Episode 65: Growing up as a childhood cancer survivor

Cecilia Lang-Ree shares her experience as a childhood survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She shares some of her memories as an inpatient, her struggles with fitting in with her peers at school, and the evolution of her identity in relation to her survivorship. She also shares her discovery of her fertility issues and the importance of discussing fertility as early on as possible as a cancer patient. She ends the episode with powerful advice about owning your survivorship and the resources available for cancer survivors.

About our guest

Cecilia Lang-Ree is a childhood leukemia survivor, advocate, and healthcare Product Manager born and raised in the Bay Area. Since her diagnosis at age 4, Cecilia's personal and professional mission has become to make prevention information accessible to all. At work, she combines product strategy, user savvy, and her academic background in chronic disease prevention & behavioral design to pioneer consumer products that help people lead healthier, happier lives. 

Currently, Cecilia is the Senior Product Manager at Biolinq, a medical device company developing a minimally invasive glucose monitoring sensor for metabolic health. Cecilia holds an M.S. and B.A. from Stanford University, and outside of work enjoys hiking, skiing, trying new restaurants in San Francisco, and hanging out with her husband, Christian, and beloved family!

Watch the video of our episode on YouTube

  • 7 minutes:

    “I was very lucky that I had parents who could read scientific journal articles. They could read my clinical protocol and understand the potential side effects and take action to prevent them. They could be my advocates with doctors and nurses, but I saw firsthand that most of the other kids in the hospital did not have that. Many were children of undocumented immigrants or folks just did not have access to that kind of information. And so for me, that has really sparked, in my career, this passion for prevention, early detection, and really knowing that health data and health knowledge is power.”

  • 12 minutes:

    “I didn't want the attention. I wanted so badly just to fit in and be normal. I didn't want anybody to know, push it away, push it away, push it away. Don't put this intention on me. I never wanted anybody to mention the C word, cancer, because when the C word got dropped in the classroom or anywhere else, it just changed the energy in the room. It just sucked all the energy out and people look at you differently.”

  • 41 minutes:

    “I would just say that again, this notion that survivorship begins now, that means getting actively engaged in your side effects, doing what you can now, and also not hesitating to seek out resources like a survivorship clinic. I would really encourage folks to look up those types of resources. And you know, for fertility specifically, there are many fertility clinics and survivorship clinics that offer free or reduced cost fertility preservation services like egg freezing for cancer patients or survivors. So even if you think that this might be beyond your means or inaccessible, you know, this is actually an option for a lot of people and it was for me too. So ask your care team. Be your biggest advocate… think of yourself as a survivor from day one and you'll be able to be on the right path towards the healthy life that you want after cancer.”

Disclaimer: This podcast blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this podcast blog or materials linked from this podcast blog is at the user's own risk. The content of this podcast blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.