Perhaps the most devastating words a parent can hear are “your child has cancer.” The St. Baldrick’s Foundation estimates that every three minutes, a parent somewhere in the world receives this agonizing news.
Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children past infancy in the United States. Yet only four percent of federal funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers. And in the past 20 years, only three new drugs specifically developed to treat kids with cancer have received FDA approval.
For Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we asked the HuffPost Parents Facebook community if any of their families have been touched by the disease. In response, the parents of dozens of brave cancer fighters shared their children’s photos and stories ― and explained why all kids affected by pediatric cancer deserve #MoreThan4.
“Although these pictures do not represent the whole story, they give a powerful glimpse,” said Maggie Nokes, a 26-year-old childhood cancer survivor and Assistant Director at Expect Miracles Foundation. “These photos represent a need for change, a need for funding, and a need for awareness. Childhood cancer research definitely needs funding because that’s where we develop the cures.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Nokes issued the following call to anyone who will listen: “I ask you to please take action now, and before September and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month ends, make a donation to fund childhood cancer research or fund a childhood cancer patient care program near you.”
Keep scrolling to bear witness to 87 cancer fighters and their stories, as told by their parents.
"My beautiful baby boy was diagnosed at 10 months old with a malignant extrarenal rhabdoid tumor and died on May 12, 2016 at 13 months. MRTs are one of the most aggressive pediatric cancers out there and have one of the poorest prognoses. Sadly, there are very few medications to treat MRTs; those that are approved are adult drugs that are simply scaled down for pediatric dosing.
MRTs are poorly understood in part because they are relatively rare, but also because there is so little funding for research into pediatric cancers. Cancer is the number one disease killer of our children... I would love to see the greatest nation on earth prioritize the health of its children. Parents should not have to bury their children; kids should not have to grow up without their siblings." -- Erin Stensler
Sarah Omari Idaeho
"Our daughter, Azariah, was dignosed with bilateral Wilms tumor on June 9, 2015 at 10 weeks old. She had 12 weekly rounds of chemo (VAD) and surgery on September 22, 2015, through which they where able to save most of her right kidney and one third of her left. She's been cancer free since November.
She suffered a bowel obstruction (an unfortunate side effect of her abdominal surgery) in January of this year when we she went septic. We almost lost her twice, once due to the sepsis and then again due to her temporary central line dislodging and fluids causing her to swell so much it was restricting her airway. Happy to say that today she is doing amazing and is full of wonder! She makes us laugh every single day!" -- Sarah Omari Idaeho
"My sweet little Sophia Teddi Lynn was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at 9 months old. She underwent three rounds of chemo, six days of radiation and 10 day of conditioning for a bone marrow transplant. She spent EVERY day of her eight-month fight living within the walls of a pediatric oncology unit. On October 27, 2014 at 14 months, she underwent transplant. We prayed everyday that this was her cure.
On December 17, 2014, she was transferred to the ICU for difficulty breathing and was incubated. She would literally fight for her life for about six weeks before winning her battle forever. Sophia beat the cancer that tried to kill her but in the process was unable to fight off CMV that attacked her lungs. On January 23, 2015 at 10:14 a.m., I rocked her into her forever sleep. She was just 17 months old. Our hearts will never be the same. Her siblings -- 11-year-old Mason, 10-year-old Kyle, and 8-year-old Zoey -- will miss growing up with the baby sister they all loved so much.
My husband and myself will spend the rest of our lives fighting for the lives of other children diagnosed with cancer and keeping our beautiful Sophia's memory alive, all while wishing we could watch her grow up. She will live in our hearts forever." -- Crystal Henshen
"I believe that this picture sums up what having a child with cancer is like. Our daughter was in the PICU for over four weeks. She had major complications right after her initial diagnosis of acute lymphocytic leukemia. She had about 14 or more surgeries back to back and she was in a weird state of unconscious consciousness.
This was the first time her dad had the chance to hold her in more than two weeks. And it was very necessary as she had soiled everything on her bed, and the nurse was so tiny she couldn't change it all without help. So I (the mom) helped her. And Dad didn't want to put her back down. We were still unsure of her fate at the time I took this picture. Luckily, that was two years ago, and she's doing a lot better. Cancer in a child is one of the most evil things that can happen to a family, because it's unprovoked. It doesn't discriminate." -- Jen Johnston
"My son Jack was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on April 8, 2012 at the age of 2. He endured 2.5 years of chemo like a champ. We definitely had our bumps in the road but he was more resilient than anyone I've ever seen. About eight months after he started treatment, I began to save his medicine bottles ... I guess I was curious what a month of bottles would look like ... then 6 months worth. Before I knew it I had saved almost two years of bottles.
I took this photo on the first day he was medication free!!! It's hard to think that this is only about HALF of what he really took! I hate that I had to give my child all these toxic chemicals ... but in the end it saved him so for that I'm thankful! It's a choice no parent should ever have to make -- give your child poison in an effort to save them or don't and watch them die. I now work for the hospital that saved my son and I share his story often. I know this is where I'm supposed to be, doing whatever I can to help others. I feel like it's the least I can do." -- Georgia Nichols
"My son Aiden was 11 months old when he was diagnosed with stage four high risk neuroblastoma. He had surgery to resect the tumor, six rounds of chemo, ten days of radiation, a stem cell transplant, and countless transfusions. He officially had 'no evidence of disease' and was going to be done with radiation soon. Instead after a platelet transfusion, he got a fast acting virus, and within two hours, he was unresponsive. I took him to immediate care where he was taken to the nearest hospital, where they told me he wouldn't make it. I got the hospital Aiden was treated at normally to send a helicopter and once there, he started responding a little.
Then we discovered he had an internal bleed and since his platelets were so low he couldn't clot, and they couldn't do surgery. He died in my arms after a cardiac arrest early the next morning. Aiden was 17 months old when the treatments for his cancer led to his death. I formed a nonprofit in his memory to raise awareness for pediatric cancer and give comfort bags to children under 2 with cancer. We also collect toys, books and PJs for children hospitals." -- Erica Lynne
Dana Sires Ochoa
"My baby girl, Ayla, is a 3 year old who was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor at 12 months old. She has endured 59 weeks of chemotherapy, countless blood transfusions and infections due to complications of treatment. Her tumor has caused her vision loss in her right eye, and she continues to live with many long term side effects and delays due to the harsh chemo drugs she has been on.
