Janna Corsetti’s advice to young patients

Janna Corsetti of Bow, NH is this year’s Honorable Mention Winner of the Andre Sobel Award.  Her practical advice to young cancer patients, “it’s okay to freak out!” and “don’t be a robot,” were what she wishes a friend or family  member had written to her when she was in treatment for a synovial sarcoma. 

Janna is now attending Lesley University with a major in Art Therapy. She writes, “I have many big dreams and goals. My largest dream is to use what I learn from my higher education to help as many people as I can and spread as many smiles as possible. I love to laugh, hike, climb, doodle, and many other things… Most of all, however, I love to smile. I am ever grateful to the Andre Sobel Foundation for generously giving me their Honorable Mention award and I hope the words I wrote aid in spreading a smile to all those who read it. “



Letter from a Friend

Don’t think about it. Don’t be a robot. You’ve got this.

Everyone else will tell you things, trying to be supportive.  They’ll say, “You can do this” or “You’re strong enough” and they will genuinely believe it. I’m here to tell you that it is okay to not be. It’s okay to freak out, to cry, to scream at the top of your lungs.  You deserve that chance.  You deserve to be able to not be strong.  To crumble just a bit but when you do remember to not give in. Do not do what others want you to. Do not be the robot who willingly gives in to treatments and therapies and classes because you believe that it is what is best for everyone else. Do what you want. Fight it. FREAK OUT.  Let loose, girl, because with everything that’s going on, that’s the one thing you really need to to. Run away for a second. Run to that tree, run to that mountain, run to a place that allows you to breathe again and forget about everything.

Think about the good things. The positives in life that give you so much to be happy about.  Think about the smile on your mother’s face every time you make that grade in that class that your struggle so hard with. The satisfaction that comes when you finish the grandest novel and you can snap the book closed. Think about the laughter you cause a friend to burst out in because you did something crazy or silly. The smile you put on our sister’s face when you give her the tightest hug you can manage and squeeze the wind from her lungs because you needed to know just how much you love her. Feel the wind whip your hair around your face as you summit the greatest mountain you have ever climbed, or the sweat drip down your back as you make it to the very top of the tallest tree. Take in the view for miles and miles; hear the birds call out to one another as you sit just breathing. That is the most important thing I think, remember to breathe.

Do what is best for you. Just know that there are people who love you. Know that this is not your fault.  There are some things in life that are out of your control. Do not let this stupid think that happened to you kill your magic inside. It may be corny, but there is one thing that poet Christopher Poindexter wrote that I think you need to know:

“the problem is you think

you are not magic

from any distance you

appear as all things stunnign

do; they force us to forfeit

all we knew before,

you are exploding stars

and tragically forgotten truths

the way the ocean sways

and ever so illuminating


you are as magic

as magic gets,

as brilliant as brilliance


as unexplainably

beautiful as anything

has ever been.

to think you are not magic,

well, darling,

I guess even our thoughts

can betray us

and be fools.”

Do not forget that. You are as magic as magic gets. Let this magic ignite a fire in you to keep pushing through and be the best you can be.  I know you will get through this and that it will make you and even better human than ever before. Don’t think about it. Don’t be a a robot.  You’ve got this.