Luke Child’s Cancer Story

April 1-7th was Adolescent and Young Adults Cancer Awareness Week! Our new Development Associate, Luke Child is sharing his story this month to help us raise awareness for AYA Cancer! Read his story below:
I first started feeling some slight pain in my back and shoulder around Oct./Nov. of 2020 as if I had just slept wrong the night before. That progressed into much more severe pain around Thanksgiving, and I was essentially on bedrest for about a month because the pain was much worse when I was upright. We went to doctors’ appointments and a spine specialist several times but didn’t get any answers. Finally, I was in enough pain shortly before Christmas of 2020 that it had progressed to an emergency situation, but the soonest MRI I could get was set for late January. The morning after the MRI was scheduled, a snowstorm was expected, and a time slot opened up for the following day due to a cancellation.
The night before my MRI, I became dizzy and unsteady on my feet, but we assumed it was due to a new pain medication that had been prescribed. By the next morning, I could barely walk to the MRI machine. The MRI revealed a tennis ball sized tumor in my spine, and we were immediately sent to the emergency room where we met a neurosurgeon who informed us that I was a few hours away from complete paralysis and would be having emergency surgery that night.
They removed enough tumor to save my spine that night, and I spent the next month waiting for an official diagnosis and learning to walk again. At that point, I still was not receiving cancer treatments, and the tumor grew back quickly enough to cause my spine to collapse and result in a second emergency surgery. After that surgery, I was officially diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and quickly referred to Johns Hopkins where they began chemo asap. I had 18 cycles of chemo, 5-6 weeks of radiation, and a third surgery to fully remove the tumor and reconstruct my spine.
After treatment finished in April of 2022, I was in remission for slightly less than a year before an old spot from the first time began to grow in my lungs in March/April of 2023. It was quickly removed, but I still was required to undergo 12 more cycles of chemo. I finished my last dose a couple days before Christmas of 2023, and my scans have been clear ever since!
Ever since my initial diagnosis, I have fundraised with various organizations to further cancer research, and I have raised around $60,000 since Dec. 2020. Additionally, I have used my experiences with cancer to connect with and encourage other young cancer patients and survivors.  I have made good friends doing this, and I actually met my fiancée because of cancer as well (her brother is a cancer survivor)!
Cancer is a horrible thing, but some of the best things in my life are here because I had cancer, so I could never regret that it happened to me.