Children can get breast cancer. I'm having a hard time with this. Breast cancer has been on my mind even more than usual lately. With Breast Cancer Awareness month coming up in October, I have a number of friends who are in this year's Avon Walk For Breast Cancer.
But yesterday I came across this story of a 4-year-old breast cancer survivor, Aleisha Hunter, and it’s consumed me ever since.
The adorable Aleisha of Ontario has hapless prestige of being Canada’s youngest breast cancer survivor. Until now, I had no idea that little girls could even get the disease. Although the words “breast cancer survivor” are magnificently better than “breast cancer fatality,” I still never want to see the words “4-year-old” and “breast cancer” together again.
Indeed, the condition is rare in girls so young. According to a doctor on Aleisha’s surgery team, she is one of “a handful of cases in the literature that has been reported.” Aleisha’s primary doctor went even further with the reassurances:
“Certainly the cases are not, to my knowledge, increasing in frequency. I don't think it's something that parents as a rule have to have any particular concern about.”
Thankfully Aleisha bypassed chemo -- her cancer had not spread post-surgery. At first, when she overheard her mother describe the procedure to a friend, she declared, “They aren’t cutting my booby out.” Alas, in addition to losing breast tissue, she lost her nipple, areola, and lymph nodes under her arm.
Aleisha took her tiny legs to the streets over the weekend and marched with other survivors and families for a cure. Her mother, Melanie Hunter, remarked, “I think her being involved in these walks and events and being around all of the other survivors, she's going to have a concept of why and what happened, and not go ‘Oh wait, there's something different about me.' I think that really helps.”
Stay strong, Aleisha. And may yours be the last case of breast cancer in any kid!
Image via Facebook