MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’re seeing more activism from teens and young adults today than we have in previous generations.

Catarina Gomez is 18 years old and has already made such an impact on lives around her.

But she has big plans for the future — so big, not even cancer can get in the way.

For a teenager, Gomez is pretty plugged in to the world around her, watching the news all the time. And, like a lot in her generation, she isn’t settling for just knowing what’s going on.

“I love being active in politics and fighting for rights. I’ve been to rallies and protests and I think it’s so important,” she said.

So it’s no surprise her future involves helping others. She says she wants to become an immigration lawyer.

“I think it’s so important for our country to accept immigrants from other places because it makes the country stronger,” she said.

That all started with studying political science at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was just a couple months into freshman year when Gomez learned her plans would be put on hold.

“It started getting to a point in college where every morning I would throw up because I having these terrible headaches,” she said.

A trip to the emergency room showed her brain was dangerously swollen. Emergency surgery showed the reason was a cancer called Ependymona, a comparatively rare childhood cancer. It was thankfully caught early, but she volunteered for extra chemotherapy as part of a study.

She hopes that she can help other kids survive this rare cancer. And while she had to leave school this year for treatment at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, she’s still very much part of the college community.

“I had a ten-year plan, and then I got cancer, so it’s now a 15-year plan,” she said.

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