Mother Creates Awareness to Find a CureName: Ethan F. Hometown: Seminole, Florida Type of Cancer: Posterior Fossa Ependymoma
By Natalie (Ethan’s Mom)
My son, Ethan, was diagnosed with a posterior fossa brainstem ependymoma on September 3, 2013. Ethan had surgery to remove the mass and endured 33 rounds of daily radiation. Today, he is stable and being monitored with MRIs. I’ve been down this road once before with my mother. A brain tumor took her life while I was pregnant with Ethan. The doctors said it was a completely different tumor and unrelated genetically. What are the odds?
Ethan is my reason to keep going. He is my reason to breathe. It’s a completely different experience having a son with cancer versus my mother. As parents, we are supposed to protect our children. We are the ones who fix things and we make them better. But with something like this, you just can’t kiss it and make it better. You can’t just make it go away. I feel helplessness and I never thought cancer would affect MY son. You just don’t think of kids getting cancer and you definitely don’t think it will happen to your family.
Childhood Cancer Awareness
Ethan’s diagnosis stripped so much from our family but also opened our eyes and heart to a community we never knew existed. Our family had no idea there was a month, September, dedicated to childhood cancer until we became part of it. There were no gold ribbons flooding the shelves of stores, as you see in October for breast cancer awareness. I didn’t hear any commercials on TV or radio in support of childhood cancer. In fact, up until my child’s diagnosis I had never known or looked into the eyes of a child fighting cancer.
Now, I have seen so many children affected, and it’s heartbreaking. In a few short months after Ethan’s diagnosis, I attended a memorial for a three-year-old boy. These are babies! I’ve watched as parents in an online support group called Ependyparents, mourn the loss of their own. Our group has had a lot of loss during the short time since I have joined. You feel a family’s loss when they lose their child. You hurt with them, cry with them, you feel their pain and it cuts deep.
I can’t sit back and do nothing, not when there are children losing their lives – not when one of my very own is at risk for losing his. That is why, with three other ependymoma moms, we are planning music events throughout the nation in the summer of 2015 called Rock Away Kids Cancer. The day before my son’s diagnosis I was not a cancer parent either. I urge everyone to get involved and make a difference. Awareness helps fund research that will one day fund a cure!