UK HealthCare

Future Researcher Helps Markey Fight Back Against Cancer


GEORGETOWN, Ky. (June 20, 2011) – What began as a simple language arts class assignment turned into something much more exciting for one young Scott County Middle School student.

When 11-year-old Nickolas Wrobleski was assigned the task of creating an advertisement for a cause or product he believed in, he had no problem choosing his subject: the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center.

The inspiration came through his own personal experience with Markey – his grandfather, Mike, had been diagnosed with lung cancer years ago, and he received his treatment at UK.

"My first choice really was the Markey Cancer Center," Nickolas said. "Because I had some good ideas for that the second she gave us the homework assignment."

For a transcript of this video, click here.

By the time his grandfather’s cancer was discovered, it had already reached an advanced stage, and he died from the disease in 2007. However, Nickolas was moved by the staff's commitment to help his grandfather in any way they could, and he wanted to create his ad for Markey in the hopes that it would raise both awareness and funds for the cancer center.

 “I decided to make an ad so that it could possibly raise money for them,” Nickolas said. “So they could find better treatments, cures and ways to detect the sickness itself.”

Even at his young age, Nickolas already understands the importance of finding cancer in its early stages. Nickolas said his late grandfather never realized anything was seriously wrong, attributing his troubling symptoms to asthma.

In addition, his great-aunt – who Nickolas described as “the healthiest woman in America” – discovered too late that she had advanced ovarian cancer.

“No one would ever think she had any kind of sickness,” Nickolas said. “When she finally went to the doctor, they told her, ‘You have ovarian cancer, and you have two months to live.’ And she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I had no idea.’”

For a transcript of this video, click here

In his ad, Nickolas presents a series of objects used in famous fights. He and his classmates had been learning about Kentucky history and Muhammad Ali, so he thought about Ali fighting in boxing matches. He says his teacher loved the movie National Treasure, which made him think of how America fought back against King George III with the Declaration of Independence.

"So then I thought, you can fight back against cancer — with money," Nickolas said of the inspiration for his ad. "And I just went from there."

His teacher – and naturally, his mother – liked the ad so much that they suggested he send it to someone at the Markey Cancer Center. The director, Dr. Mark Evers, received the ad, along with a letter Nickolas had written. He was touched by the young man’s quest to help Markey fight back against cancer.

“I was humbled that even at such a young age, he thought so highly of the Markey Cancer Center and our staff,” Evers said. “And for him to encourage others to donate to our cancer researchers, to help them further their goal of eliminating cancer, is incredible.”

Nickolas, who didn’t know if he would get a response, was thrilled to hear back from Dr. Evers.

“I was like, wow, he wrote me back!” Nickolas said. “It was very thoughtful of him to e-mail me back, and I’m glad he did.”

Nickolas’s mother, Millie, says his ad is just the first step toward his future goals. Because of his experiences, Nickolas already has an idea of what he wants to do when he gets older – he wants to enter the medical field and conduct cancer research.

“He said some day he could look back and be like, ‘Oh, remember when I made that ad?’” Millie said. “It’s kind of what got him started… this is a great thing for him.”

For a transcript of this video, click here

Not only does Nickolas want to lead his own fight against cancer in the future, he says he’d like to start his career close to home.

"I was thinking of going to UK, because I know a lot about them, and they're a really good medical school," Nickolas said. "UK is probably one of my first choices."

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