September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 19, 2009 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors CURE Kid Christina Karem. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate to Christina’s Fund.
Christina Karem’s Story:
We had often discussed how devastating it would be to have a child diagnosed with cancer. How could you watch someone that you cherished more than anything suffer so much? Then we received Christina’s diagnosis, suddenly and only 4 days after her 8th birthday. She had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Christina was a happy, strong and very active little girl. One evening after riding her bike with friends, we noticed that the veins in her chest were very prominent. She had no other symptoms, but we called our pediatrician who recommended that we bring her in the following morning. We tried to remain positive, but deep down we knew that something was desperately wrong. Then, we were in the emergency department for a CT scan and the horror of a tumor was clearly imaged in her perfect little chest. It felt as though our hearts were being torn from our chests. Within 24 hours, Christina was in surgery for a thoracoscopy and biopsy, confirming her diagnosis, changing our lives forever.
Ironically, Christina’s greatest fear was of needles. She was to endure many needles. She received daily injections in the beginning of her treatment. She worked through her fear, and demanded that she give injections to herself. Her treatment included 6 cycles of chemotherapy. During treatment she was hospitalized twice with fevers, a sign of potential infection. With cancer treatment you fear cancer, but you also fear the treatment that could kill due to her inability to fight infections. We were fortunate that Christina was diagnosed very early and she has been in remission since the 2nd cycle of chemotherapy. Previous research had shown that children diagnosed in early stages of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma could be cured without radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is one of the biggest risk factors for future health problems, like the development of other cancers. We were so thankful that previous research made this information available to us and that she could be successfully treated without these risks.
Christina has never gotten angry about her diagnosis, or asked why. Although we tried hard to be brave in front of Christina, it was impossible to keep our fears hidden. She’d never seen this fear in either of us before, leading to her initial question, “Will I die from cancer?” We assured her that she would get treatment and would be cured. From that point, she had the ability to move forward. Throughout her treatment, she had faith that everything would be OK. She continued going to school, playing soccer, and having fun. There were so many times when she felt horrible, yet she never complained. She has taught us so much about courage, grace and strength.
Christina’s cancer is in remission and she has now been off treatment for 1 year and 9 months. You might wonder why you would be so exact, but every day off treatment is like a deep breath and the hope that this will mean a healthy, lifetime free of cancer. When asked for top three wishes at her oncologist appointment, Christina’s #1 was “I wish cancer never existed!”
By Karen and Kevin Karem
About September & CURE’S Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time:
September is recognized as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This September, CURE Childhood Cancer has committed to raising awareness and raising money to help find a cure for childhood cancer in our lifetime and put an end to this terrible disease through a special program CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time!
Please help us in our goal of raising $30,000 in the month of September while honoring special CURE kids each day of the month who have been affected by childhood cancer.
For more information, please click here.
About CURE Childhood Cancer:
Founded in 1975, CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education and support of patients and their families. Since its establishment as a grass-roots organization, CURE has focused its efforts on improving the care, quality of life, and survival rate of children with cancer.
The founders, parents and a dedicated pediatric oncologist, joined forces to support laboratory research that would translate into immediate care for children with cancer.
Since that time, CURE has raised millions of dollars to fund cutting edge research at the Aflac Cancer Center Blood Disorders Service at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine.
Through innovative programming, CURE also provides support for stricken families, providing them comfort and support during their time of devastating need.
Donate to Christina’s Fund
Visit us online at www.curechildhoodcancer.org for more information.