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!
Here is a story of a teen, Arnav. Arnav and his twin, Dhruv, are competitive track cyclists and compete on national, regional and local levels. Recently, they were training for the US Junior Nationals. This year, more than 500 athletes participated in this event within various age groups. These competitions were at the end of July and, luckily, in our backyard at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome. The races went well, and we couldn't be more proud of the boys' accomplishments. Dhruv is now officially the 10th fastest kid within TT event in the US while Arnav broke his personal best with 18th position, all within their age groups.
A week or so prior to Nationals, Arnav started complaining about his left leg. His calf and lower leg started to bother him. We even caught him limping few times. While we noticed these aches, we never thought much of them as the level of training required for such a competition is intense (several hours/day, 6 days/week, year round) and soreness of muscles/aches/pain is quite normal. During this time we kept trying various home remedies to calm his pain. Also, we knew the Nationals would be soon over and he would be able to relax his muscles.
Unfortunately, the pain never went away. In fact his lower leg started to swell. Worried, we took him to the doctor who, after conducting an MRI, gave us the worst news a parent can ever hear. The doctor told us he had Osteosarcoma cancer in his left leg. For those not in the medical field, it's a rare form of 'aggressive' bone cancer, which typically is more prevalent in boys aged 10-20. Data suggests there are 400 instances of this found in US, and it is known to claim limbs.
Since then, Arnav has been in the great care of a team of very accomplished doctors within Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley Health Network. His specific treatment plan is aggressive including sessions of chemotherapy bookended around a complex reconstructive leg and knee surgery with the ultimate goal of eliminating the tumor - in all, a multi-year treatment. We look forward to a time soon when Arnav gets back to his regular teenage schedule spending time with friends, school, biking, soccer or whatever teens do these days.
While the doctors will do their job, we know Arnav will not go down easy. He is a tough kid. Bouncing back from his femur fracture in 1st grade, to being on the Head of School list, and a National Honors inductee student, to winning PJAS competitions, to beating kids twice his size in bike races, to raising money for many charity organizations...he does it all with dedication and a smile. In fact, his first comment when he heard the heart breaking news was, "So, are you telling me that I beat more than half the Nation's best with a broken leg?" Made us cry...but then that's Arnav.
This most likely is Arnav's toughest race ever. It will test his persistence, endurance, will, strength and his iron. The road ahead is rocky, unpaved, and unchartered. But we have our unwavering faith in him and know he will not only fight against the odds but emerge as a winner. To support his fight, Arnav has come up with a mantra. This mantra is RELENTESS POSITIVITY. As he says, you can get anything done if you have a positive outlook. Yes, you can Arnav! Yes you can!! After all, what a caterpillar calls the end, the master calls a butterfly!
As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. In this case, it takes a community of kind, generous, thoughtful, resourceful, the knowledgeable and the willing to help the child defeat this horrific disease. What Arnav has discovered is exactly the same. In a matter of a short month, in addition to incredible friends and family, one specific organization, PCFLV has come to the rescue with their kindness and generosity to help him. From providing words of encouragement, prayers, and love to gift cards and a sense of belonging, PCFLV has touched our hearts in many, many ways. We are thankful and only hope that this world becomes cancer-free one day and that NO child fights the battle alone. Thank you PCFLV for your support.