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Aaron’s Story

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My son's name is Aaron and he was a gift from God in that he came to us through adoption. He's the sweetest little boy and from the moment I held him, just seconds old, he has been the center of my world. Due to divorce, we are now a family of three - myself, my mom and Aaron.

My son was 5 when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He was just three weeks into a brand new experience - Kindergarten. It came out of nowhere. No obvious symptoms. We woke up on September 20th to get ready for church and he was covered head to toe with a strange rash. Our journey through the world of pediatric cancer came at us very abruptly and it hasn't stopped yet. After 5 months of intensified chemotherapy treatments, blood transfusions, platelets, bone marrow biopsies and aspirates we were unable to obtain remission and headed to Duke University for a life-saving Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant. We spent 7 months in Durham, NC while Aaron underwent and recovered from this procedure which required that I walk away from my job. As of March 18, 2018, Aaron is two years cancer free and two years post Bone Marrow Transplant. Thank you, Jesus! He is now 8 and loves soccer and his doggy Sebastian.  

He is still undergoing treatment for a transplant side effect known as Graft vs. Host Disease. The donor cells are still not playing nice with his original cells but we are working toward that. In the meantime, it's not the most comfortable thing for Aaron to endure as it causes GI and skin issues that are just constant and aggravating for Aaron. Please join us in prayers for this.  

Aaron has not been in school full time since his diagnosis. He spent all but the first three weeks of Kindergarten on homebound. First grade was all-homebound and he's been in school about 40 days of this year's attempt at first grade. His homeschool teacher is the best and we pray that 2nd grade will be an easy adjustment for him in the fall. He has dreams of becoming a firefighting veterinarian and I'm trusting and hoping that God has the same plans and will make a way for him to catch up where he's fallen behind.  

Throughout this journey, God has just shown up in so many unbelievable ways. He has surrounded us so completely with exactly what we have needed. A bible verse at the right time to speak to the very thing that we were struggling with. A hug, a phone call at just the right time, amazing doctors, treatment options (many families we've gotten to know don't have options), resources to buy prescriptions, to travel out of state for treatment and pay bills that couldn't get paid while I was unemployed for 14 months. We were indeed blessed with a faith community that just picked us up and held us tight and refused to let go. Many in this community we've never met and yet God has still brought them to our side. We were so amazingly blessed. You all are a part of that community, as are organizations like Special Love. Aaron has also enjoyed a week of camp through Special Love. There he was able to just be himself. He was amongst fellow survivors who understand his issues and were not as harsh on him as other children have been because they just don't understand what he's been through.  

We live on such a very tight budget due to the financial fall out that comes along with a pediatric cancer diagnosis. This tight budget makes camp and respite opportunities impossible to even think about. When you add my single parent status into that equation - the impossible just got that much more impossible. So with all my heart, I thank you for following God's calling and being the light for our family as we continue to work through this journey of pediatric cancer. My family is thankful for all of you!

 

About the Camp Scholarships Program

Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation's Camp Scholarships Program provides funding for a child in remission to attend a camp of their choice. Cancer often isolates children from their friends and activities they love. The Camp Scholarships Program helps children in remission to reconnect with those friends and activities. Camp allows children who have faced a cancer diagnosis to gain independence, make new friends, and develop new skills. You can sponsor a child and send them to camp by donating to CCRF's Camp Scholarships Program. Mail cash or check to 249 Lincoln Way E., New Oxford, PA 17350 or donate online at https://give-ccrf.networkforgood.com/.



Connor’s Story

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Our story begins like so many others, just a normal day, December 5th my boys playing together when Connor starts to say his stomach hurts. He lays down and so begins two days of his stomach hurting. A trip to the doctor and two trips to the ER. All doctors seemed to be confident it wasn’t his appendix, which was also my concern. On December 7th around 11 PM he woke up screaming, “It hurts so bad mommy.” I quickly rushed him to the ER for the 2nd time. This time a wonderful doctor listened to me and around 3 in the morning he had an IV in and had a CT scan done. A few hours later she came in to tell me they found a large mass on his liver and an ambulance was on its way to rush us to Hershey Medical Center. My heart still sinks when I think of that moment. I held in my crying as much as possible because he was watching me, so sweet and tired and in pain wondering why I was crying. I told him I was just tired. My husband rushed to see us before we left for Hershey, my mom rushed down from Clarion. Family friends helped with our other boys.

We arrived at Hershey and no time was wasted. He had a second CT scan. No less than 8 surgeons, oncologists, and med students surrounded us to tell us he had a tumor on his liver and would be having a 7-hour surgery the next day. One of my brothers arrived and we spent the day playing with Connor trying to not upset him. I remember clearly that we didn’t have anything for Connor because we left from the hospital so they gave him the Spider Man jammies. At 11:00 that night him and I sitting in the quiet hospital room and he looks at me and whispers, “Mommy when I grow up I am going to be Spider Man.” I just remember holding back my tears and thinking, yes, you have to grow up.

The next day he had surgery. Seven long hours and he would spend the next 10 days in the hospital. You don’t know the anguish of seeing tubes sticking out of your child, seeing his perfect belly, now with a permanent scar.

