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Treating childhood cancer: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Kezia Fitzgerald is a new mother. She’s also a recent cancer survivor and mom to a daughter currently battling childhood cancer.

Saoirse and Kezia at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center

As the parent of a sick child, all you want is for your baby to get better. You focus all of your attention on healing and caring for her needs, and if possible you’d give all of your health to make her feel better. But what happens when the parent is battling just as hard as the child to get healthy?

In January of 2011 our family was hit with the hardest news we thought we could ever receive – I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin Lymphoma. Along with being afraid for my health, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to fully care for my child. I loved my new life as a stay at home mom, and I hated the though of not being able to give 100 percent of myself to my daughter Saoirse as a result of cancer. After weeks of tests and scans, I quickly weaned my 8-month-old baby off breast milk and began chemotherapy. Luckily for me, I had minimal side effects, and with the help of family and friends, Saoirse got all the love and attention that she could have ever wanted.

(check out CNN coverage of the Fitzgerald’s story by visiting their website.)

Pretty soon the word “normal” took on a new meaning in our lives. We got used to our routine of tests and doctor appointments and patiently waited for a time when it would all be done. Always a happy and playful child, Saoirse was becoming more and more independent, which made it easier for me, as I was losing more and more energy.

However, one day in April, our fun loving, happy baby changed completely.

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