Monthlong campaign spreads awareness about childhood cancer

Amelia Knopp , Senior Staff Writer

When I think about September of 2021, last moments of normalcy come to mind. I picture myself marching in the Big Blue Marching Band, running at cross country meets and studying diligently for tests. 

Then, in October, my life changed. Chemotherapy appointments, hospital stays and days of pain and sickness have replaced any semblance of normalcy over the last 10 months as I fight B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL. 

Therefore, this year, the month of September shoulders a completely new meaning for me and my family. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer. 

In light of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I spoke to some other MHS students whose lives have been impacted by pediatric cancer.

Sophomore Tate Reid was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2015, at age eight. For Tate, September is a time for reflection over his cancer experience. 

“It shows me how lucky I am, that I’m here right now and I’m doing well and I’m healthy,” Tate said. 

Tate wishes that people understood how prevalent childhood cancer really is and how it affects children.  

“It’s super hard, especially the beginning stages, because they instantly put you on chemo and it just destroys your body,” Tate said. “You’re super weak and you have weekly appointments, and it just drags you down physically and mentally.” 

Despite the fact that Tate is currently out of treatment, cancer continues to impact his life. 

“When you have [a fellow cancer patient] that’s really close to you, that’s going through the same thing that you are, but they don’t make it, that’s one of the hardest things,” Tate shared. 

Sophomore Ellie Felzien also received an ALL diagnosis at the age of five. 

“[Cancer] affects more than yourself, it affects your family, school, community and friends,” Ellie said. “But it also brings people together. I’ve been so fortunate to have met so many wonderful people throughout my journey.”

Ellie is part of Children’s Mercy’s Survive and Thrive Program, meaning that she is over two years out from her last dose of chemotherapy. However, yearly oncologist visits are still emotionally difficult. 

“Even though I have a small chance of relapsing, I still get anxious when going to lab visits,” she said. 

If I could tell everyone one thing about cancer, I would emphasize that it is so much more than what meets the eye. Words can’t convey the suffering, strength, despair and hope that I have seen in the waiting room of the pediatric oncology ward. Childhood cancer is much more than hair loss, nausea, and doctor’s appointments. By sharing our stories, I hope to educate our MHS community about the mountainous trial that is childhood cancer, as well as honor those who have endured, and are enduring, the fight.