By the time Hadiyah-Nicole Green was 4 years old, she had lost her mother and her grandparents. Hadiyah-Nicole and her brothers went to live with her Auntie Ora Lee Smith and Uncle Gen Lee in St Louis, Missouri.

When she was in her early 20s, both Hadiyah-Nicole’s aunt and uncle were diagnosed with different forms of cancer. At 22 years old, she became the primary caregiver to the couple that had raised her.

Photo: “Auntie” Ora Lee Smith and Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green.

Watching these two important people have their lives upended by cancer and its effects inspired Hadiyah-Nicole to dedicate her life to fighting the disease.

She came to StoryCorps with her cousin, Tenika Floyd, to reflect on her aunt and uncle, and the impact that their lives had on her.

Today, Dr. Green has successfully developed technology that has killed cancer in laboratory mice, without the use of chemotherapy and radiation, and without any observable side effects. Her work is in the process of moving forward into human trials.

Dr. Green is an Assistant Professor at Morehouse School of Medicine. She also founded the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation in honor of her late aunt.

Top Photo: Hadiyah-Nicole Green and Tenika Floyd at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, Georgia on January 28, 2017. By Jacqueline Van Meter for StoryCorps.