Because her tumor is inoperable, the only treatment options are chemo and radiation at this time. Thankfully, her tumor has remained stable since ending her 59 week protocol of chemo, so her doctors have decided to watch her tumor closely while off treatment. With growth, chemotherapy and radiation will resume." -- Dana Sires Ochoa
"Gracie was diagnosed with retinoblastoma cancer on May 16, 2016. Her eye was removed June 1, 2016. She is doing chemo as well and yet she still smiles every day. She is a fighter!!" -- Elly Smith
"My son William has been battling Leukemia for the past year, diagnosed on August 6, 2015 with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Chemo did not work for him so he needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant which he received on April 1, 2016. He received bone marrow from his amazing and brave brother, Edward, who is only 4 years old. We are so proud of our boys.
Our lives have been turned completely upside down, and my spouse and I have missed over a year of work. But our boys are doing well, and that is all that matters. Please donate blood and get on the bone marrow donation registry." -- Meri-Li Forrest
Michelle Mutschler Anderson
"My daughter Monroe was diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia MLL-R at just 9 weeks old on June 3, 2014. She had over a year of high dose chemo and was finally in maintenance (lower dose chemo) in August 2015. Unfortunately she relapsed January 1, 2016 and began her fight all over again! With the lack of funding, our babies are given chemotherapy that leaves them with no immune system to fight infections that we all naturally have in our systems.
My baby girl passed away January 31, 2016 because she had no immune system to fight the bacterial infections and fungal infections she contracted while trying to battle leukemia. She will forever be 22 months old and leaves behind a loving momma, dadda and big brother! Our family will never be whole again because she will forever be missing!" -- Michelle Mutschler Anderson
Jason Natasha Maghoney
"This is one of my favorite photos -- so beautiful, yet so sad. She was too little to know most kids don't play dress up with hospital supplies or just look out of windows instead of playing outside. This was NORMAL life for her. Diagnosed with stage IV Neuroblastoma, Jillian had a body riddled with cancer yet she survived. Yes, she is one of the lucky ones, we are blessed. Yet each day still holds the unknown for her, and she suffers the effects of treatment to rid her body of cancer.
Beating cancer is not the end of the journey for our children -- it is only one chapter. Would I trade it for the alternative? No. Am I ungrateful? Absolutely not ... life is precious and my only wish is that she could have a NORMAL, healthy, peaceful life. They are worth more than four." -- Jason Natasha Maghoney
Jessica Leigh Anne
"This is my daughter Jaecee. She was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma on her third birthday last year. After an intense PICU stay, and four months of in hospital treatments, she is CANCER FREE and going STRONG! Tomorrow is her 'Cancerversary.'" -- Jessica Leigh Anne
"My son Tommy was diagnosed July 28, 2016 with a large stage three Wilms tumor. He had surgery on August 1 to remove the tumor and his left kidney. It was approximately the size of a football. He has had six radiation treatments and to date has had three chemotherapy treatments and will be done with chemo by February by the time he turns 5! He's such a strong and energetic little boy and I know he can overcome this and anything else in his path ... including preschool starting soon." -- Chelsea Lawson
Lindsey Selph Evans
"On December 14, 2015, my perfect little world changed in an instant. I was told at 8:52 a.m. that my precious toddler, just 2 years old, had brain cancer, medulloblastoma. He spent 109 nights in the hospital from January until July. Stan had three rounds of three day chemo, a successful stem cell harvest, three two-day treatments of high dose chemo and three stem cell transplants.
Stan is an amazing fighter and prayers were answered when I heard the words 'no evidence of disease' after his first MRI after treatment. Stan has a long road ahead, and I pray each day for his future, and for there to be a cure for childhood cancer." -- Lindsey Selph Evans
"This is Keano Clark at age 11. He had non-Hodgkin lymphoma, specifically diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. He received nine spinal taps, two blood transfusions and a total of 39 days of chemotherapy. He always has a smile on his face regardless of his pain." -- Kathy Wilson
"This is my 8-year-old son Bastian on the day that he was diagnosed with two different types of cancer found in a tumor within his spinal cord pressing against his brain stem, glioblastoma multiforme and anaplastic pilocytic astrocytoma. What stands out the most to me about our journey and others that I've witnessed so far is the resilience of these kids facing the biggest fight of their lives.
Even though we had just received devastating news, he was smiling because it was the first time he sat up on his own since the day he was acutely paralyzed from the neck down. In that moment, he knew he was well on his way to riding his scooter again and being 'the fastest kid in the neighborhood.' I'm not sure what the future has in store for my incredible son, but there will always be hope, and we will never, ever give up." -- Kimberlee Rhodes
"My son Keane was 16 months old when he was diagnosed with stage three high risk neuroblastoma. He has had six cycles of high dose chemo and surgery to resect the tumor. He'll be going in for tandem stem cell transplants in September, then radiation and immunotherapy. He has already gone through so much more than some of us will go through in our lifetime. His mommy, daddy, brother and sister are so proud of him and love him so much." -- Dawn Sullivan
Natalie Schoppe Adkison
"Our daughter, Camryn, was diagnosed with B-cell ALL on April 12, 2016. It took a long hard month of fighting (among many hospital stays) to get her into remission. She has gone through three out of the six phases of her treatment protocol and has been doing pretty well throughout all of it. Regardless, this disease has changed the way my husband, our 5-year-old son, Camryn and myself live and continue to live. It's a parent's worst nightmare. They deserve more than four percent." -- Natalie Schoppe Adkison
"This is Katie-Anne. She turned 3 years old on April 23, 2016. She was diagnosed with stage IV high risk neuroblastoma on September 1, 2015. Tomorrow it will be a year that we've been fighting cancer." -- Elisabeth Bernau
"My beautiful daughter Cici was diagnosed with anaplastic (stage IV) ependymoma, a CNS cancer, at age 3 and a half. After 14 hours of brain surgery to remove her tumor, she was remarkably discharged from the hospital only three days later, over a week sooner than the doctors' estimates. She endured six weeks of radiation to her brain, and several hospitalizations, but was then declared cancer free in November of 2006, just after her fourth birthday.
We enjoyed six years of cancer free life before her cancer recurred in her spine at the beginning of her 4th grade year, at age 9. This tumor was determined to be inoperable, too high risk for paralysis. She underwent 2.5 months of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation to her spine, and 4.5 months of maintenance chemotherapy. Although she will never be considered 'cancer free' again, due to the tumor tissue remaining on her spine, she has now been off treatment for over three years and remains stable.
