Stories about: going to school with cancer

The many faces of childhood cancer: Fernando Morales

Fernando Morales is a student athlete. Last year he was sidelined from the life he knew after he was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. Now done with treatment Fernando is back with his teammates, sporting a positive outlook and a new appreciation for life. This is his story. 

Fernando

As a soccer player and member of the track and field team at my high school, running is a big part of my life. But one morning I started getting shooting pains in my knee. All of a sudden walking and running became very difficult. In the blink of an eye I lost a big part of my identity, which hurt almost as much as my leg. Almost.

I saw a doctor who put me on a physical therapy regimen and took X-rays of my knee. When that didn’t seem to help I underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to see what the problem was and why it wasn’t getting better. The MRI results said it all: a tumor was growing in my right pelvis.

Less than a week later my parents and I were driving to the Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC). There were so many questions floating around my head. Would I need surgery? Would I ever play sports again? Was I going to live? If you compared my sanity to a dam, the pressure in my head was building towards dangerous levels. The walls were starting to crack.

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Surviving cancer takes more than medicine

Recent estimates from the American Cancer Society (ACS) put the number of cancer survivors living in the U.S. right now at about 13.7 million, and in the next decade that number should hit 18 million.

Many of those survivors, especially young patients, will face unique issues after cancer treatment: dealing with emotional and physical side effects, legal rights concerning health care and employment, reproduction issues, getting appropriate follow-up care and readjusting to school and social lives. Because younger patients have such special needs, Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center (DF/CHCC) has many programs to help.

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NESN features oncology patient and smiley Sox fan

rj_back_to_schoo_2501Oncology patient R.J. Agostinelli was recently featured in an uplifting story and video on NESN.

You can also read a story he wrote about what it was like for him to return to school after his cancer treatment, and watch a video of his first day back at school.

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