Nicole, leukemia survivor

As an active 14-year-old high school student, Nicole loved cheerleading, competing in beauty pageants and hanging out with her friends. But this all changed when she learned that her fatigue and flu-like symptoms were the effects of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), an aggressive disease that rendered her bone marrow 97 percent cancerous.

Nicole spent the next three and a half months at City of Hope, fighting the cancer with a daily regimen of chemotherapy and blood and platelet transfusions.

While this put her in remission, she was not cured. Fortunately, Nicole was a candidate for a bone marrow transplant: her malfunctioning marrow cells would be replaced with healthy marrow from a matching unrelated donor.

After two bone marrow transplants and tremendous perseverance, Nicole is back to living the life she once knew – and making up for lost time. A self-confessed adrenaline junkie, loves being outdoors. She has done horse riding, bull riding, skateboarding and swimming with sharks in the waters of Hawaii, and has a long list of goals, including diving the Great Barrier Reef.

When she visits the children in the same pediatric ward she once resided in, she tells the young patients to never give up, sharing her own experience as encouragement.