She does have seizures as a result of everything her brain has gone through, but is doing well now. She is an honor roll student and a talented writer and artist with a huge heart for animals. When Cici was initially diagnosed, there was less than a three percent chance of survival, and chemo was not considered effective on ependymoma. If not for research done since, there would have been no treatment options available upon her recurrence. This is why our children deserve and NEED more than four." -- Kaitiy Collins
"My son Gavin, now 3, was diagnosed with a low grade glioma on his optic nerves when he was 7 months old. The tumor also pushed up against his pituitary gland, so he also had low sodium issues. After a year and a half of chemo, his tumor shrank and remains stable now for 17 months, since the end of chemo. I post this picture because it is pure joy, and reminds me how far we have come from 2014. I pray every day for God's healing hand to keep Gavin safe. I know he is with all children and families touched by this evil disease." -- Alix Lopez
"Charlotte was diagnosed at 15 months with hepatoblastoma, liver cancer. She relapsed after one year and she is fighting it again. She has permanent hearing loss due to cisplatin chemo. She lights up every room with her smile, and we are trying to make every day count to the fullest because none of us know what our future holds." -- Cari Cambridge
"My son Mason was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia a month after he turned 2. He has gone through three years of treatment and will have his last dose of chemo December 26, 2016. He is the strongest person I have ever met and my hero. I will advocate for these children until the government and big pharma realizes they are worth more than four." -- Nikki Kleman
"My only child Abel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 3 years on April 8, 2015. He had a rough start due to pneumonia and hepatitis. He stopped walking for two months due to the harsh treatments he received and is still receiving. By God's grace he is in remission and is receiving chemotherapy until July 2018." -- Jasmin Sandoval
"This beautiful 12-year-old was just diagnosed with stage four non Hodgkin B-lymphoblastic lymphoma on August 1, 2016. She is my warrior. Today was her last treatment of her first round of chemo. She has a two year road map. If anyone's children has ever been diagnosed with this... please contact me. I have questions." -- Phaedra Grate
Nicole Stein Buffington
"My son Sean was diagnosed three months ago, at the age of 19, with localized Ewing's sarcoma in his pelvis. He was in his first year of college and started complaining of intermittent back pain. For six months, we thought he hurt his back at work. The pain became constant, and he was sent for an MRI. He has undergone six rounds (of 14) of chemotherapy and will soon start 31 days of radiation." -- Nicole Stein Buffington
Courtney Holland Tipping
"My daughter Zoe was diagnosed with a stage four Wilms' tumor in 2014 that had spread to the kidney, lungs, and around her heart. She underwent many scans, blood work, blood transfusions, MRIs, CT scans, chemo, biopsies, radiation, kidney removal, tumor surgery, and much more at the very young age of 3. Currently all is stable and she is scanned every three months." -- Courtney Holland Tipping
"My daughter Gemma was diagnosed at age 2 with a inoperable low grade tumor on her brainstem. The biopsy surgery that was necessary to find the grade of her tumor left her with major left side weakness of her whole body. She has not walked since the operation. However, after two years of treatment, we found a drug (Avastin) that shrunk her tumor in half and now, six months later, she remains stable!!!
One day at a time, we will continue to fight, and we thank God for every day, every milestone and every blessing we get with our beautiful daughter. This journey is not one I wish on anyone, but it has given me a completely different perspective on life. These kids are the bravest people I have ever met and they don't even know it. They just try to find the good in each day and they try and laugh as much as they can. They deserve so much more than four percent." -- Teal Thron-Guion
Deana Aulisio Cavan
"Our baby boy Everett was diagnosed at 6 months with a malignant rhabdoid tumor of the liver. Even though it is one of the most aggressive cancers out there, we had great hope after a successful resection. Soon after, however, they found lesions in his lungs and both Boston Children's and St. Jude's both told us it was impossible to save him.
We took him home where he died peacefully on February 22, 2015 in our arms after all his family got to say goodbye. There was an amazing sunset the moment he left his body. Many people took pictures and were posting them before they even knew Rett had passed. He was loved by many and he continues to change lives. The greatest gift he has sent us is his angelic baby sister, Everly, who was born this past March. She has brought so much joy back into our lives." -- Deana Aulisio Cavan
"Caitlin (left), me (center) and Jack (on my lap). I'm the only one still here. This was taken a little over 17 years ago, and we were all treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I could write you a book because a few sentences just wouldn't suffice." -- Melissa McDonell
"This is my daughter Kallie. After being extremely healthy for six and a half years except digestion issues that we saw several doctors for, we found a 15 centimeter tumor in her pelvis. Stage IV neuroblastoma. She missed a year and a half of being a kid as we spent 90 percent of the time in the hospital. When we weren't, her immune system was too compromised to do anything.
She's had six rounds of high dose chemo, a nine hour surgery to remove her tumor, a stem cell transplant that resulted in a life threatening reaction called VOD, 12 rounds of radiation, a five hour surgery to remove adhesions from her first surgery, five rounds of antibody therapy, countless blood transfusions, 18 ng tubes, many many medications and several smaller surgeries. Although we are thankful for the therapy that has kept her here, it has caused some hearing loss and she will never have babies of her own. Even if she's determined to be in remission the relapse rate is about 50 percent." -- Jennifer Kramp
"Our daughter Avery Jane was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma at her 2-year well visit with the pediatrician. Since January of 2015, she has had four surgeries & 15 rounds of chemo. We've learned that the chemo available for her isn't working, but she is still fighting. We are hopeful for a cure. Until then, we make the most of each day and have fun!" -- Cathy Braden
Samantha Foisner King
"Kaylee was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 18 months old. She had a very rough start with treatment due to some infections, and was hospitalized for 95 days. Since then, she has tolerated most of her treatment very well. In May, she went through radiation treatments because she had leukemia in her central nervous system when she was diagnosed. Radiation was very scary, and it took her body a while to recover.
Now, she is in a phase of treatment (maintenance) where she can finally go out in public again (cautiously, and with lots of clorox wipes and sanitizer!). Throughout everything, she has been so strong and brave. She makes us laugh all the time, and she makes us so proud. Kaylee will complete treatment next September, 2 days after she turns 4!" -- Samantha Foisner King
"My son Dylan was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia two weeks after his second birthday on April 27, 2016. As a parent, nothing can prepare you for such a thing, yet nothing will make you fight harder. Dylan receives weekly chemotherapy through his port line. He will be receiving treatment for 3.5 years. The magnitude of having a child with cancer can't be comprehended until you are living this nightmare. These kids are strong, resilient, and given way too much to deal with at such a young age." -- Kimberly Keil
Trista Tisdel Ray
"This is my daughter Olive at the hospital the day she had a port placed in her chest so she could start chemo treatments for her brain tumor. She wasn't even 2 years old yet. There is no other monster like pediatric cancer, but she is fierce." -- Trista Tisdel Ray
"Meet Jude. If I were telling his story three or more years ago, he wouldn't be alive, but thanks to new developments in immunotherapy he is still thriving and fighting after three relapses of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Jude has touched thousands of lives across the country, as he has been treated at four different children's hospitals (Tucson, Minnesota, Seattle and Philadelphia) and participated in two different cutting-edge immunotherapy clinical trials.
