by Karen Ladner Haas, Childhood Cancer Advocate
Going into 2017, I have mixed emotions about cancer. I feel optimistic about my son’s battle with the disease itself, but I am frustrated about the long term side effects of the treatment he endured. It seems that with each passing year, we find out about more long term effects. I know from discussions with other parents, and from our personal experience, that survivors face numerous issues. Long term effects of cancer treatment are a complex problem that can involve or lead to physical, cognitive, and mental health issues. Regular follow-up is necessary, and for many of the issues this means trips to the hospital. These trips can be physically, financially, and emotionally draining.
by Trisha Paul, CKN Advisory Board Member
“What is cancer?”
“Something you can die from,” an adolescent in remission once told me.
He later described his treatment to me, saying, “if it weren’t for the treatment, I would’ve been….” His voice trailed off as he swiped a finger across his neck and made a krrr sound. “It’s true,” he concluded, nodding.
This teen, in this moment, chose to express himself outside of words. He had been comfortable defining cancer explicitly in relation to “death” before, so why did his words falter now? I remember being taken aback by this symbolic beheading, an action fraught with connotations of cancer as both violent but also punitive. I wondered how many other children associated cancer with death, how many felt as though they were receiving a death sentence when diagnosed.