My son, Jason Ethier is a survivor of childhood cancer. In 1987 at 2 years of age he was diagnosed with T-Cell Leukemia. To cure the cancer Jason received chemotherapy for 30 months and radiation to his brain. The cure came, the cancer is gone, but the cure came with a huge price.
Today Jason is a young man and faces challenges with the late effects of cancer treatment. The radiation treatments have impacted his life in a major way as Jason has a brain injury that affects his memory, attention and learning. Living with a brain injury that has made school work difficult and caused employment issues for Jason.
Jason also has other side effects from treatments, hormone replacement therapy and sterility. Jason is being monitored yearly for heart damage from the drug Adriamycin and secondary malignancies such as a brain tumor. Recent studies have identified children who received cranial radiation as part of their treatment are at risk of early onset dementia as early as 37 years of age.
Yet in spite of the medical challenges in Jason’s life he wants to share his story of hope and courage with you. Just like most young adults Jason has hope and dreams. He wants a home, a family and a job with a good wage to be able to provide for his family.
“It is my hope that my story of survival will inspire you in some way. I want to use my story to increase awareness of childhood cancer and the late effects of treatment. I want to improve my quality of life and I could use your help. I would also like to help other survivors of childhood cancer who face challenges like me.” Jason Ethier
Advances to the treatment of childhood cancer have made it possible for many children to be cured of their cancer. For approximately 2/3 of these survivors their cure came with a price. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments can interfere with a child’s normal growth and development and often leave the survivor to face lifelong medical and psychosocial challenges. Some of these side effects include heart, lung or kidney damage, fertility issues, and neurocognitive impairment.
Childhood cancer survivors not only have medical issues but also have poorer economic outcomes. Studies have shown that compared to their siblings childhood cancer survivors have higher rates of unemployment and if they do work their income is lower than that of their siblings. It is imperative that these survivors have opportunities to live to their full potential.
Childhood cancer survivors who have late effects of treatment need advocates to help improve their quality of life.
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