Originally diagnosed at 18 months old, he is now 4. We are hoping to get him into remission for a fourth time so he can pursue a second bone marrow transplant and hopefully mark the start of a cancer-free life. This picture was taken a few hours after one of Jude's hospital appointments -- despite undergoing more pokes, procedures and medicine than most adults, he is the happiest kid going, and reminds me to always choose joy, no matter how difficult our circumstances are." -- Barbara Anderson
Cristen Redeker Singer
"This is Gavin. He was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms tumors at age 7 months. He underwent two major surgeries, seven months of chemo and two weeks of radiation. Despite being on chemo, his tumors grew to the size of softball and soccer balls. He lost 1 and two-thirds kidneys. He is now over a year and a half since completing his treatment and doing well, though he will likely need a kidney transplant in the future.
He's rambunctious, silly, loves playing with his big brother and most of all going fishing. 'I catched a shishy!' Gavin turns 3 in September. For his birthday and to honor Childhood Cancer Awareness month, his preschool is collecting items to help children currently in treatment. FIGHT ON!" -- Cristen Redeker Singer
Shannon Strock Smith
"Our joyful fighter. She has been in treatment for ALL for two years now. There have been some very hard times, like when she had neurotoxic encephalopathy due to her intrathecal chemo methotrexate and lost her speech and use of her right arm for two weeks. But she continues to rise above and a glowing smile is never far away.
She faces several more orthopedic surgeries due to the Prednisone destroying her shoulder and hip joints but one of her favorite songs is "Titanium" and she says soon she will be able to say she is literally tough as titanium. She has kept us going through all of it. Her faith and strength encourages everyone who knows her." -- Shannon Strock Smith
"This is my son Jackson. He was diagnosed at age 3 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After 3.5 years of chemo, he just finished in June 2016. He has been through 3.5 years of hell, but today he is a very happy 6.5-year-old. He is one of the lucky ones." -- Deborah
Jennifer Kelly McCord
"Our son Kellen was diagnosed at age 4 with high risk neuroblastoma and given a 40 percent chance of survival at 5 years from diagnosis. We've been told twice that he won't make it through the night after complications from treatments and he's pulled through. He's been put into hospice once and also pulled through. He's in his fifth year of treatment and we've been blessed with more time with our son." -- Jennifer Kelly McCord
Zen Is-so Sumi
"My daughter, Maya, is 5 years old and was diagnosed with high risk, pre-B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia on April 12, 2016. At the time of her diagnosis she was suffering with an intussusception, tumor lysis, streptococcus pneumonia and excruciating pain. Her bone marrow aspirate showed that 97 percent of her bone marrow was filled with leukemic cells. They also found leukemic blast in her central nervous system. She was admitted for three weeks, and in her second week of admission she suffered a spontaneous, tension pneumothorax (her lung collapsed). She underwent several surgeries and lost her ability to walk.
Despite the foregoing, she reached remission on May 16, 2016, and regained her mobility. She continues treatment now, and it has been bumpy. She is in her third phase of treatment, and has had a clonic tonic seizure (grand mal seizure) in response to high-dose chemotherapy. She has one more phase of frontline treatment before starting two years of long-term maintenance. I am grateful beyond words that she is fighting this successfully, so far, and I pray this continues. The other night in the hospital, my daughter asked me, 'Mama, do you really think I'm a superhero? I'm afraid of the dark, so I don't think I am a superhero.' From what I have seen, children who battle cancer are, in fact, superheroes. They are forged in fire, hence the gold ribbon for childhood cancer awareness." -- Zen Is-so Sumi
"My daughter Katharine was diagnosed with infant ALL leukemia at the age of one month in May 1986. At the time she was the youngest child the doctors could find record of anywhere being diagnosed. They told us that infants had less than 20 percent chance of survival, and the younger they were, the less their chances were. I was sure she wouldn't survive. Somehow, though, after three LONG years of intense chemotherapy, she did! She is a true miracle!
But survival has come with many difficulties. She has moderate to severe cognitive disabilities, she continued with immune deficiency issues for several years after treatment (having to receive IV gamma globulin treatments monthly), has hepatitis C from blood transfusions, and suffers from multiple neurological disorders, including seizures since she was 2 months old, a manic disorder, and a movement disorder. It's not the life I dreamed of for her nor the one I would have chosen, but she is the happiest soul you could ever meet and we are delighted to have her in our lives!" -- Donna Manthey
Emily Egan Gordon
"Since March of this year my daughter has been a warrior in the fight. At age 9 she was diagnosed with Wilms stage 3 and has endured radiation and chemotherapy -- she will be done with chemo on September 8 and enter the wait for scans and follow ups. Like most families, we didn't have any idea that the day we walked in to the urgent care we would walk out forever changed.
She is an advocate for awareness and has a strong following from all over the country and even globally. Vara James is now inspired to be a surgeon and help others. We'd love to share her story and ours if it would help spread awareness and create action!" -- Emily Egan Gordon
"My son, Caleb Leslie, was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in May of 2013 at the age of 10. When he was diagnosed, we were handed a protocol, the standard treatment, that was being used across the country to treat Ewing's. That combination of chemo and radiation took him 15 months to complete. Sadly, a short three months later, we found tumors in his lungs.
We spent the next eight months making desperate attempts to join trials, encountering frustrating amounts of red tape, and ultimately finding that no one had a solution. Precious little research was being done to find new chemos to try due to a shocking lack of funding. He passed away two and a half weeks after his 13th birthday with so many tumors in his lungs he could no longer breathe. This is the reality of pediatric cancer. My son fought in humor, bravery, and love and was ready to keep fighting, but we could offer him no weapons to take into battle. Caleb deserved so much more than four." -- Beth Leslie
"My son Samuel was 11 when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme stage four brain cancer. He lived only six months past his surgery date and died at age 12 on December 8, 2015. Brain cancer is one of the most difficult and deadliest cancer to treat, with so many of these tumors having their own blood supply. There was no pediatric chemo medication for my son to try. Everything had been tried on adults only. He had surgery, radiation to the brain (where his head was immobilized and held in place by a mask that snapped onto the table) and had multiple chemos. He wanted to live. His tumor was resistant to everything. In fact it grew around the radiation field.
I cannot describe what it feels like to be told 'There is nothing more we can do but offer hospice to your son.' You feel like you are drowning. You feel like you are in a nightmare you can't wake up from, only this is your reality. The tumor grew and slowly took away all his ability to function: talking, walking, swallowing and eating. No child should have to endure what mine did. Cancer never took his spirit or the fact he will always be my son and we will always love him.
