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When Childhood Cancer Hits Close to Home: Our Friend Stefan’s Journey

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There are very few families that go unscathed from cancer’s ravages. When my husband was in his late-20s, he was diagnosed and underwent chemotherapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma. Since that time, we’ve had grandparents, uncles and aunts battle cancer but never have we had a childhood friend diagnosed…until now.

Did you know that childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children under the age of 15 in the United States?  September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and 15,780 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year, a diagnosis that turns the lives of the entire family upside down. 

My 9-year-old son’s friend Stefan returned to school like any other fourth grader. He’d had a summer crammed with travels, adventures and camps with his twin brother, Ian. Their mom Cindy had just purchased a new home and they had recently moved in. They were living a fun-loving and enviable life…until every parent’s worst nightmare happened: Stefan was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma.

I have been inspired by this wonderful family’s positive attitude. Cindy started a private Facebook group for friends and family to follow Stefan’s journey and with her permission, I am sharing part of their experience. 















Our thoughts and prayers are with Stefan and his family.  The objective of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is to put a spotlight on the types of cancer that largely affect children, survivorship issues, and – importantly – to help raise funds for research and family support. Go to the American Childhood Cancer Organization for more information on how you can help.


Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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  • comment avatar Wendy September 8, 2015

    Thank you to this family for sharing their story. My thoughts and prayers and with them.

  • comment avatar Lana September 8, 2015

    My nephew Zack had a tumor in his stomach area that was 6″ in size. The doctor at this point was 80% sure it was cancerous had surgery June 3rd to confirm the Dx and on June 9th we received all the test results back. Zack had Stage 4, Group 4, High Risk Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma. Zack was signed up for a COG clinical trial called ARST0531. He has 45 weeks of chemo and had 6 weeks of radiation that was completed on September 3. So far he is doing great.

  • comment avatar Candace September 8, 2015

    In mid-February 2013 I noticed a bump on my daughter Ava’s head. She was 8 at the time. I thought she must have just bumped it playing around with her brother but it never went away. Ava’s doctor and dermatologist both told me it was fine – a benign cyst. The doctor suggested leaving it alone but my husband and I decided we wanted it removed.We found out she had lymphoma and our battle is still on.

    Childhood cancer only receives 4% of federal cancer research funds? That’s just wrong!

    There have only been two new drugs developed in the last 20 years to treat childhood cancer, because it’s not profitable enough? There needs to be a change.

    I watch my daughter and other kids with cancer and I just can’t accept that some of them might not make it. It’s not fair, and it’s not right. Kids deserve more funding.

  • comment avatar Rachael Pineiro September 8, 2015

    My nephew was diagnosed with AML last November. The good news is he is in remission now, but the journey to get there has been long and difficult. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your while family as you continue along your journey to being cancer-free! Oh, and September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month. Go gold to support funding and research for pediatric cancer!

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