This piece was written by Whitney Crosser, mom to Wyatt, a neuroblastoma survivor. Read Wyatt's Story - Fighting Far From Home.
"I wish Grandpa didn't have cancer."
Wyatt was eating cereal and getting ready to start his online school day and shared this feeling with me. My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer this past winter. He likes to make pancakes and eggs for the kids but hasn't been feeling up to it recently due to treatment (although overall he's doing really well!). Maybe Wyatt was wishing for pancakes when this thought came to him?
"I know, I do too."
"Stupid cancer," he said. "Why do your cells betray you?"
We talked about how different cancers act in the body, how they have different treatments because they do different things, use different genes and pathways.Then he ate some more. His next question was heartbreaking.
"Do you think any kids with cancer like mine, with neuroblastoma, have died?"
What do I say, what do I say, what do I say?
First, I don't lie to Wyatt. Second, I'm a horrible liar and he'd see it on my face.
"Yes, they have."
Kids you've met. Kids you knew, kids who were your friends. That you played with, laughed with, shared meals with. Wyatt knows children die from cancer, but he also knows there are hundreds of types and subtypes. He knows a cancer like DIPG has no cure because it's come up when we talk about the importance of funding research. This is the first time he's asked about neuroblastoma.
"Every kid with neuroblastoma is different, Wyatt. For some reason, sometimes it's really aggressive, and kids progress on chemo, or on immunotherapy. That never happened to you. And even if you relapse, it will likely be small and we can treat it, okay? So don't be afraid if you relapse, because we'll have a plan, okay?"
He smiled and went back to his cereal.
I just had to tell him not to be afraid he'll die from neuroblastoma. He's 7.
Written by Whitney Crosser
Whitney is a mom to three boys: Henry, Wyatt and Brooks. Wyatt was diagnosed with stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma in March 2018. He and Whitney flew back and forth from Minnesota to New York to receive treatment, spending nearly six months away from Henry and Brooks. In August 2020, Wyatt celebrated two years of clear scans. Read Wyatt's Story - Fighting Far from Home.
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