Meet Pediatric Nurse Practitioner & Ultimate Hiker, Cara Simon

Cara SimonCara Simon is not your average pediatric nurse practitioner. She enjoys her job at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, but she also enjoys listening to Prince and obsessing over her dog, Paul Simon.

Cara joined in CureSearch’s fight to end children’s cancer by signing up for Ultimate Hike. Although her father thought he had been scammed when he found out she was volunteering to hike 20 miles, she actually did it, and she was happy to meet new people and be part of something that is close to her heart.

We asked Cara a few questions about her Ultimate Hike experience and her thoughts on children’s cancer:

Q. Why did you become involved in Ultimate Hike and its mission to end children’s cancer?

A. I became involved in Ultimate Hike after receiving an email from CureSearch about it. I had never really hiked before, so I originally signed up as a personal challenge. I had recently been ill and wanted to prove to myself that I control my destiny and that illness doesn’t control it.

Cara SimonIt was only after signing up that I thought about the hike in relation to the many children I have cared for over the years. If they could tolerate the things that I ask them to do, usually with a smile on their face, I could hike 20 miles. Hiking 20 miles pales in comparison to undergoing cancer treatment.

While I was on the hike, there was plenty of time to think, especially since I’m not the fastest hiker. I came up with an analogy for the hike and leukemia therapy that helped me get through each leg of the hike.

  • The first leg was Induction and Consolidation: you are just getting started and it is hard.
  • The second leg was Interim Maintenance and Delayed Intensification: it started out easy but as you went on, it got harder with each mile, but you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • The third and final leg was Maintenance: the longest part of therapy, slow and steady gets it done.

In the last section you see the light at the end of the tunnel as the posters of children along the trail lift you up and carry you to the end.

Cara SimonQ. What do you enjoy most about Ultimate Hike?

A. The thing I enjoyed most about the hike was meeting the diverse group of people that were hiking and learning their stories of why they were hiking.

Q. What do you wish more people knew about children’s cancer?

A. When I tell people where I work, the response I get is, “That must be so sad.” My response is it can be, but for the most part, it’s not. They are children first and a child with cancer second. The cancer diagnosis doesn’t and shouldn’t define them.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who may not think that their support of CureSearch would make a difference?

A. We have made great strides in treating childhood cancer, but until the cure rate is 100%, there is still a lot of work to be done. Less than 5% of the national budget for cancer research goes toward pediatric cancer research. CureSearch funds much-needed research to advance finding a cure.

Q. What is your proudest accomplishment in life?

A. My greatest accomplishment in life is my son. I raised him as a single parent, along with family support, while working full-time and going to school. He is now 29 years old and I am very proud of the man he has become.

A big thank you to Cara for completing the Ultimate Hike challenge! If one of your resolutions is to get in better shape or to do something that matters in 2017, make it happen by signing up for Ultimate Hike or CureSearch Challenge here.

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