Our children are our priority and deserve more than the 4 percent currently allocated by our government in funding. Parents should not have to bury their children! My son deserved to be a kid and grow up. Samuel's older sister & brother should have their little brother to go through life with. September is childhood cancer awareness month. The world seems to know what the pink awareness ribbon means. It's long past time that the gold ribbon be as just as identifiable! Our children are gold! They are our future! Don't just be sorry, be active!" -- Michelle Harris
"My son was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 11 months old. During his first round of chemo he got a systemic fungal infection that almost killed him. This photo was taken shortly after that, during his seven-week stay in the pediatric ICU. A very compassionate doctor told me 'I believe in a big God who can do big things... so I have to tell you I think it's possible that he'll survive, but I don't think it's probable.' Miraculously, against probability, he did survive and today he's a happy, healthy 7-year-old boy." -- Vanessa Hart
"This is my daughter Jennifer. Forever 6. This photo shoot of us playing in glitter was mid treatment for dream come true for us.
I had no idea some childhood cancers were terminal upon diagnosis, that I could possibly ever be jealous of bald kids who had a chance to fight (my most shameful but honest thoughts).
I also had no idea the power of glitter. But she did.. my glittery girl... she always knew. Because that stuff sticks with you and multiplies." -- Libby Kranz
"My daughter, Charlotte was diagnosed with bilateral retinablostma in February of 2016. She was only 19 months at the time. Her right eye was unable to be saved so they enucleated it a week after we found out. She is now going through a second kind of chemotherapy because the first six months of systemic didn't work. She is receiving intra arterial chemotherapy for another three-four months trying to save her left eye." -- Heather White
April Skains Blackburn
"My daughter Alaina was diagnosed at 21 months old, with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She's been fighting for one full year now, with a little more than a year to go. She doesn't cry at needle sticks because she's used to them. At 2, she knows the words 'sanitized,' 'chemo,' 'leukemia,' and 'neutropenic.' She calls having IV tubes in her port a 'tail' and knows to not cut, step on, or run away from her tail.
She had nine months of intense chemo, and is now on maintenance levels to keep her in remission. All our lives have been irrevocably changed by this disease. And doctors have no idea what causes it, because there isn't enough funding. Despite it being the most common childhood cancer, we don't have new drugs for it or research on how to prevent it. She is still fighting strong though; sharing her infectious joy with everyone she meets." -- April Skains Blackburn
"Aliyah recently had lung surgery to remove a malignancy this month ... but she is strong and still fighting bravely!" -- Sonsiray Treadwell
"No family is ever prepared for what a pediatric cancer diagnoses does to their family. Here is the condensed version of my story. Pediatric cancer first appeared to my family as a medulloblastoma diagnosis that was given to my son, ten days before his third birthday. That diagnoses would take me, his twin brother and his older brother on a six-year roller coaster ride. Upon his diagnosis we were immediately admitted into the hospital where he underwent a long, tedious surgery to remove the mass at the base of his brain.
After surgery we embarked on a journey that included two months of daily radiation followed by a year of inpatient chemotherapy. During this time, his twin brother attended every, single, doctors appointment and treatment and was shuffled around amongst friends for every single hospital admission. Myles ended his therapies and treatments just in time to start kindergarten. The next four years would be tainted with discoveries of what the radiation and chemotherapy robbed his small fragile body of. His baby teeth were ruined, his hearing was damaged to the point had to wear hearing aids, his hearing loss affected his speech and communication, the radiation to his spine effected how his spine grew, the radiation to his brain killed off healthy brain cells and left him learning disabled. All of that we could live with.
On his five year scan another mass was found on his brain stem and he was diagnosed with a fatal pontine glioma. This new cancer undoubtedly was a side effect of the radiation. After all the sacrifice and fight, we lost my son, who was also a brother and a friend, at the young age of 9. Everyone who loses a child suffers unimaginable pain, but I must tell you to have a twin for 9 years and then be a only child is a dynamic that can crumble any home. Where there was once constant life, joy and banter there is now a deafening silence. For every birthday that is celebrated for his remaining twin brother there is an immense hole of sorrow and grief for the loss of a part of the family. Everything that is celebrated is also painful ... starting a new school year, the first dance, first date, moving up ceremonies ... every ... single thing.
I am filled with joy for Marcelle and deeply wounded that Myles' life was cut short. It is my own personal bi-polar hell. We have made the conscious decision to celebrate Myles' life and his beautiful spirit of giving by starting a foundation in his namesake to pay forward the generosity that we received over the years to other families. Myles has taught us to celebrate life and every moment we are given. His spirit lives on in a way that I can see every day in his twin brother. We have the deepest appreciation of the simplest of life's gifts. His twin brother didn't die, so I am hopeful that this tragedy will propel Marcelle on a path where he will make a difference in this world because of all he has seen and experienced at a very young age. Next June will be five years since we heard Myles' giggle and seen his great smile. Both are etched in my brain and if I close my eyes I can still see and hear him ... this memory is the one that is on top, it is the memory that blankets all the hard times. When you see an orange sunrise or sunset, or orange flower, smile and whisper his name, for that is Myles." -- Laurel McAdoo
"My son Hunter was diagnosed with HLH (hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis) when he was 2.5 years old. He spent three weeks on life support (while receiving chemo, and dozens of other drugs, and procedures) where we were told he had no chance to survive. After three weeks he became a miracle! We spent a total of 100 days at the London sick kids hospital which is 18 hours away from home. With HLH we have no idea if it will come back, but every time his immune system turns on it has a chance to activate again. This past July we celebrated two years HLH/chemo free!" -- Jessica Page
"My son Wesley was diagnosed with ALL at 23 months old. He battled with cancer for 3.5 years. He won his battle against ALL but still struggles with side effects of neuropathy, ADHD, and a compromised immune system. He is a fighter and just recently learned to read. He is just now 6 years old. He has taken chemotherapy for over half his life." -- Michelle Harless
Manuel N Anna Garza
"Our courageous son was 7 years old when diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Our son went through Hell trying to stay alive. He went through chemotherapy, leg amputation, had surgery to remove one rib and part of lung. He recovered from that surgery getting ready to leave hospital and the surgeon walked in and told us he took the wrong rib. Our son was 10 years old when he passed away in my arms at home. NO CHILD SHOULD SUFFER LIKE OUR EMGEE DID. I just gave you a few examples of what our son went through." -- Manuel N Anna Garza
"Our sweet daughter Savannah was born on August 26, 2015 at 36 weeks and four days. She was 5 pounds, 9 ounces. Savannah was briskly taken to NICU where she was on CPAP to help her breathe. After a day she came of the CPAP but was struggling to gain weight. Her weight dropped to 4 pounds 13 ounces. After a week of having a feeding tube she finally started to eat and gain weight. We thought she was coming home!
