The Future is Bright
*This story is a patient’s first-person experience and is not an endorsement of any drug or activity by MPNRF. Please consult with your physician (preferably an MPN specialist) before making any therapy or lifestyle change.
Simran, like many teenagers, loves going to the movies just as much as she loves adventures, hiking, running cross country, playing soccer and the violin, but she’s unlike a lot of other teens in that at just sixteen years old she is razor focused on her future career. With dreams of becoming a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, Simran hopes to someday help children like herself. Diagnosed at fourteen years old with Essential Thrombocythemia, Simran isn’t using her diagnosis as an excuse, quite the opposite in fact. As she says, “ My MPN has helped me with something: deciding my future. My first hematologist, Dr. Winter, was one of the best doctors I have ever met…Dr. Winter inspired me to want to become a pediatric hematologist and oncologist. Now I am exposing myself to medical opportunities such as the medical club at school and the Youth Empowerment Program at the hospital I get treatment at.” And Simran hopes the MPN community can one day help her with shadowing and clinical experiences.
Initially, before her diagnosis, Simran was nauseous and dealt with migraines that lasted up to two weeks. As a soccer player and runner, Simran was conditioned to running long distances, so it was strange that she was getting nauseous after practices. Her doctor didn’t find any issues or cause for concern; it was her mother though who insisted on a blood test. That’s when it was discovered at age fourteen Simran had a high platelet count. However, after receiving treatment Simran now experiences these symptoms much less and says, “I’m able to live a fairly normal life which is wonderful.”
Simran’s father Manoj says there aren’t many teenagers with ET, so the data isn’t extensive and trying to determine the best care and treatment options can be difficult. He suggests that parents keep meticulous medical records of their child and stay on top of everything, even if it means being a pain to the doctor. The Bhardwaj’s are grateful for the treatment Simran has received at the University of New Mexico, especially the care of Dr. Stuart Winter who was Simran’s first pediatric hematologist. And Manoj’s hope for the future is that the genetic mutation that causes ET will be identified.
While it would be perfectly understandable for Simran to take it easy, that’s not her style. A driven, spirited, and intelligent young woman, at just sixteen, Simran has learned one of life’s toughest lessons. A lesson that takes some a lifetime to figure out. When you can identify the good in the tragic, like Simran, and recognize that challenges are opportunities for self-discovery and growth, that is a special gift.