“People would say ‘I feel bad for her’…I’m the same person I ever was, but better, stronger,” says 14-year-old Shannon Curley, reflecting on the time she spent in isolation treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve met so many amazing people and learned some important things.”
In December 2012, Shannon, a middle school basketball star and Billerica native, was diagnosed with acute bilineal leukemia. Due to the rarity and nature of her leukemia, doctors recommended an aggressive treatment plan. After three months of treatment, Shannon received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant and was put on a recovery plan that included a year in isolation to build up her immune system.
“After she got out of the hospital, Shannon had to go into a year of outpatient isolation treatment. Her immune system had been suppressed so her body would not reject the bone marrow, and that made her susceptible to infection,” explains Shannon’s mother, Carol Curley. “Although we were at Dana-Farber regularly, we’re lucky that she could go through isolation treatment at home and that she was able to make friends on the isolation floor during her visits to Dana-Farber.”
While in confinement Shannon kept a positive attitude and even offered support to other patients. …
by Marybeth Morris, Ed.M.
The advancement of medical science in diagnosing and treating certain pediatric cancers such as brain tumors or leukemia has led to increased survival rates for pediatric cancer patients. Due to neurocognitive deficits and physical sequelae, many child cancer survivors face significant challenges upon their return to school and throughout their academic career.
Schools often perceive that once a child’s treatment has ended, he or she will return to “baseline” and not necessarily require continued academic and emotional supports. Parents may also be uncertain about a few things. …
Having weathered chemotherapy like a champ, the vivacious 12-year-old writes about what it was like returning to his class after a long absence.
Also, watch a video of RJ’s first day back at school.