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Pediatric Foundation of the Lehigh Valley, Inc.
"Please read, share, donate, volunteer to a children's cancer foundation. 4% funding isn't enough."
- Tommy's mom, Patti
To help PCFLV continue to support kids like Tommy and their family, please donate in Tommy's honor.
30 Days/30 Stories
September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. At PCFLV, we are committed to spreading the GOLD all year long. However, in September, we truly make it our mission. 30 Days, 30 Stories celebrates the children we know and love and the brave battles they fight and have fought, with their families by their sides. In celebrating these beautiful children and their stories, we hope to inspire you to join us in our mission to SPREAD THE GOLD in September and all year long!

September 21st
The following was written by Tommy's mom, Patti, after submitting Tommy's story, written by Tommy...

The reality of cancer returning is always a possibly. It's something you fear and hope that you never have to experience again.

In May 2016, Tommy had a PET/CT scan, and areas were questionable and concerning and suggested a close follow up. Fast forward to September 15th, Tommy had another PET/CT scan.

The evening of September 15th, I read the results on patient portal because I wanted to be prepared talking to the doctor the next day. I wish I never did it. My heart sank and started to break when reading the report.

Two new areas in his chest and right axilla have increased in size and metabolic activity since prior study, concerning for disease progression. Areas that were concerning on last scan are still present and had moderate FDG uptake and were written as concerning for recurrent melanoma.

We are waiting for Tommy to be sheduled for 2 biopsies to determine if his primary cancer has returned, a secondary cancer had emerged, or (a hope and chance) that both areas are negative.

Cancer shows you after years of being stable, it can return and rock your foundation to the core again. Our hearts are breaking - scared to death the worst is happening again, but hoping for the best.

The message below was written last month before any of this occurred. I wanted to keep it the way it was written. It hurts reading it but unfortunately this is our roller coaster life with cancer.

Please read, share, donate, volunteer to a children's cancer foundation. 4% funding isn't enough.

My name is Tommy, and I am a cancer survivor. When I was told about my cancer in August 2010, I was 9 years old. I was told I had malignant melanoma (skin cancer) and that I needed to have surgery right away because of the cancer. At that time, I was extremely upset hearing I needed surgery because that meant I couldn't play soccer for most of the Fall season. I didn't know what cancer was and what having cancer meant, so I didn't know what to feel about having cancer.

I have stage 3 malignant melanoma. My cancer spread to my lymph nodes in my right arm and cancer cells were in my groin also. I have had 2 surgeries; high dose and low dose interferon treatment; saw tons of doctors; had many, many tests and scans; and lots of bloodwork has been taken. I wish that part of the last 6 years of my life didn't happen and that I didn't have to go through everything I did.

When I got diagnosed when I was 9, we were told it had nothing to do with the sun. I wish I didn't have to worry about the sun and applying sunscreen and not getting a tan or worrying about the effects the sun can have on me. I would like to have a tan and be carefree in the sun and not worry, but for me, I will always have to be careful because my chances of getting melanoma again are extremely high.

Soccer helped me through my tough days. I looked forwarded to playing at practices and games and being with my friends. Today, I still love playing soccer. I play for my high school team and play with a travel soccer club. This year, I started being a referee at soccer games now too.

Six years after being told I had cancer, I still see numerous doctors, have 3 month or 6 month checkups, tests, scans and bloodwork and sometimes biopsies. At the present time, I remain stable and remain No Evidence of Disease (NED).

Cancer might have changed me in some ways, but it doesn't define who I am now or who I will become in the future. I would like to leave cancer in my past. I don't want to be known as that kid who has cancer I just want to be known for who I am.

The part I wouldn't want to change and the part that I am very thankful for is all the supportive, friendly, and caring people I have met along the way including PCFLV and other organizations who have been with me at my weakest times but also my strongest times - and without their help and resources they provided I wouldn't be the person I am today.

More 30 Days/30 Stories
Day 20: Bradley
Day 22: Giuliana