Her voice at first sings softly, then gradually gains intensity and
rises to a crescendo as she belts out the refrain of a tune she and her dad
co-wrote: “You’re not standing alone!”
15-year-old Carlie Gonzalez has been singing and making music for as
long as she can remember. But these days singing has new meaning. After eight
months of intensive treatment for Ewing
sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, her powerful voice is also a symbol of her
physical and emotional strength.
Three weeks after school started in September 2015, Carlie began to
feel a pain in her collarbone. Since she also played volleyball, when an X-ray
showed nothing, the doctor suggested the pain was likely something minor,
caused by sport. Carlie’s mom, Julie, wasn’t convinced. They sought a second
opinion at another hospital, and this time discovered Carlie had a tumor in her
They immediately sought care at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s. On
October 12, Carlie began a grueling chemotherapy regimen – infusions five times
a week for a week, followed by a week off – a cycle that continued for eight
months. She also had surgery January 8. Finally, on May 21, she received her
last chemotherapy infusion.
“I used to sing for literally hours at a time,” notes Carlie. And not
quiet tunes either – but truly powerful songs ranging from pop/rock to gospel.
“Right now my voice isn’t quite as strong,” Carlie claims. “But it’s coming
back.” On this late-July day, her voice sounds remarkably robust.
In fact, throughout treatment, Carlie never stopped singing. She had
plenty of tired days, when she couldn’t muster energy to belt out tunes. But on
the good days, she’d be back on the keyboard and testing her voice again. And
throughout treatment she continued live performances, singing at church,
fundraisers and other live events.
Throughout this journey, she hasn’t hidden the visible effects of her
treatment. She always bared her bald head proudly. And these days, she often
chooses outfits that show off her dual scars – one on her collar bone from the
surgery and the other on her upper chest from the port (a central line used for
chemotherapy infusions, blood transfusions and more).
Carlie was never too bothered when people gazed at her bald head or
scars. And yet, she also always has wanted people to look beyond that – to know
that she’s much more than her cancer diagnosis. Here’s what Carlie would like
people to see in her: She is a singer and a musician; music is a fundamental
part of her life and always will be.
September is Childhood
Cancer Awareness Month – and this month, Carlie and other children at
Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s are sharing this message: We are more than you
see. Don’t focus on the side effects of our treatment – see who we really are. Learn more, see more stories, and join
the campaign at DanaFarberBostonChildrens.org/MoreThanYouSee
Carlie Sings at Fenway ParkIn the video below, watch and listen as Carlie performs “God Bless America” during the 7th inning of a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
Rated the top pediatric cancer center by U.S. News & World Report
In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the children and teens at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s are sharing this message: We are more than you see.