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Child cancer survivor now caring for patients at Mass. hospital where he received treatment

FITCHBURG, Mass. — A new medical resident at UMass Memorial Medical Center has an interesting story to share with his patients.

As a child he was a patient there, fighting and beating cancer.

“What I remember is I was having a lot of joint pains, aches,” said Kyle Hofer, who was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia when he was eight years old and growing up in Fitchburg. “What was actually happening was the cancer cells from by bone marrow had blood receding into my joints causing that pain. It took until one day I got home, and my fingers and hands were actually completely purple.”

Hofer received the care that saved his life at the UMass Memorial Children’s Center in Worcester. He was treated for 3 ½ years.

“The treatments were not great. Often times after chemotherapy and having taken my medications, I would feel much worse. You know, that’s kind of the name of the game there.”

Today he’s back in the UMass Memorial system but for an entirely different reason.

“Almost 20 years later, I’m working on that floor as part of my rotation curriculum.”

That’s because he’s Doctor Hofer now.

Boston 25 News met him while he was working at the UMass Memorial Fitchburg Family practice, but he’s also been back at UMass Memorial in Worcester.

He’s even bumped into some people he has seen a while.

Like an oncologist who treated him but was now training him. “I was like Oh my goodness! But it was a huge privilege.”

Don Hofer, Kyle’s father, said his son set his sights on becoming a doctor while he was getting treatment, showing a maturity way beyond his years.

“When we used to be at the hospital with him, he talked about that because he didn’t want anybody ever have to go through it again. He wanted to cure cancer.”

Kyle Hofer thinks his experience will make him a better doctor.

“I kind of jokingly refer to myself as a professional patient in that I’ve live it. I’ve lived with what it’s like to have an acute scary potentially terminal illness with chronic side effects. I get it in a way that not everyone understands.

It’s been a long road for Hofer to get to this point in his life. For him, it’s all about making lemonade when life gives you lemons.

“The alternative reality is I could wallow in it and kind of let it be something that I’m upset about all the time. But you know, I’d rather have this thing that happened to me and if I can use it to help other people with it, then you know, I’ve beaten it.”

Both Kyle and his father want to give a shout out to the Fitchburg school system.

They say some great teachers there really supported him. He never got behind on his work or had to repeat a grade, despite missing a lot of class time.

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