By: Shannon O'Connor
Jonathon loves superheroes so much he wants to be one when he grows up – in the form of an oncologist. Inspired by the doctor who treats his cancer, 4-year-old Jonathon recently shared this decision with his mom, Cheridah – a major moment she acknowledges he might not have had.
“Even with diagnosis, even being so young, he has decided that he wants to be an oncologist,” said Cheridah, “So he'll walk around the house with his stethoscope on and make sure everyone's okay.”
Unfortunately, cancer has taken center stage in Jonathon’s life when other things should have. Things like celebrating birthdays and starting preschool.
“When Jonathon was diagnosed with leukemia, I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest,” said Cheridah.
Suddenly, her 2-year-old’s future had changed. Her energetic boy would not start preschool because he’d have to undergo things many adults couldn’t bear. After February 13, 2019, when Jonathon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), Cheridah wasn’t sure how long Jonathon would have to be a kid.
ALL is the most common type of pediatric cancer, which meant there was a protocol in place to treat Jonathon. However, doctors warned Cheridah of a slew of negative effects that could come with treatment: possible toileting regression, speech delays and the need for physical therapy.
Incredibly, Jonathon showed his brave spirit and overcame them all. He re-potty-trained himself, his level of articulation is beyond his years, and he’s never had a physical therapy session. He’s also celebrated two birthdays. For a boy who had to put his childhood on hold, every moment was a milestone for him.
But treatment for childhood cancers like ALL is still harsh, especially for children. Jonathon developed diabetes while on treatment, which is a rare case for kids undergoing chemotherapy and IVIG infusions. Since childhood cancer is the reality that knocked on her front door, Cheridah knows just how important it is to continue funding research, and how far we have yet to go in spreading awareness.
“Before the situation, I knew nothing about childhood cancer,” Cheridah said. “I didn't even realize that it was a thing that could happen to children. Raising awareness is needed. There’s not enough people that talk about it. They don't talk about what happens when your child is diagnosed with cancer. And the organizations don't get enough light. There's not enough light being shined on such a horrible disease.”
Milestones in a child’s life are their biggest moments growing up. But when a child has cancer, they might miss out on some of these experiences. On Giving Tuesday, December 1, your donations will fund childhood cancer research that can lead to safer, more effective treatments. That means more opportunities for every kid to experience these milestones.
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