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!
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; lots of blood has been taken and numerous biopsies have been done. I wish that part of the last 7 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 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 like everyone else. But 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 on my varsity high school team and play with 2 travel soccer clubs along with being a soccer referee.
7 years after being told I had cancer, I still see numerous doctors, have 6-month checkups, tests, scans, bloodwork, sometimes biopsies and unfortunately have had a few scares that my cancer returned. 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 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.
HELP SPREAD AWARENESS FOR ALL CHILDREN BATTLING CANCER. ONE SMALL STEP WILL LEAD TO GREAT THINGS AHEAD. THANK YOU.
(Picture provided by Bender Photography)
Written by Tommy