speakers

From left: Katie Sloan, 20 and Cheyenne Heflin, 19, share their childhood cancer stories and answer questions from moderator, UF Health clinical social worker Jennifer St. Clair, 37.

Cheyenne Heflin has been getting stares since she was 14 and had her right leg amputated because of Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer.

But she isn’t ashamed of her silver and black prosthetic leg.

“I always like telling people what happened so they can realize that this is a thing. It happens,” said 19-year-old Heflin, who’s been cancer-free for five years. “But it’s also not the end of the world.”

The UF biology freshman was one of two who spoke about their experiences with childhood cancer Wednesday evening in Pugh Hall. About six people came to the panel discussion “A Childhood Cancer Dialogue.” The event was a part of Do You Believe In Happy Endings?, a UF public relations campaign that started this semester and brings awareness to pediatric cancer, said Langston Dunbar, an ambassador leader and social media manager for the group.

UF Bateman team, a group of five public relations students, created the Happy Endings campaign for its client, With Purpose, a nonprofit organization that raises money for and brings awareness to children with cancer.

“We have all the facts, we have all the data, but it’s a lot different when you hear the story and you hear the survivors and how it affected them,” Dunbar said.

The other speaker, Katie Sloan, a 20-year-old Seminole State College special education junior, shared the story of her friend, Alex Ramos. Ramos was 15 when she died from Ewing Sarcoma, another rare form of bone cancer. 

“When she passed away it was heartbreaking and terrible, and I didn’t think that there was going to be a normal, or a different kind of happy after her,” Sloan said. “But I realized that she’s still here in everything that I do all the time.”

Wendy Velez, a UF international and global studies junior, said she attended the event because she is friends with Sloan. She wanted to learn more about lesser-known forms of cancer.

“I think it really does genuinely motivate me to want to act more towards helping the research, helping the awareness for childhood cancer,” Velez, 21, said.