Then nurses noticed lumps under her skin. More days in the NICU and many lab tests revealed no answers so she was transfered to AI Dupont Hospital for Children where she was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma. In the months following diagnoses, Savannah endured 13 long rounds of chemo. This resulted in a central line placement which eventually became a port. She also had surgery, and countless hospital stays. Not once during her journey did she give up. She is the bravest girl I know and always has a smile on her face. On July 8, 2016, after fighting metastatic stage four cancer, our beautiful girl was cancer free. She celebrated her first birthday with no lines, no port, at home with her family and friends." -- Kirstyn Marie
"My daughter Hannah was diagnosed with a very rare soft tissue sarcoma on her right knee in 2013. She went through a major surgery on her knee and missed weeks of school and her soccer season that spring. In December 2014 they found a recurrence in her lung -- she underwent surgery again plus 10 months of intensive chemotherapy during most of 2015. She is currently cancer-free and a happy, healthy eighth grader, but she will undergo regular scans to watch for more recurrences for many years to come." -- Deb Steenhagen
"Last October on his second birthday, my son Ryan was diagnosed with Burkitt leukemia. He had very aggressive treatments which lasted six months -- four of which were spent in the hospital, including four days in the PICU. I am very grateful to be able to say that since completing treatment this past April, Ryan has been doing well!" -- Sonya Lyons
"Luke was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma. One eye removed and six months of chemotherapy later, he's now 7 years old and in first grade!" -- Kelly Lynn
"In this picture, my son was in the interim maintenance phase of his treatment. He would have a three to possibly six-day stay (depending on how his body would clear the high doses of chemo.) He is fighting T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, his treatment plan lasts for three and a half years. This leukemia likes to hide in boys, so he received radiation to his brain for a precautionary measure.
In this picture, Noah was surprised when his friends showed up to see him at the hospital. This is a lonely road that we travel, and Noah wishes that his friends understood what he is going through but they do not. Unless you have experienced this, you have no clue. His symptoms before we were diagnosed consisted of a large lymph node in his neck and his legs looked as though they had a rash but it was petechiae which was blood pooled under the skin due to low platelets. He was a little tired and his face had a sheen to it.
We are in the maintenance phase where He takes oral chemo every day and once a month treatments in the hospital. He has two years left of his treatment. Our kids are strong, going through all of this and can keep on smiling. Thank you for sharing our story." -- Misty Thiel
Regina Failla- Hunter
"This is Jackson. Jack was diagnosed with very high risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia on August 4, 2014 when he was just 5 years old. The first 10 months of treatment, he endured very strong chemo and spent over 100 days in the hospital and missed all of kindergarten. We are in the maintenance phase of treatment now. Until November of 2018, Jack will take oral chemo daily, steroids one week a month, chemo through the port in his chest and he will get multiple chemo injections into his spine. Amazingly cancer has not brought him down. He is silly, smart, and strong." -- Regina Failla- Hunter
"My daughter Katelyn was diagnosed with stage four high risk neuroblastoma in January 2009. Months of chemo, surgery, transplant, weeks radiation, multiple medical trials, many scans, two years away from home, away from her dad and two brothers, traveling to multiple cities across the country in search for a cure. Cancer is the number one disease killer of our children. RAISE AWARENESS, FIND A CURE, DEMAND MORE FUNDING!" -- Jaime Roker
Kerrin E Dooley
"Brooklyn Jane was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 3 and a half years old on January 22 2014. Now 6 years old, one year off treatment." -- Kerrin E. Dooley
Sarah Tarrillion Keller
"My daughter Sadie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia B-cell on February, 25, 2015 when she was 7 year old. She has been in treatment for a year and a half receiving chemotherapy every week and now daily. She is in remission and has nine months left of treatment. When she is done, she will be 10 years old and will have missed out on years of school, playing with friends, soccer, and many other activities kids her age are doing.
Sadie has fought through several infections, illnesses, hospital stays, and all while fighting cancer. Since her diagnosis, she has used her voice to spread awareness against childhood cancer and can be seen through the many YouTube videos she has done from my closet and in the work she is doing with TheTruth365.
She also chooses to give back and take the focus off her own fight, by doing toy drive called Sadie's Sleigh for all the kids that are fighting cancer and will be in the hospital over Christmas. Her first year, last year, she raised over 1300 toys, and this year she has already started collecting and her goal is over 3000 toys and to support two local children's hospital oncology floors, instead of only her hospital. She is our hero and she is made for greatness!" -- Sarah Tarrillion Keller
Robyn Davis Johnson
"This is my son Jude. He's 2 years old, and on February 24 of this year, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He receives all his treatment through Primary Children's Hospital, whom we love. Right now he is in his sixth month of treatment out of a 3 and a half year treatment plan. He has had times where his bones are so weak he can't even walk, he gets fevers almost on a weekly basis so we spend a lot of time in the hospital.
Last month he lost so much weight, they had to give him a feeding tube because within two weeks he had lost close to five pounds. He gets sick all the time and has to spend a lot of time at home and away from people. He lost all of his beautiful red hair and has had diaper rashes caused by the chemo and antibiotics that have actually burned and blistered.
He is scheduled for a surgery to replace his port this week because a blood clot has formed at the end of it, inside his heart. This is only a small amount of the trials he's faced through this experience. There have been so many things that have happened to him in this short time that just break my heart to see him suffer so much. But he is such a happy little boy, there are times where you wouldn't even know he was sick. He thanks all his nurses and doctors for helping him! He smiles and tries to play even when he's at his lowest! Jude is our little fighter and our little hero! We love him very much!" -- Robyn Davis Johnson
Royale Johnson Walter
"Our daughter's battle with leukemia and extremely rare side effects from the treatments that saved her life have propelled us into a battle to bring childhood cancer to the forefront and receive adequate funding. We have formed Glitter in Gold and donated $15,000 in research to date. Mchalie's spunk and passion and will to live inspired thousands to follow her battle, and we have seen great changes in our community to turn gold in September and every month of the year." -- Royale Johnson Walter
"This is my son Addison Bridges. He was diagnosed Feb. 10, 2011 at the age of 2 with a rare brain tumor called a germ cell tumor. The tumor itself made his body show signs of puberty and that's when we knew something wasn't right but never imagined we would hear the words 'your child has cancer.' He was diagnosed at Brenner's Children's Hospital but further research led us to St. Jude. Our first day at St. Jude was Feb. 17, 2011.
