childhood cancer

‘3 weeks after our trip to Disney, I stared at a black and white image with a mass that took up a third of my son’s brain.’: Dad urges ‘never take a day of normalcy for granted’ during quarantine after losing son to brain tumor

“We were isolated for 28 days in the hospital room. He was immunocompromised. Our world consisted of hand sanitizer, hospital masks, and surgical gloves to avoid contamination. As we watch the news, we hear the increasing mortality rates for coronavirus, some 3%. I would’ve given anything to hear those numbers for my son. Normalcy was ripped from our hands.”

‘We’d like to speak with your mom alone for a few minutes.’ At 11, I had to make the decision. ‘If I get rid of it, I’ll never have to go through this again?’: Childhood osteogenic sarcoma survivor amputates leg, ‘I couldn’t let cancer win’

“I was told it was just ‘growing pains.’ Hours passed. I heard people crying around me about a ‘missing leg’ and tried to open my eyes. I had to figure out what was going on! I was 11, hooked up to a monitored morphine drip. The pain is so vivid. My parents came over to greet me. ‘Dad, I did it!’ I didn’t quite understand what it all meant. I was determined to not die.”

‘She is simply too complicated.’ They didn’t see me as a little girl anymore. I was nothing but a body.’: Childhood leukemia survivor’s most important lesson, ‘Emotions are meant to be felt’

“I made a promise to myself. If I was cleared from having the chance of developing a second cancer, I’d get a tattoo. I met a lady who asked me a question that changed my life and perspective forever. ‘Why are you the way that you are?’ she asked. From then on, we became connected by the heart. We were able to help heal each other.”

‘Doctor…please believe us. Our son is not OK.’ He looked at us like we were crazy. ‘He looks perfectly fine to me!’: Mom urges ‘trust your gut’ after son’s Stage 4 Neuroblastoma misdiagnosed, cancer cells detected during ‘cancer-free hospital party’

“Pepe let out the most painful cry I’d ever heard. Cries of, ‘Mommy, I’m hurting.’ Days passed. He developed an uncontrollable cough. It was written off. The doctor looked at us like we were the sick ones. ‘Are you SURE this is the baby you describe as so sick?’ The next afternoon, I had a voicemail. ‘Hello, Ms. Zapien. Please get a hold of me ASAP!’ I felt the blood drain from my body. A mass the size of my fist was pushing down on Pepe’s left lung, and they were forming all over his little body.”

‘Mom, her x-rays are not good. It’s spreading.’ WHAT?! She went from mentioning pain to crying that it ‘hurt so bad.’: Daughter diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, ‘I’ve learned more in 2 years than the 40 I’ve been alive’

“Gabby kept complaining about her left knee. Her brother had just gone through a similar growth spurt and had constant knee pain as well. I thought nothing of it. I took the kids to Target after school one day when I noticed she was limping. ‘Does it really hurt THAT BAD?’ Nothing looked wrong with it. Soon after, I got the call. ‘They will call and tell you where Gabby needs to go.’ WHAT? I paused, no idea what she was talking about.”

‘Wait. Is this normal?’ He turned his neck. My first thought, as a mama of 10, was lymph node. Then, I touched it. I knew.’: Mom admires 11-year-old son’s tenacity during cancer battle, ‘Told you I’d live’

“My husband and I decided to stop fooling around. I loaded up 10 kids, rented a house in another state, and we hit the road. I waited for the final lab reports. I was making sandwiches. I’ll never forget which step I was on, because that’s how they stayed. Pregnant with our 11th baby, the surgeon’s number popped up on my phone. He asked me to walk away from the children. My heart screamed, ‘NOT MY BABY.’”

‘With perfect clarity, our 20-month-old looked up at us. ‘I love you.’ It was a miracle days before he passed.’: Father recalls tender moment son diagnosed with childhood cancer shocked parents, ‘Those words are forever etched in my memory’

“A miracle came just days before he passed away. At just 20 months old, our son had only verbalized one word. Dog. Yet, he responded to my wife and I as we laid over his crib, tears falling from our cheeks, expressing our love for him. With absolute perfect clarity, our little boy looked up at us. I held him for the last time. I crave his smile. I miss seeing his eyes light up.”

‘We need to make her soup so she feels better!’ I had to explain to my 5-year-old his sister was going to heaven.’: Mom loses daughter to Neuroblastoma, ‘we will never forget our brave, beautiful warrior’

“I watched her breathe so slowly. ‘It’s okay to go now. You won’t be in pain anymore.’ At 9:14 p.m. she took her last breath. Her brothers cuddled her one last time and said their final goodbyes. There’s something about seeing your 5-year-old carrying a tiny little casket that will break your heart and make you so proud all at the same time. He was always holding his little sister, even in death.”

‘All done?’ she whispered in my ear. ‘No, sweet baby. This is just the beginning.’: Mom of 8 learns of daughter’s cancer diagnosis day after adoption finalized, husband leaves, ‘How was this my life?!’

“The very next day, our teeny little 21-month-old baby girl was diagnosed with leukemia. She was close to death. I watched the terror in her face as she was strapped down. She couldn’t see me, didn’t know I was right behind her. I wrapped her up in my arms. Another major bomb hit our family. My marriage fell apart. I was left single parenting. People say they could never do what I do, but I didn’t have a choice.”

‘Help me, mama. Pleeeease, help me!’ Covered in sweat, he escaped the doctors. That was it! I was DONE.’: Boy beats cancer 3 times, loses vision, ‘he wasn’t supposed to survive his first day’

“The doctor looked me square in the eye. ‘Brain tumor.’ WHAT?! I looked at my baby playing with Tonka trucks. ‘I’m sorry, but I think we both knew it.’ WHAT? Are you freaking kidding? No, I didn’t! I sat in the pre-op area signing consent forms. I wrote in large letters, ‘NO STUDENT OR RESIDENT IS TO TOUCH HIM.’ Never again was I going to just accept what a doctor said without question.”

For our best love stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter: