Phoenix College student Jaziel Olmeda, was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was eight years old. He was known as “the kid with cancer,” said Olmeda -from childhood all the way through to high school- “that never got away from me.” For him, coming to Phoenix College was a chance to rewrite his legacy, to be known for who he is rather than the cancer he was once fighting.
At Phoenix College, Olmeda was no longer known as the kid with cancer, but was known as the guy chasing his dreams. “When I started at PC, it was a fresh start. I started this whole new me,” said Olmeda. He was known as, “the kid going to college because he’s following his dreams of being a nurse, not the Jaziel that has or had cancer,” said Olmeda. Starting with a clean slate in a supportive community was a tremendous change for the better and allowed Olmeda to begin the journey of studying to become a nurse to help others fight cancer.
“Once I went through my cancer you know, I started to see how my nurses treated me and how they were always there for me,” said Olmeda. “Some of my nurses even had cancer and that’s why they became nurses.” Two of his nurses, Roxy and Amanda, were particularly close with Olmeda because they, too, had suffered and survived cancer from a young age. For Olmeda, the example from his nurses during such an uncertain stage in his life became the reason why he wanted to provide the same care to others. “They know what it felt like to be told ‘You’re cancer-free,’ and ‘Your cancer came back.’”
Olmeda wants to be the same positive success story to other children with cancer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. And he wants to carry the torch for those who didn’t survive the fight. “Some of my friends, unfortunately, did pass away so I’m going to live my dreams for them,” said Olmeda. “We are going to succeed together.” Olmeda understands the power of hope and realizes that through choosing Phoenix College’s nationally-ranked nursing program he’ll be able to use his story to empower others.
“I want to say, ‘I was diagnosed here [Phoenix Children’s Hospital], I was treated here, and now I work here,” said Olmeda. “I can say: I had cancer and now I’m here; I made it through and you can, too!”