Watch above: childhood cancer awareness month: Saskatoon family shares struggles with disease
SASKATOON – September is childhood cancer awareness month, something no child should ever have to go through but unfortunately many do.
Approximately 10,000 children are currently living with cancer in the country, 1,500 more will be diagnosed this year. Of those 1,500 cases approximately 50 to 60 of them are children from Saskatchewan.
Among those is 10-year old Micah who was donning his very own superhero cape for our interview on Thursday. Micah is soft spoken, sweet, loves Lego, is an older brother to four little sisters and has a great sense of humour. He’s also a cancer survivor.
“I don’t have the strength to climb which I used to like to do.”
Soccer and baseball are still out of the question as Micah continues to regain his strength. It’s been a roller coaster for the Anderson family that began last July.
“We were at supper and he threw up,”said Carolyn Anderson, Micah’s mother.
The vomiting continued and while it wasn’t consistent, the family was concerned it was more than the stomach flu and began to log Micah’s health.
“Every morning I would feel nauseous and I wouldn’t feel good and I would maybe have a tummy ache,” said Micah.
On Sept. 23, 2013 Micah underwent an MRI.
“When we finished the MRI, I asked how long the wait was going to be to find out the results and they said about a week, about half an hour later somebody came out to talk to us and I knew that something was wrong,” said Anderson.
What doctors found would be the family’s worst nightmare. Micah had medulloblastoma, a fast-growing, high-grade tumor located in the cerebellum, the lower, rear portion of the brain.
It is unusual for medulloblastomas to spread outside of the brain and spinal cord.
“We were very shocked, very scared, cried a lot,” added Anderson.
On Sept. 30, 2013, surgery was performed on Micah to remove the tumor, followed up by six weeks of recovery then months of intense radition and chemotherapy that ended in late June.
“I guess my hope is that he can be a healthy boy that he can live a life that he would’ve lived before,” said Anderson.
Micah is cancer-free now and will have to undergo an MRI every three months for the next two years. According to doctors in many cases the battle isn’t over and survival is just the first step.
“Depending on the type of cancer they had could affect different organs in the body,” said Dr. Kaiser Ali, a pediatric oncologist with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.
In some cases, a child could face what is known as late effects. Problems that may not go away after treatment or may not show up until months to years after treatment. Some late effects include secondary cancers, fertility issues, heart disease and other complications.
Childhood cancers differ from adult cancers in many ways but which isn’t necessarily a bad thing according to experts.
“Childhood cancers as a rule especially with the Leukemias are much more curable than adult cancers. Another kind of cancer that’s very curable is the childhood kidney cancers that have a very high cure rate,” said Ali.
“Overall, the cure rate for children with cancer is higher than an adults there’s no questions about that.”