While at St. Jude, Addison underwent five rounds of chemo followed by two brain surgeries and then a spinal surgery due to complications from the brain surgery. He then had his stem cells collected and harvested. He went through two rounds of intense high dose chemo that caused burns on his skin (he had to have a bath every four hours for four days to prevent severe burning of the skin ), mouth sores and sores all through his throat and stomach. This led to him being placed on morphine pump and TPN for feedings cause he was unable to swallow anything.
After the high dose chemo he received his stem cell transplant from his harvested cells. Finally after all that they decided he would also need six weeks 30 rounds of radiation and he had to be sedated everyday for this. Finally over a year later on March 2, 2012 he was released from St. Jude and declared cancer free. He still goes often for scans and for treatment for his growth due to his tumor putting him thru puberty but he has been in remission for 4 and a half years." -- Ashley Bridges
"Korbin was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on his fourth Birthday (October 5, 2015) at a routine check. We were in complete shock. Korbin is currently in remission, and still has 2.5 more years of chemotherapy treatment ahead of him. He is such a fighter and our little hero. We have learned so much as a family, and hold on tight to our faith.
Korbin loves spending the day playing with his little sister Kambrie, riding his bike, playing soccer, going to preschool, and exercising with mommy and daddy! Korbin thinks some of his best qualities are being a fast and smart super hero! Korbin wants to be a doctor when he grows up, to help others like the doctors have helped him feel better." -- Nery Leon
"Tate Reid was diagnosed with T-Cell ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) on August 31, 2015, at age 8. This past year has been the hardest, messiest, yet most incredible year of our lives. It's so hard to watch your child suffer through things that would make most adults quit. But, Tate never quit smiling. He never quit fighting. It brought our family together even closer and gave us life long relationships with so many new people because of his diagnosis. Thankfully, he is currently in remission with a little over two years of treatment left. We never want anyone else to have to walk this road. We pray for a cure soon!" -- Team Tate
Lori Lagalla Holmes
"Jake, diagnosed at 5 years old with stage three high risk neuroblastoma. Treatment was nothing short of 18 months of evil torture. Chemo, radiation, stem cell transplant, immunotherapy, surgeries and more blood and platelet transfusions than we could keep track off. He is my son, my hero my inspiration. He is currently cancer free and will turn 10 years old in September." -- Lori Lagalla Holmes
Dana Kavanagh Heino
"My daughter, Avery K. Heino, was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric brain cancer -- atypical teratoid rhabtoid tumor (AT/RT) -- in June 2014, just a few days before her second birthday. In 10 months, she went through 20 rounds of intense, high dose chemotherapy, 13 surgeries (eight of which were brain surgeries and also included a tracheostomy and a feeding tube), a stem cell transplant and countless procedures.
She remained inpatient (with me), separated from her dad and 4-year-old sister Ella, for almost the entire length of treatment. She passed away due to complications from her treatment on April 7, 2015. She was silly and brave and loving and happy. She adored her big sister, thought her daddy was the funniest guy ever and was never far from my arms. She is so deeply missed. Our goal is to raise awareness for pediatric cancer as it's extremely underfunded and unknown ... but not rare." -- Dana Kavanagh Heino
"Kelsey -- forever 13, strongest girl I know. My daughter Kelsey battled a rare and aggressive malignant brain tumor for 15 months. Cancer does not discriminate, it attacks any age, race, economic status but it could never take away Kelsey's amazing courage, grace, beauty and legacy. Kelsey founded Team Kelsey to help other children battling cancer ... to this day we raise brain tumor awareness and fundraise for the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton and brain tumor research." -- Lana Hill
Catherine Collins Benning
"My daughter and her warrior friend Kaiden who passed in February from rhabdomyosarcoma at the age of ten. My daughter Erin raised over $100,000 for Kaiden's family to ease the burdens of their journey and received so much more from this friendship with Kaiden. She was a true warrior and selfless young lady from diagnosis to getting her angel wings. This picture was taken when Kaiden escorted my daughter for homecoming." -- Catherine Collins Benning
"On March 28 this year we learned how it felt for the world to stop. My son Thomas was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor after only having headaches. He's finishing up round four of chemotherapy tomorrow, has done 31 radiation treatments, had a tumor resection surgery, and still has four more rounds of chemotherapy. Fight like Thomas. It still feels like this can't possibly be happening. It's scary and surreal at the same time." -- Amber Lewis
"My daughter Sophia was born on December 17, 14. She was diagnosed of an AT/RT brain tumor at 6 months old on July 10, 2015. She fought for ten long months before she passed in my arms at home on hospice on May 14, 2016. I kept a Facebook page to keep people updated but she quickly developed a following with over 15,000 likes." -- Lauren Hanna
Amy Lee Gagnon
"My son, Henry Aaron, was diagnosed with ALL, relapsed 14 months into treatment and underwent a bone marrow transplant thanks to a perfect match in one of his big sisters. He went from 90 percent prognosis to 30 percent prognosis when he relapsed and beat the 50 percent chance he would make it through the bone marrow transplant. Honestly, we had many ups and downs, lots of frustrating and stressful moments but Henry is alive and living amongst us as a perfectly normal 9-year-old boy.
We still anticipate complications such as needing help (meds) around puberty and his risk for eye complications, but I thank God every day he is here with us. There needs to be more funding for pediatric cancer research. These kids are using the same drug protocols from the 1960s. I'm running for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation to bring awareness to childhood cancer and help them fund research. Henry and I also speak to schools about his battle with leukemia when it is time for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Pennies for Patients." -- Amy Lee Gagnon
Gillian Howle Plasman
"Owen was diagnosed with metastatic osteosarcoma in 2013 when he was 8 years old. He relapsed one year later and then again nine months later. He has an expandable implant in his leg that replaced his femur and knee. This is lengthened every four to six weeks." -- Gillian Howle Plasman
"Carter is about to be 1 year old on September 14!! He was diagnosed on June 20 with extrarenal metastatic rhabdoid tumor, a very rare cancer with few chances of living. His second scans show remarkable improvement in his lungs as well as his belly. But the cancer spread in his brain to more places. We are still at the beginning of our journey and we remain hopeful! He is the light of our life! Everyone's life! Big brothers Everett and Mason love Carter to pieces too." -- Lyndsey Mandley
"My son Jessen was diagnosed with stage four high risk neuroblastoma a few months before his third birthday. He went through six rounds of chemotherapy, five surgeries, a stem cell transplant, radiation treatments, and antibody treatments. He finished his treatments and had his central line removed just before his fourth birthday. He is now two years post-treatment but continues to go for follow up scans and blood work every few months. There is a high relapse rate so he makes sure to live every day to the fullest!" -- Melanie Whelchel
"I am mother to three of the most awesome little boys on this planet. One of them is actually a superhero fighting cancer -- relapsed neuroblastoma. He is now 6 years old and has been fighting since age 2. Cancer isn't the only battle he has fought. Christian Angel came into this world on January 15, 2010. He was born a preemie twin at 27 weeks and had complications with his lungs which caused him to be hospitalized the first seven months of his life! He fought to live and overcame all odds against him!
