While there is no way to fully prepare for a cancer diagnosis, for parents coping with childhood cancer it's important to pay attention to any warning signs and recognize symptoms.
The advice I would give to other people going through cancer at my age is to never give up. Find something that can symbolize your journey and push you to keep fighting.
Nobody expects to hear the words “Your child has cancer.” Nobody is prepared. And in our family’s case, our son Emmett was diagnosed with leukemia in an emergency room, and treatment began that day in the ICU. We had no time at all to prepare, or even to comprehend it all at the time.
My son, David, was 13 years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). My husband and I are both medical professionals, and cancer never entered our minds when David exhibited signs of fatigue, sore throat and listlessness.
As kids grow, their muscles, tendons and ligaments grow as well. So when they complain about aches and pains, it’s often due to the rapid pace of their developing bodies. But if the pain persists, or the pain is coupled with other ailments, it might be something more serious.
Children undergoing cancer treatments will experience many hurdles – from psychosocial issues and emotional distress to learning problems and health risks. Unfortunately, this age group is also prone to noticeable changes in their physical appearance.
One day in 1955, Dr. James Grace’s two-year-old son, Jimmy, spiked a fever of 105°. It was the first sign that the little boy had acute leukemia — a fast-moving disease that in those days had no hope of a cure. When his son died only a few months later, Dr. Grace converted his pain to passion.
At age seven, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. After my main surgery to remove the cancer, I had to go through weeks of chemotherapy and never stopped asking questions during the process.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and is also celebrated as Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month.