By Carolina Boyd, Communications Associate
Winderlyon Hebert knew something was wrong when her four-year-old son Kaleb started complaining of leg pain.
“He had been complaining of pain for about a week. I would rub his leg and it would temporarily relieve his pain. However, as the complaints increased, he began to develop a temperature,” said Hebert, Director of Therapy Services for Legacy Community Health.
A trip to his pediatrician led to bloodwork and numerous tests. Eventually, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoid Leukemia. The news was difficult for Hebert to hear.
“I had to gather myself because it felt like the world had just stopped,” she said.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The month-long observance recognizes young patients, like Kaleb, and their families, affected by childhood cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, about 10,500 children in the United States under the age-of-15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2021.
After accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-to-14. Leukemias, which are cancers of the bone marrow and blood, are the most common childhood cancers. They account for about 28 percent of all cancers in children. Thanks to better therapies, more than 80 percent of U.S. childhood cancer patients now become long-term survivors. Raising awareness about childhood cancers will help to increase funding for research that will ultimately help in the fight against these diseases.
“It’s Important that people know how frequently childhood cancers occur. Working at Legacy, I have learned of the impact these cancers have had in the lives of our patients and staff,” said Hebert. “It really drives home the need for more research and funding.”
During the month of September, Hebert is encouraging everyone to wear gold in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It has been a tradition since 1997, when a group of parents (whose children had been impacted by cancer) chose gold to represent childhood cancer. Every year supporters around the world have “gone gold” to show their support for these young cancer warriors and heroes.
Kaleb underwent more than three years of treatment before receiving his last dose of chemotherapy in 2014. He remained in remission until he relapsed in May of 2021, one day before his 14th birthday. He is once again in remission but must undergo treatment for the next two years. As a result, Kaleb began his first year of high school learning from home.
Hebert says her son’s optimistic attitude during his cancer battle has given her the strength to get through this difficult time. It’s one of the reasons why she wants to guide other families who are facing the same challenges.
“I want families to know that when it comes to childhood cancers, it is important that they advocate for their children’s health,” said Hebert. “Listen to them when they tell you they are not feeling well or are in pain. Most of all, be persistent and educate yourself about childhood cancers.”
If you notice your child experiencing sudden or unexplained pain, reach out to your Legacy provider for help. Call 832-548-5000 to schedule an appointment. To learn more about childhood cancers, visit the American Cancer Society’s website.
Image Courtesy of Winderlyon Hebert