One of the hardest battles many people face is against cancer, but it’s especially difficult if the battle happens during a person’s childhood. September is ‘National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.’
Meet Rebecca Morrow. “I had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.”
Today, Rebecca is a healthy adult with a loving family, but she went through quite the journey to get to this point. “In 1996, I was 12-years-old. The summer I was diagnosed I was losing a lot of weight. I was very pale and had a couple nose bleeds that last a few hours. My parents just thought it was dehydration. I mean, nobody thinks their kid has cancer.”
Nobody thought Rebecca would have to endure two years of chemotherapy, two weeks of cranial radiation, 70 spinal taps, and even hair loss at least three times. “I was diagnosed in Minot, North Dakota and at the time we had to drive to Bismarck, North Dakota, which was about two hours away, to go to the hospital. They did not have a pediatric oncology ward; it was just a pediatric ward. I was in a room with someone who had pneumonia and the flu and with an immune suppressed disease like cancer it’s not really a great situation. After a couple months in that hospital, my parents were Air Force they were transported to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina where they had in Columbia an actual pediatric cancer ward and that was amazing. They had all kinds of groups and things for kids with cancer, teens with cancer, so I could relate to others going through the disease instead of doing it on my own.”
Morrow was cancer free by age 16, but she feared the impacts of the treatments would carry on throughout her life. “I was going through puberty and one of the things they said was a strong possibility was that I would be infertile and wouldn’t be able to have kids. Now we have a beautiful three-and-a year baby girl. She’s healthy and that was terrifying when I was pregnant because of what I went through.”
Morrow says she owes a huge thanks to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. If it weren’t for the funding of valuable children cancer research, her story may have ended differently. “St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a foundation that raises money strictly for research for grants and things for kids with cancer. There’s not a lot of research money that goes toward childhood cancer so it’s great to have an organization like that. Kids are different than adults and need to be treated that way.”
For any parents who are in the battle of a lifetime with their children, Rebecca says remember this. “Just try and stay positive try to get them involved with activities with kids who are going through the same thing because it’s one thing to kind of baby them because you feel bad and you want to protect them and keep them safe, but it really helped me as a kid for my parents to kind of let me go. It actually gave me the courage to fight.”
If you’re interested in making a donation for childhood cancer research you can visit stbaldricks.org. Morrow plans to host a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser sometime next year.