September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time for Americans to reflect on the challenges faced by the thousands of young people living with the disease, and honor the memories of those who have passed. The medical community has made great strides in treating pediatric cancer, but we still have a long way to go; cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease for all children under the age of 15.
While we support the thousands of brave children battling cancer, and honor those we’ve lost, we should also take a moment to celebrate the astounding progress that’s been made in treating it. To all the doctors, researchers, volunteers and families who are working tirelessly towards a cure or brightening the day of a patient with cancer, we’d like to say thank you. In honor of your amazing efforts, here are a few stories about strength, hope and treatment, which personify your dedication and resolve to stand up to cancer.
R.J. was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 11 years-old. As a result he missed almost an entire school year. But after 7 long months of treatment he was finally reunited with his classmates. In this video R.J. reflects on treatment, life with leukemia and what it was like to roll up his sleeves and get back to school.
Read the rest of his story here.
Meet ‘Lexi’ Kittle, a 7 year old battling a bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma. Lexi was among the first patients in the country to receive a mobile form of hydration therapy, which helps prevent adverse reactions to specific cancer fighting drugs. Hydration can be a long process; some patients spend over 48 weeks in hospitals for hydration during the tenure of their treatment. But thanks to the development of home hydration— which let’s Lexi receive hydration therapy on the go— she can fight her cancer surrounded by family and friends.
While tethered to an IV for hydration, patients could visit the activity room or head downstairs for a snack in the cafeteria. But their activities could only extend as far as the hospital walls. “This was a huge challenge, especially for teens,” says Annette Werger, RN, MSN, PNP, a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner at Dana-Farber. “They weren’t able to just go home and pick up where they were when they began treatment. It seemed to take patients at least six months to catch up on the social encounters they missed due to their treatment and hospital admissions.”
With quality of life always a priority, the oncology team at Children’s and Dana-Farber developed a mobile hydration system…
To learn more about Lexi and the home hydration program, click here.
For many kids, a leukemia diagnosis could lead to depression. But 9-year-old Matthew Mazzarella took his diagnosis in stride. In fact, the young boy from Lynnfield has such a bright outlook on life that he barely even frowned during his 3 month stay at Children’s.
“Matthew never complained his entire time in the hospital and tried to have as much fun as possible. The nurses used to fight over who got to take care of him,” his mother says. “It really helped that he always had fun things to do. Great art supplies in the playroom, the nurses were fun and every kid gets a laptop in their room!”
Learn more about Matt by clicking here.
These stories are inspirational and a testament to the power of the human spirit, but there are so many more we’d like to share. In order for us to raise more awareness about childhood cancer and its treatment we need your help. Do you know a cancer survivor who deserves recognition? What about a mom, dad, or health care provider who has stood up to cancer in their own way? If so we want to hear about it. Please contact us.