Forty-three children are diagnosed with cancer every. single. day. which adds up to roughly 16K children from birth-19 each year. Presently, there are approximately 350K survivors of childhood cancer.
Cancer is the #1 cause of disease-related death in infants, children, and teens; it is also the #1 cause of disease-related death among the 70K young adults diagnosed every year.
Here are the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer:
Continued, unexplained weight loss
Headaches often with early morning vomiting
Increased swelling and/or pain in joints, bones, back, or legs
Lump or mass, especially in the belly, neck, chest, pelvis, or armpits
Development of excessive bleeding, bruising, or rash
A whitish color behind the pupil; white eye instead of red eye in a photograph
Nausea that persists or vomiting without nausea
Constant tiredness, noticeable paleness
Eye or vision changes that occur suddenly and persist
Recurrent or persistent fevers of unknown origin
When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a soft tissue malignant tumor, arising out of my 2nd rib and invading my chest wall.
My symptoms included poor appetite, unexplained weight loss, loss of energy, loss of interest in activities, a constricted left pupil, and a drooping left eyelid.
It was 9 months before I was diagnosed and started treatment; many would say there was a delay in my diagnosis, that my pediatrician should have picked it up earlier.
Maybe; I don’t know.
Childhood cancer is rare, and quite honestly, it isn’t at the top of the list of probable diagnoses.
Ultimately, it was my mom’s ferocious tenacity that led to the CT scan that revealed the grapefruit-sized chest wall mass growing inside of me and impinging upon the brachial plexus nerve bed.
Thankfully, it was discovered in time, and I was successfully treated, cured with 7 cycles of multi-agent chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments to my left chest.
Truly, the best counsel I can offer is to become familiar with the Signs and symptoms; be persistent should these signs and symptoms continue unresolved or unexplained; go with your gut; listen to your intuition; be the squeaky wheel; be the mama bear that you are.
YOU are your child’s strongest advocate, always.
For more information unique to various childhood cancers, click here.