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Grad Student Who Battled Cancer to Lead National Advisory Board

Daniel Bral

Daniel Bral, chair of Teen Cancer America's Young People's Advisory Committee, was diagnosed at age 11 with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

February 17, 2014 Teen Cancer America, co-founded by rock stars Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, has appointed a Georgetown graduate student to serve in a leadership role with the national nonprofit.

Daniel Bral, who had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a child and is pursuing his master’s degree in physiology and biophysics within Georgetown’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Program, is now chair of Teen Cancer America’s Young People’s Advisory Committee.

The national cancer nonprofit organization seeks to improve the lives of teens and young adults with cancer. Daltrey and Townshend are part of the rock band The Who.

Teen Needs and Concerns

“With Daniel leading the advisory committee, Teen Cancer America can be sure that the interests of the young people it serves will always be at the forefront of our developments,” says Simon Davies, the organization’s executive director.

Bral, who is now president of his class, was diagnosed at age 11 with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of white blood cells.

The Young People’s Advisory Committee helps advocate for teens and young adults across the country who are facing cancer – raising their needs and concerns to the board of directors.

“There is a lot going on at that age that needs to be attended to and medical professionals should be cognizant of it,” Bral says. “Puberty, for example, is a huge thing that we can’t overlook. It’s a hard experience and teens are already going through a difficult point in their lives with battling cancer.”

Healing Environment

Daniel Bral  “Being in a physiology program I really get to learn about the way the body works, what happens when things go wrong, and learn about the complementary and integrative medical approach to helping with the healing process,” says Daniel Bral about his graduate program at Georgetown.

Bral first met Davies through the organization's work in establishing the Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, which works to improve the quality of care for teens and young adults with cancer.

The graduate student helped plan and design UCLA’s young adult unit, beginning in 2012. He attended meetings with architects and interior designers and offered feedback based on his own memory of being a teen fighting cancer.

“We want to create an environment that is calming and cultivates a healing environment,” he says.

Childhood Dream

Upon completing his master’s degree, Bral hopes to attend medical school and someday to practice integrative medicine.

“Being in a physiology program I really get to learn about the way the body works, what happens when things go wrong, and learn about the complementary and integrative medical approach to helping with the healing process,” Bral says.

Bral has made a strong impression on Aviad Haramati, a professor of biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology, who co-directs the CAM program.

“Daniel is a very bright, inquisitive and insightful student who came to our CAM program to learn about the state of the science for various alternative and integrative approaches to treating chronic illness,” Haramati says. “As the class president, he leads by example, displaying both objectivity and empathy. I am sure he will be a great asset to Teen Cancer America in his leadership role.”

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