Hi, my name is Nicolas Garnier, I am 39 years old, I live in Collegeville Pennsylvania, and I am a survivor of a pediatric osteosarcoma. Paris, France, April 1996 -I am in 10th grade, I love grunge music and riding motorcycles (no helmet) with my friends. I also like to bleach my hair. I am on the high school basketball team. We are terrible, but we have fun. For some time, my right knee has been hurting. I start skipping practice. One day, I can’t walk home from school. Parents, family doctor, local clinic X-ray, inner-city specialist MRI. After, we are driving home, I am sitting in the back. Silence. “So?”, I ask. “It’s a tumor”, my father responds. Blood rushes to my face, my hands are wet. I feel dizzy, like someone just hit me at the back of the head with a baseball bat. My throat hurts. My stomach hurts. Why is it so hard to breathe? Back home, that night, my father pulls our encyclopedia from the living room book shelf: Cancer. “Sarcome ostéogène de l’extrémité supérieure du tibia droi”9 months of intensive chemotherapy, 7 orthopedic surgeries over 4 years, 1 lung biopsy, 2 port-A-cath, 1 staph infection, 2 years of antibiotics, 42 inches of scar, 1 knee fusion, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
I got lucky. I made it. Now I have to figure out my life, in the middle of this shipwreck. I will study biology, I will study those “cells” that I kept hearing about. I want to understand what happened to me. On my college application, I wrote: I want to pierce the mysteries of life, of the infinitely small. In 2013, can you imagine how proud I was to graduate from McGill University with a PhD in Experimental Medicine?
Today, I try to put all that to good use. I work for Pfizer in Rare Disease Patient Advocacy, and I want to give a message of hope to all my brothers and sisters in arms, with the help of MIB Agents. Most importantly, my 3 wonderful children, Emmanuelle, Gabrielle and Samuel, are like little angels that were bestowed upon me and my dear wife Alicia.
Everyday I cherish my luck, and I try to be worthy of it.