Then at 2 years old after two trips to local ERs, a mass was discovered in his abdomen. He was diagnosed with high risk stage three neuroblastoma, a very aggressive cancer that almost took his life during frontline chemo treatment. He went through harsh treatment for a year and a half and was declared NED September 2013. He remained NED for almost 2 years and a relapsed was confirmed on August 2015 after routine scans noticed spots in his lungs. It's been a little over a year and we are still in this battle. It has since spread to his liver and we are still positive that he will beat this once again.
We are never giving up!! My son is a living miracle since he came into this world. With the support of his brothers and family and friends this journey has been a little better. We couldn't do it without their prayers and support. It's what keeps us going. It's a long journey and we won't stop until this monster is gone. You can follow my son's journey on Facebook 'Christian Angels Journey" and see him kick cancer's butt once again." -- Deborah Cipriano
Roanne Barnes Hautapu
"Cancer doesn’t end when our kids leave hospital. Cancer doesn’t end when bald heads sprout hair. Cancer doesn’t end when feeding tubes are removed. Cancer doesn’t end when our kids look 'well' again. My daughter Quinn was seven years old when she was diagnosed with a primitive neuroectodermal tumor in her brain. We are now celebrating three years in remission!" -- Roanne Barnes Hautapu
"My daughter, Brynlee Davis, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on August 26, 2013 at 2 and a half years old. The doctor told us this was the 'good' cancer and 80 percent of children survive with 95 percent of children going into remission after the first month of treatment and continuing treatment for two and a half to three years. Well my daughter didn't fall into that 95 percent percent and by month four we were running out of options.
Thankfully after five months, Brynlee went into remission, so she was then able to get a bone marrow transplant from her younger brother, Ryan, who ended up being a perfect match. We spent over 90 days in the hospital that year. Cancer has forever changed all of us but we are the blessed ones because my daughter is still here today, doing well and starting kindergarten this year." -- Melissa Davis
"This is my son Nathan now 6 years old. He was diagnosed with ALL pre-B-cell leukaemia just over two years ago. He's still undergoing treatment and should finish in April 2017. Hopefully in time for his seventh birthday. Nathan has accepted his illness very well and sees the good in everything that's happened to him. Nathan was born in Beijing, and when he was diagnosed we were living there.
But within 24 hours of diagnosis we had to move our then family of five to Hong Kong for the treatment. It was a difficult time, and Nathan dealt with it all very well. Just last weekend he was in the hospital with a fever/infection. His body is not able to fight off simple bacteria like a healthy child can. However, we're thankful, and so is he, that he is now on the road to recovery!" -- Cheong Bridget
"I am a 41 year old wife and mother of two wonderful children. Courtney, now 21 and David, 16 -- both doing extremely well today -- had cancer. David Jr. was the first to have it occur. It happened in 2008, and he was 7 years old. He developed a fever and a mass in his stomach and I took him to the doctor to later discover he had Wilms' tumor. The news hit our family like a train -- children get cancer?? My child gets cancer?? A period of six months of surgery to remove his right kidney, chemotherapy, numerous hospital visits, and we finally got news that he was in remission.
Thankfully, we were blessed that it was stage one, and he would recover. We received many prayers from our friends and family and our local churches which got us through that difficult time. However, after a child receives a cancer diagnosis there are still many follow ups and fears that the cancer could reoccur. The children’s hospital that David went to was about two hours away, so we spent a lot of time on the road.
Not even two full years later in 2010, our 15 year old daughter awoke to find a lump on her chest. We took her to our local doctor to find out it was a cyst and the doctor referred us to the same children’s hospital that our son went to. When we got to the appointment we quickly discovered that she had an aggressive chest wall sarcoma. Surgery would be needed to remove it and she would have to undergo and additional surgery to get wider margins. Thankfully, that is all she needed was two surgeries. The news of both of our children getting cancer was unbearable, however the fact that they were both in remission helped some. As a parent, you try to protect your children, and it's really hard when you can’t. You cannot control the things that happen to them, however I do believe it has made them stronger people. This is my story and I hope it helps just one person." -- Tracey Ashby
"This is Eli. He was diagnosed at the age of 3 months old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He spent seven straight months in Cincinnati Children's Hospital without leaving his room! He was considered NED (no evidence of disease) just a month after being diagnosed, but with this type of cancer you have to continue chemotherapy for two years.
At 10 months old we transferred him to Cardinal Glennon Children's in St. Louis to be closer to home. Our little hero has been off of chemo for six months now! He will be turning 3 in November. It was a long and tough battle, but to look at him today, you wouldn't think he had been through anything." -- Cheyenne Browning
"Our 3-and-a-half-year-old has been fighting for almost two years now, and the fight still isn't over. After 15 cycles of chemotherapy and four surgeries, there is still hope but only because of our little fighter." -- Benjamin Braden
"Just before Mother's Day in 1999 my 16 month old son was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma. He was treated aggressively with chemo, radiation and tandem stem cell transplants. He fought hard and won the battle against childhood cancer but not without late effects. Here we are 17 years later still in the fight, not with childhood cancer but with insurance.
A common late effect to treatment at a young age is missing and poor quality teeth. We've returned to the hospital that treated him for help with his teeth. Many of the same doctors are still there working to save lives. They are in agreement that the treatments that saved his life cost him his teeth. The cost to replace his teeth is close to $40,000 but insurance has refused to cover the cost. We also have the high cost of prescriptions. A one month supply of testosterone, something his body should be making on its own, cost us close to $900 for one month. He will need this for the rest of his life. Our survivors should not have to face such high costs because they fought back and won against cancer." -- Janet
Stephanie and Tom Skretkowski
"Meet our son Nicholas! He is now 7 years old and four and a half years cancer free! He was diagnosed in April 2011 (at 22 months old) with stage two Wilms tumor, underwent chemotherapy and then relapsed (stage three) in September 2011. He then went through more rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, blood transfusions and more until April 2012!
Throughout it all, he remained happy and enjoyed life as best as he could within the confines of the hospital and home. He was always riding a tricycle and playing hockey in the hospital halls. Now he's flourishing into a bright, young kid who keeps us on our toes. He's very active in hockey, among other sport activities, and is our hero!" -- Stephanie and Tom Skretkowski