student Lauren Antognoli beat cancer 10 years ago at the age of 17, and now at 28 she plans to spend her life fighting cancer as a physician.
“I can see the world through a patient’s eyes,” said Antognoli. “You should never say, ‘I know how you feel.’ “But…I’ve been a patient before, and so I understand some of the anxieties and some of the questions.”
Antognoli is set to graduate from the post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at Georgetown University in 2013. She plans to take the MCAT next summer and hopes to attend medical school in the fall of 2014.
Her relationship with cancer started over 10 years ago.
On March 17, 2002 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, during her junior year of high school. Antognoli’s cancer was in remission just four months after she was diagnosed, but after chemotherapy and taking 21 pills a day, she thought she had experienced about all the medicine she could handle.
She graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, OH and decided to major in sociology and anthropology at Denison University in Granville, OH.
As a sociology major she spent much of her time externally observing the human cancer experience. By senior year she found herself back in the halls of hospitals, but this time she was there researching for her thesis on the childhood cancer experience. By interviewing childhood cancer survivors, Antognoli made connections between sociology and cancer.
“Every cancer experience is different,” she said, “even if you had the same diagnoses, at the same age and were treated at the same hospital. It’s going to be different depending upon your support system; depending on your socio-economical status; depending on your schooling.”
She felt a connection to the resiliency of children, not necessarily physical resilience, but emotional resilience – their drive.
Antognoli brings that same drive to her career.
She began working as a development associate in fundraising at Prevent Cancer Foundation (PCF) in Alexandria, VA in 2010. PCF, founded in 1985, raises funds for cancer prevention research and teaches the under-served and unaware proper prevention.
“Everything Lauren did was really big,” said Tanya Blue PCF’s director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving. “She never let things get her down.”
Antognoli spent a lot of time researching cancer prevention and cancer rates in under-served areas while writing grants for PCF. The more she learned, the more she realized she wanted to play a hands on role in cancer treatment and prevention. She decided to go back to school.
Antognoli applied for an Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults scholarship to support her studies. In April the organization publicly awarded her a yearly $2,500 scholarship at restaurant and bar in Georgetown at the conclusion of their Run Across America that began in Oceanside, CA.
“Our program is all about striving,” Brock Yetso, the CEO of Ulman said. “She’s a great example and a testament to the type of people we are fortunate to work with.”
Antognoli does not know what kind of physician she wants to be or where she wants to attend medical school after graduating from Georgetown University. She does know that she wants to help patients as best she can.
“When I was in the hospital I had excellent, excellent care,” said Antognoli. “I was very lucky to have an awesome group of doctors and nurses who I still talk with and visit nowadays. I was always thankful for that, but I always wondered about the people who didn’t receive excellent care…I to want provide good care because I received excellent care.”