West Virginia University School of Pharmacy student who spent most of her high school years in outpatient chemotherapy treatments was inspired to pursue her degree because her doctor explained to her how the cancer-fighting drugs were being used. 

While going through treatment, Autumn Smith made it a point to learn about every drug she took, how many milligrams of each drug she received and the sided effects of each one.

“My doctor was good at telling me why I was getting the drugs,” Smith said. “I thought that was super cool and that’s what inspired me to go into pharmacy.”

Smith, who lives in Brandywine, a small Pendleton County community in West Virginia’s eastern mountains, found out she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia six days after she turned 15. In addition to daily oral chemotherapy, her family drove her to her treatments every Friday, a two-hour trip. 

Now she’s interested in pediatric oncology.

A third-year pharmacy student, Smith participated in the School of Pharmacy’s Go Gold for Kids with Cancer, one of the School of Pharmacy’s events during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Proceeds from the School’s fundraising events will go to the Childhood Cancer Association, which provides support and resources to families who have kids with cancer at no cost to them.

Go Gold for Kids with Cancer is an international campaign whose mission is dedicated to making childhood cancer a priority through policy, supporting research, awareness and providing educational resources to children with cancer, survivors and their families. 

Smith said events like Go Gold for Kids with Cancer are important because they are the first step in finding a cure. 

“To develop drugs and the clinical research necessary to have good cure rates for cancer starts with awareness,” she said. “If you don’t have awareness, you don’t have funds.”

Originally from Christa Currey for WVU Today