Nitin Ramachandran was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma brain tumor in late March 2014. He was 12 years old at the time. After successful surgery that lasted nearly 10 hours to remove the tumor (performed by Dr. John Myseros of Children’s National Medical Center), Nitin traveled to Pennsylvania to receive intensive rounds of chemotherapy and proton therapy radiation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). He was there, at CHOP, when the team that bears his name first hit the streets of our nation’s capital for the Race for Hope DC in May 2014.
Nitin, now 19, is a rising sophomore at Georgetown University.
Nitin’s brain tumor journey had begun earlier that year, in January of 2014. The seventh-grader was a competitive and highly-ranked Mid-Atlantic junior tennis player when he started experiencing severe headaches and eye pain, especially in the morning. After multiple doctor’s visits to different specialists, his family ultimately decided to take him for a CT scan “just to rule anything out.”
“I had actually [gone to a] tournament the weekend before…and was playing like any other kid,” says Nitin. “I was living what I like to call a ‘normal’ life, and had no idea what was about to come after the CT scan that revealed a brain tumor.”
The news justifiably shocked the Ramachandran family. And like all parents learning of a child’s serious illness, especially brain cancer, Nitin’s mother, Jyothi, went into “overdrive” mode.
“I went on [family medical leave] from my work immediately and our sole purpose was to find the best treatment available out there and tackle it head-on,” says Jyothi. Which is how the family initially ended up at Children’s National under the care of world-renowned pediatric neuro-oncologist (and NBTS advisor), Dr. Roger Packer, and then at CHOP.
The radiation and chemotherapy treatments left Nitin fatigued, but the resilient young man set his sights on a return to the tennis court to keep him going.
“I wanted to get back that part of my life that I lost,” Nitin told the Washington Post in 2017, for a feature the paper published on his story.
After treatment, Nitin worked hard to regain the strength and athleticism needed to get back on the court. And while he’s unable to compete at the same level as before, he still loves to play and participates on his college’s club tennis team.
Nitin poses with his team at the Race for Hope DC.
Now 19, Nitin is a rising sophomore at Georgetown University, where he’s majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Math and Business. And while he’s grateful to have survived his brain tumor, be playing tennis again, and attending an elite university, he knows childhood cancer can, unfortunately, leave its mark – even on those with overall good outcomes.
“Although I love to think I am living a ‘normal’ life, I still have many check-ups and appointments for things that were impacted during my treatment such as endocrine, vision, and hearing,” says Nitin.
That’s why it’s been so important for him to participate, every year he’s been physically able to, at the Race for Hope DC.
“I credit many organizations and the support of our community for helping me recover so well, such as NBTS, and I make it an effort to give back to my community by helping raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer in any way I can,” says Nitin. “As a family, we also do everything we can to give back to these organizations that were so impactful during my treatment and help support those going through similar illnesses.”
Nitin’s creating change so that kids like him in the future can live long, uninterrupted, and ‘normal’ lives.
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