Cancer treatments like surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or bone marrow transplant, kill cells that grow quickly, such as cancer cells. But in a child, healthy cells in the bone, brain, and other organs, are growing fast, too. Treatment can damage these cells and keep them from growing and developing the way they should.
– American Cancer Society
A few years ago, I learned of a family from Montana who were staying in an RV at Children’s Hospital. Their sweet son Caden had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma. I literally cannot fathom, having experienced what we did with Ben, what it would have been like living in a parking lot 700 miles from our home. Of course you do whatever you have to do when your child has cancer and we would have done the same to get the best treatment for our son.
Fast forward to 2015 and thankfully Caden and his family are back home in Montana. The other day they were on my mind so I checked their blog to see how Caden was doing. His mother Pam gave a very honest update, which I thought so beautifully and painfully described some of the issues they are facing on the other side of cancer because of the treatment Caden received. Take a look…
Otherwise, he just has his fair share of “survivor” issues, they call them. I think we have the FM system finally figured out at his school to help him hear his teacher better. But, he feels an awareness of being different and being “the only kid in the school with hearing aids”…can’t blame him for just wanting to fit in. His gym teacher has “significant concerns about his balance and coordination”. That was a little hard to hear, but not too surprising. At the same time, I remember two years ago when we were struggling in physical therapy sessions just to get him to stand on one foot while holding onto me. To see him today, he’s soooo much better. He was finally able to get his live vaccinations, now that he’s two years post-transplant. The timing is good with the recent measles outbreaks, but I can’t say he particularly enjoys the shots. We are trying to stay ahead of the anxiety he experienced leading up to his last set of scans and are meeting with a counselor on Friday to figure out some ways to best support him and work through the trauma he’s experienced, for lack of a better word. I try not to dwell on these challenges for him, nor feel overwhelmed by looking too far ahead. A friend, the leader of my Bible study, said it wonderfully today, “The antidote for discontentment is gratitude.” I don’t have to go far to see my friends that have lost their children to this hideous disease or are fighting so hard to keep them alive and just be filled with gratitude. For the simple miracle of Caden here with us today. To not be holed up in the hospital or stuck within 50 miles of Seattle for months on end, living in an RV. I thank God for my dishwasher a lot. The struggles and memories remain in my heart, but rather than make me bitter, I’ve found gratitude for where we are right now. Sure, it brings us down sometimes, but I’d like to think that thanksgiving dominates.
Friends, this is why the work happening at the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research is so important. We believe every child should not only survive their diagnosis, but do so with their whole mind and body unharmed. The team of researchers here are tirelessly working to make that a reality. So that some day hearing loss, balance issues, coordination, and anxiety (to name only a few) will no longer be outcomes of treatment.
*Many thanks to Pam, Caden and the Shrauger family for allowing me to share a bit of their story today.