Cancer survivor receives inspiration from ER Nurse, Iditarod

Cancer survivor receives inspiration from ER nurse and Iditarod
Updated: Mar. 3, 2022 at 7:30 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Lauren Guice loves spending her free time drawing with her stylist pen — but also has another superpower — having beaten cancer. In February 2020, Guice was diagnosed with a rare form of Ovarian cancer.

“Lauren doesn’t like the hospital,” Lauren’s mother Erica Guice said. “So for her to say I need to go to the hospital wa a big thing.”

Guice’s parents brought her to Alaska Regional Hospital looking for answers. That’s when they met Matt Paveglio, an emergency room nurse who Guice immediately created a bond with.

“I did let Matt know she was autistic. So, as soon as they knew that, they immediately — they were very, you know, just trying to keep her mind at ease, keep her comfortable, he was cracking jokes with her,” Erica Guice said.

While Guice’s mom and dad received the news that their daughter had a large mass on her stomach, Paveglio stayed with Guice. The two of them quickly began bonding over their shared love for dogs.

“He was showing me all his dogs. That made me really want one,” Lauren Guice said.

Paveglio also shared with Guice how he had a dream of someday racing in the Iditarod.

“He was like, oh you know, I’m trying to qualify for the Iditarod and I have dogs and Lauren was like well can I see,” Erica Guice said.

Shortly after meeting Paveglio, he decided to pay Guice a surprise with a gift. Paveglio collected 50 donated stuffed animal huskies from around the United States and gave them to Guice, so she could have an Iditarod team of her own.

Guice said she enjoys putting them on display and playing with them. Each dog, just like on a sled team, has their own special role.

Throughout Guice’s battle with cancer, her mother says the tale of the Iditarod has pushed her daughter to keep fighting against cancer. Her mother compares her daughter’s battle to when medical supplies were brought up to Nome and how in this year’s race, Paveglio will be bringing hygiene kits to the villages.

Additionally her mother says, throughout her battle, Guice would keep on chanting.

“She kept saying, we are almost to Nome. We’re almost to Nome and I said yes, we are almost to Nome,” Erica Guice said.

Now cancer free, Guice will not be considered in remission until she is 15 years old, five years after her initial diagnosis. But just like the dogs in the races, she is working her way toward the finish line of one day being in remission.

“Just like the Iditarod, just like the dogs we’re almost to Nome,” Erica Guice said.

Each day, she gets a little closer to reaching her “Nome.”

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