Patient

From Cancer Patient to Volunteer

“In this position I feel like I’ve been given a purpose, and I wouldn’t have had this opportunity before. To be a part of cancer therapies, even my own, is a very special thing.”

“In this position I feel like I’ve been given a purpose, and I wouldn’t have had this opportunity before. To be a part of cancer therapies, even my own, is a very special thing.”

Once cancer treatment ends, hopefully with a clean bill of health, most patients hightail it away from the hospital, putting the endless batteries of tests, needle sticks and scans in their rearview mirror. It’s a rare patient who returns of their own volition.

But that’s exactly what David Hesmer did. Hesmer, 28, is a volunteer in the Shawn Hingtgen, Ph.D. lab, working to further the study of glioblastoma, a topic he knows a lot about.

Hesmer was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2016. Through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the NC Cancer Center, UNC Lineberger’s clinical arm, he still managed to find something to look forward to while he recovered — a chance to make a difference for other glioblastoma patients in the lab.

Hesmer figured he’d be more like a mascot to the lab team. Instead, they urged him to participate and even tried to convince him to do his own study. Hesmer said seeing first-hand some of the research advances into cancers like his is inspiring, and he has full confidence in the skill and insights of the Hingtgen lab team.

“In this position I feel like I’ve been given a purpose, and I wouldn’t have had this opportunity before. To be a part of cancer therapies, even my own, is a very special thing.”

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UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

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