Childhood Cancer Awareness – Serena’s Story

SerenaIn honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness month, SFA would like to share the story of one family’s battle with pediatric sarcoma.  Serena is a 16-year-old who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at age 12.  This past August 14 marked the 4th anniversary of her diagnosis.  On that day, Serena’s mom, Lynn, updated the “Team Serena” Facebook page with a post sharing her thoughts on how sarcoma has changed their lives forever.  Here is their story in her own words:

I wanted to share with you what’s on my mind today, is where we were four years ago. We went to Children’s to find out what we had already feared. We met with a “team” of doctors and nurses, and we wheeled Serena in the room.  She sat up on the bed as Dr. Meany gave her and us the news, “you have cancer.” I remember the look on Serena’s face.  It was the look of fear and I couldn’t take it away.  I saw the tears well up in her eyes and I was helpless. I told her I would give anything to trade places with her if I could. That I wished I could take it away from her. She wanted to know if she would lose her hair and if she would be ok. No 12-year-old should ever ask those questions. Dr. Meany did her best to explain to Serena about what they would do to fight the cancer, but before they could do it they had to do more tests on her.  Her father and I were taken into a different room, while Serena stayed and talked to her social worker, her uncle, and one of her favorite doctors that she called “Nemo.” My head was a mess. My eyes were filled with tears. They explained how it was one of two cancers, but they weren’t sure which one until they ran more tests. They went over how harsh the chemos were and what they had hoped for.  I even had one of the doctors tell me that he was going to “fix her.”

Four years ago today, I heard those words – “Your child has cancer.” Our lives have been turned upside down ever since. There is nothing “normal” any longer. The things that we once knew, we can never go back to. My daughter’s cancer has forever changed me. I cherish each day that I have been given with her, for it’s a GIFT. The treatment for Ewing’s is harsh…there are no other words for it. To watch your child go through something like that…the only words are heartbreaking.

Serena with her mother, Lynn
Serena with her mother, Lynn

I remember going back to Children’s after the testing on Serena and they saying that she had Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone and soft tissue cancer. On August 28, Serena went in for surgery for her port placement and to get her first round of chemotherapy. I remember her tears as she woke up and how hard it was for her to move her neck. I remember her fears too. I would share with you her feelings, but those are too painful. She had tubes everywhere. All it is just too much for a child to deal with. And us parents – well, we will forever remember these days…or nightmares.

Some people like to mark this anniversary with a party or celebration.  But to me, this is NOT a celebration. This was one of the worst days in my life. I will not STOP fighting till there is a CURE!!! I will keep bringing AWARENESS for CHILDHOOD CANCERS!!! And I will continue to CHERISH each and every day I have with Serena. She is my life and my world. Four years ago brought heartache and pain and a whirlwind of things…it changed me. I can never go back to who I was before my child had cancer.  All I can do is FIGHT for her and other children.

Serena with M2G
Serena was there with Miles 2 Give as they reached the Atlantic Ocean

One has to stay positive when fighting cancer.  They can never give up hope and they can never get depressed.  Even when things seem at their worst, we must stay positive.  Serena got through cancer with the help of her friends, her family and with the help of the wonderful Art Therapist at Children’s.  Through Serena’s fight with Ewing’s Sarcoma, she figured out what she wants to be when she grows up: an art therapist.

No matter what, you have to have hope. Hope for the future…hope to keep fighting even when you want to give up or when your child has had enough.  When Serena was too tired to fight, I fought for her.  When she broke down (which was only once during the whole treatment) I wanted to fight even harder for her.  I watched her go through something that no child should EVER go through.  I became a better person because of my daughter and her strength to fight Ewing’s Sarcoma.

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Serena and Crystal
Serena with her “honorary” big sister, Crystal
dusty and Serena
Serena and best friend, Dusty