To Peter Tran, a 19-year-old cancer survivor, JoyRx Mentorship program graduate, and artist from Portland, OR, mentorship means connection.
A social butterfly, Peter has a wide circle of family and friends, and easily bonded with the nurses and staff at Randall Children’s Hospital who helped him during treatment. Despite his large support system, he still experienced feelings of isolation during hospitalization—until he met his Joy Mentor, Vlad, who became a close friend.
“It was different with Vlad,” says Peter. “My family, friends, and nurses tried to connect through my diagnosis, but Vlad connected directly with me.” During the spring and summer of 2019, Peter and Vlad got to know each other through playing games and discussing his love of art. “A favorite game was when we’d go back and forth, answering questions about one another, so we both got to know each other better. It felt good to have him around. His presence made me feel motivated to get up and interact, even though I was really tired.”
Today, after five months of treatment, Peter is a healthy college student whose cancer experience has inspired him to give back in every way imaginable. He is currently studying nursing at George Fox University, and hopes to work in pediatric oncology, using his personal experience to care for young patients. And, when he’s finished with school, he’d love to become a Joy Mentor himself.
In the meantime, Peter, who loves painting, photography, and graphic design, is using his artistic gifts to bring Joy to everyone who made a positive impact during his treatment. He created a beautiful, vibrant painting for Randall Children’s Hospital, full of meaningful symbols each encompassing elements of his treatment experience—a purple heart for CCA, Randall’s bamboo garden and lanterns in the entry hall—as a thank-you to the nurses and staff he grew close to while at the hospital.
Peter has also organized multiple fundraisers to support CCA’s JoyRx programs: first at his high school, where he worked alongside other leadership students to make and sell Halloween candy bags and pumpkin grams. Next, as part of his school’s National Honors Society he encouraged students to sell Valentine’s candy and paper hearts that decorated the school’s hallways, and this past September, he sold stickers that he designed in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
“I’ve always been interested in graphic design, and I have really gotten into sticker making, says Peter. “I got the word out mainly through social media, and I completely exceeded my goal for the sticker sales. Friends, family, and my classmates at George Fox really stepped up and purchased…I didn’t expect so much support!”
We are so inspired by Peter’s giving heart and positive outlook—and his keen ability to take life’s Joys and challenges and transform them into something beautiful. “I am very thankful to be part of this community. CCA wasn’t just there for my treatment; they’re still invested, and I’m still very interested in giving back whether it be directly or indirectly. Through the stickers, I was able to tie everything back to Joy. I hope that through what I’m doing, I can inspire other children. I wanted to use my gift to make a difference, and CCA allowed me to take my spark and let it grow.”