I wish I could wish cancer away. I wish wishes were free and came true, but only if you really mean them, deep down inside. God is smart enough to tell the difference between a real, honest-to-goodness wish made from the depths of the soul and a wish made in the heat of the moment. He would never allow a wish that called for someone’s death to come true. And if I couldn’t wish cancer away, I would definitely wish for it to be more obvious, like for an automatic alarm to go off and a siren to sound and red lights flashing in the house of the ailing person. Especially a child, because children often cannot speak for themselves and have to depend on others bigger than them to notice something is wrong before anything can be done about it.
Today, I looked at the symptoms of neuroblastoma as part of my research for TheTruth365. First symptoms are vague, and can be passed off as a virus: fatigue, loss of appetite, fever and joint pain. Because it can manifest itself anywhere in the sympathetic nervous system (neck to pelvis), further symptoms vary, depending on where the primary tumor is located. It can render the child unable to crawl, stand, or walk.
In my case, I had trouble walking. I started using walls and or furniture to maintain my balance, and even then, I fell down a lot. And when the nurse at my fifteen month check up asked to see me walk, she noticed that I hyper-extended my right leg (which indicated renal artery compression). My mom has said that the nurse’s first thought was that I might have something wrong with my hips. I was taken to a pediatrician, and after examining my eyes, the doctor was concerned that I might have a brain tumor. But the CT results showed nothing abnormal. The doctor then told my parents that he thought I might have a viral infection of my cerebellum (part of the brain which controls how we move). He took some abdominal x-rays, which showed nothing. He then ordered a urine test, and when that came back abnormal, I was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Seattle. They ran a twenty-four hour urine collection, and hoped that the results would show something, anything, since nothing else seemed to be working. On January 13, 1983, my mom’s birthday (of all days), I was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, stage IV – about as bad as the disease can get. My primary tumor was on my right adrenal gland (on my kidney), which they only found by way of ultrasound.
The story gets even longer from there, but obviously I survived the the unsurvivable. I am here today, telling and retelling my story in hopes that it will motivate people to help, to come join me in being a voice for those who have no voice.
Neuroblastoma is a tricky disease. Sometimes if it is detected in infants less than a year old, it corrects itself, goes away on its own. I have heard of one or two of these cases, though I don’t really remember the specifics. And sometimes, no primary tumor can be detected. It is invisible in every way. How can this be? I don’t know the answer, but this just strengthens my resolve. Time to fight for a cure, for the children who never got a chance to grow up, and for the children who was just diagnosed with this monster. I so wish cancer did not exist, that this was a perfect world, with no diseases. I know that there is a lot more wrong with the world than its diseases, but I am only one person. I choose childhood cancer advocacy because I do not want any other child out there to have my childhood. I would not wish it on anybody. I understand now what happened, and whereas I think I know why it happened (so I can be here today doing what I am doing), I probably only see a small fraction of what God’s actual plans are for me. And that’s okay. I’ll take it day by day, and I will not stop.