercultural Relations with a focus on emerging adult cancer survivors as their own cultural group.
She has explored 27 countries and 29 US states, and looks forward to the time it is safe to travel to new destinations. Rachel enjoys nature photography and sending letters to keep in touch with family and friends.
Rachel was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 25 and completed treatment nearly 13 years ago. While she received excellent medical care in New York where she was living at the time, she felt she lacked psychosocial support and information on potential late effects from treatment. Since then she has leveraged her lived experience to, hopefully, impact others who have been diagnosed with cancer.
AYA Cancer Survivor
Matt is the Clinical Director for Greater Hartford Physical Therapy. He received his Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Connecticut in 2005 and his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Northeastern University in 2012.
Over the last 15 years, Matt has really enjoyed having an active role in restoring function and improving the quality of life in his patients' lives in both the outpatient and home care settings.
In 2017, Matt was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in his femur at the age of 35. His treatment consisted of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, which he completed in 2018 at Connecticut Children's Medical Center after he was referred to the Reid R Sacco AYA program from the University of Connecticut Health Center. His family was grateful to have a facility and sarcoma expert only 20 minutes away from their home. He received superior care at CCMC and continues to support the hospital and AYA program by leading a first-place team at the annual 5K Reid's Run three years in a row.
After completing treatment, Matt and his family promised to take a family vacation after each clear scan, and have been since April 2018. Matt will celebrate 13 years of marriage to his wife Courtney this August. Together they have two children; Evangeline who is eight and Jackson who is five. He continues to live each day to the fullest and enjoys golfing and spending quality time with his family.
AYA Cancer Survivor
Josh is a Presale Analyst for the Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company. He strategically managed all requests for proposals (RFPs) including questionnaires and side agreements as well as supporting and developing additional proposal requirements. In addition to reviewing insurance contracts, Josh is a regular spokesperson for the Reid R. Sacco AYA Cancer Alliance. He speaks annually at the Reid’s Run 5K as well as assists in creating marketing content on behalf of the Reid R Sacco AYA Cancer Alliance. Josh graduated Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing in May 2014.
In December 2014 Josh was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. After nine months of chemotherapy and surgery to replace his femur bone and knee he was cancer free. But in Fall 2016 he relapsed with the cancer spreading to his left lung. Following surgery, during which part of his lung was resected, he was able to enroll in a clinical trial. This past Fall Josh surpassed four years in remission.
Josh is just now adjusting back to a normal life. For many years, his future was uncertain, so he does not take any time for granted. He wants to travel the world and is looking forward to a time when he will be able to do so. In the meantime, he continues to leverage his experience in assisting others who are in similar situation as he was. He hopes that “one day we will have more answers than questions, and that nobody will be in a position where they have no more options.”