Connor recovered from this surgery while we waited for the pathology reports to determine if he would need chemotherapy. They came back, Hepatoblastoma, yes he would need chemo. New Year’s Eve he had surgery to place a port in his chest and began chemotherapy. Four cycles of chemo over the next few months would lead to hair loss and permanent hearing loss. He now wears hearing aids. Through it all the outpouring of support from communities and charities we had never heard of before helped to lighten our load and let us focus on his health.

I am happy to report today Connor is 2 and ½ years cancer free!

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer is the leading disease killer among children in the United States with 1 in 5 children diagnosed not surviving. Despite these statistics, the FDA has approved only three new cancer treatments for children in the last 20 years. In order to have a world without childhood cancer, there needs to be more funding for research. More research will ensure better treatments for children fighting cancer and fewer children having to battle this terrible disease each year.



Verity’s Story

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Child Name: Verity
Diagnosis: Medulloblastoma
State: KY
Program: Helping Hands Fund
Date Helped: October 2016

1. Cancer. When did this word enter your life?
July 25, 2016

2. How has cancer affected your family in a positive and/or negative way?
Positive – We have seen humanity’s greatest qualities: love, courage, and compassion.
Negative – Suffering and sickness are hard to see/endure. Family separation, for a time, was really hard.

3. What has been the biggest challenge or struggle during your child’s treatment?
The first and greatest struggle as parents was deciding on the best treatment option and center. For our child, nutrition has been the greatest. Vomiting, dehydration, and fatigue are all culprits. A G-tube has really helped.

4. How have you and your family stayed mentally and emotionally healthy?
By receiving support from family and friends, we know that Verity is being prayed for, is loved, and not alone. Even organizations, like Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, that do not even know us personally, show care and concern. Our faith has gotten us through.

5. What has brought the most joy or fun to your family’s life during your child’s treatment?
The simple, ordinary things in life. Being able to share our journey together, experiencing the good and the bad, is joy in and of itself. Sometimes that may be finding humor in an experience, appreciating the blessings of today, or holding each other’s hands during a hard time.

6. How was your family impacted when chosen to receive help from our Helping Hands Fund?
We were relieved of some of our lodging costs during our stay in Boston.

7. How did you hear about Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation?
Social worker at MGH.

 



Angelo’s Story

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Child Name: Angelo
Diagnosis: Burkett Lymphoma
State: CA
Program: Camp Scholarship Program
Date Helped: February 2017

Angelo Yu survived the treatment against 4th stage Burkett Lymphoma in the head. His remission started in 2014. He went back to school hesitant and scared. He had this feeling of being someone different. It started from his outlook for losing his hair, his fear towards unfriendly reactions from peers, or from all sorts of anxiety that he was getting out of his predicament.

It is really hard for a child to accept the changes that are taking place with him. We can sense that, even if he would just say he is alright. His gestures and the way he gets along with other children was somewhat affected by his lack of self-esteem.

He used to run as fast as he could, but now his vision, as damaged by the tumor, keeps him from doing that. He was good at mathematics and reading but now the fonts are getting harder to see. He would just cry containing his excitement to say his topic at you when he would forget it seconds after waiting for your head to turn to him. It was a very frustrating situation and so much more struggle within.

We are so grateful that Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation has granted Angelo the funds to pursue his dream of being able to learn music. For such a wonderful support that was given to Angelo, he develops his skills through piano lessons and has been performing in recitals with the Yamaha Music School.

Through playing the piano, he has overcome his short-term memory loss and has gained as much self-confidence as possible.

May this foundation continue to support children, especially those with a disability as a result of their cancer, bring back their normal way of living. More power.



Serena’s Story

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Child Name: Serena
Age: 15
Diagnosis: ALL
State: NV
Program: Camp Scholarships Program

 

1. Cancer. When did this word enter your life? When did your child go into remission?
January 23, 2017

2. How has cancer affected your family in a positive and/or negative way?
I hate seeing my daughter go through her hard days but they aren’t so many. She had a hard month but does well now since doctors figured out the source of her pain and could treat it. It’s also great to see how nice people can be when they see you going through a trial like this.

3. What has been the biggest challenge or struggle during your child’s treatment?
Stomach pain, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and stress make me emotional which makes Serena emotional as well.

4. How have you and your family stayed mentally and emotionally healthy?
Yes, because of my fiancé. He helps with her appointments, which are hard for me. We try to keep everything the same. We also exercise and do fun things together as much as possible.

5. What has brought the most joy or fun to your family’s life during your child’s treatment?
Seeing how kind those around us are reacting through this trial.

6. How was your family impacted when chosen to receive help from our Helping Hands Fund?
I was poor as a child and once I became a mom, soon after I became a single mom for 8 years. I appreciate every little bit of help I get. I don’t know how to express my gratitude enough, especially because I am not used to asking for help. Thank you!

7. How did you hear about Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation?
Through National Childhood Cancer Foundation.

8. Is there something about your circumstance that is unique? If so, please explain.
My daughter was the captain of her school volleyball team and thriving in every way! It was a fluke that we caught it. We caught it with monthly blood tests. We are so thankful we caught it early!