September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. You may ask yourself, “What does that mean to me?” Well last year, I would have asked myself the same question…until my daughter, Cadia, was diagnosed with B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 9 in August of 2016. Canc
CANCER – it’s such a scary word for both children and adults. In the U.S., 15,780 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year. When she had complained about knee and leg pain we thought it was growing pains and our doctor thought so as well. But when it had her crying every night and wouldn’t stop, we knew something was wrong and a blood test confirmed it. Other signs are bloody noses and lots of bruising, but she had none of that. We had to have her admitted to the hospital the next morning. My husband and I did our best to put on a brave front so that we would not scare her or her twin sister but we were scared ourselves.
We told her we had to take her to the hospital for tests and we were told she would have to be there for at least ten days. She was scared, she had never had to be in the hospital for anything so she did not know what to expect. But the nurses and child life specialists at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital were great with her. After ten days she came home and we started to try and adjust to a new norm with clinic and treatments and hospital stays and medications that would be necessary over the next two years.
But Cadia’s case was not normal. She developed a reaction to one of the chemo drugs. Two weeks after we went home, we had to bring her back to the hospital, and there we stayed from September to the end of December. She had developed severe pancreatitis and spent one month in pediatric intensive care, mostly under sedation. It was touch and go for awhile, but she made it through. After awhile she was sent to Mary Free Bed to learn to walk and move again after being bedridden for so long. But she was still very sick, so she was sent back to HDVCH where they continued to monitor her pancreatitis. She finally came home a few days after Christmas. At this point, she had lost her hair, had two drains for pancreatic fluid and a backpack for feeding because she could not eat. In February she had surgery for the pancreatitis and was in the hospital for another month.
She missed a lot of school but went when she was feeling well enough to go and she had an extraordinary teacher who would come and visit and go over some schoolwork with her. She had a lot of friends and family who came to visit and we had an overwhelming amount of support from her previous school and her current school, as well as our church family. And we have also made friends with several families in the hospital whose children are fighting the same battle, some who have won and some who, sadly, have lost.
Cadia has shown a tremendous amount of strength and courage through this and her twin sister, Carmen, has been right there by her side. She still has a long road of treatment ahead of her, but we are hoping the worst is behind us. We are excited for her to be able to start 6th grade with her sister and be able to get back to a normal childhood again.
So, this has been a roller coaster ride up to this point. And I am sure there will be lots more dips and loops as she continues treatment for the next few years. But we are in a much better place than we were a year ago. Our family now knows what Childhood Cancer Awareness Month means to us – it means strength and support, it means love and courage, it means laughter and tears and it means friends and family.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – attend a fundraiser, make a donation, wear a ribbon or simply say a prayer. For more information on how you can raise awareness go to https://www.acco.org. Because kids can’t fight cancer alone.
Septiembre es el mes de concientización sobre el cáncer infantil. Usted puede preguntarse, “¿Qué significa eso para mí?” Bueno el año pasado, me hubiera hecho la misma pregunta … hasta que mi hija, CADIA, fue diagnosticada con leucemia linfoblástica aguda de células B a la edad de 9 años en Agosto de 2016.
Cáncer – es una palabra tan aterradora para niños y adultos. En los Estados Unidos, 15,780 niños menores de 21 años son diagnosticados con cáncer cada año. Cuando se quejó de dolor en la rodilla y en la pierna, era un dolor creciente y nuestro médico también lo pensó. Pero cuando lloraba cada noche y no paraba, supimos que algo estaba mal y un análisis de sangre lo confirmó. Otros signos son narices sangrientas y muchos moretones, pero ella no tenía nada de eso. Tuvimos que tenerla ingresada al hospital a la mañana siguiente. Mi marido y yo hicimos todo lo posible para ser valientes, y no asustar a ella o su hermana gemela .
CADIA ha mostrado una tremenda cantidad de fuerza y coraje a través de esto y su hermana gemela, Carmen, ha estado justo a su lado. Ella todavía tiene un largo camino de tratamiento por delante, pero esperamos que lo peor está detrás de nosotros. Estamos entusiasmados por ella para poder empezar el sexto grado con su hermana y poder volver a una niñez normal.
Así que esto ha sido como un viaje de montaña rusa , y altibajos, como ella continúa el tratamiento para los próximos años. Pero estamos en un lugar mucho mejor que hace un año. Nuestra familia ahora sabe qué significa para nosotros el mes de la concientización sobre el cáncer infantil – significa fuerza y apoyo, significa amor y coraje, significa risas y lágrimas y significa amigos y familia.
Septiembre es mes de concientización sobre el cáncer infantil – asista a un evento de recaudación de fondos, haga una donación, use un listón o simplemente decir una oración. Para obtener más información sobre cómo puede aumentar la conciencia, visite https://www.ACCO.org. Porque los niños no pueden luchar solos contra el cáncer.