The National Children’s Cancer Society
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Childhood Cancer Survivor Now Helps Other Kids Face the Disease
Heather is a two-time survivor of childhood cancer who understands the importance of helping others. A member of the National Children’s Cancer Society’s survivor family, Heather lives her life to help others, knowing that the help she and her parents received when she was sick made a tremendous difference in their lives.
St.Louis, MO – June 10, 2014 – Heather Cain is a happily married young woman, working in an elementary school as a speech pathologist. She devotes her days to children who have speech, sound and language disorders. Heather is a two-time survivor of childhood cancer who understands the importance of helping others. She lives her life to help others, knowing that the help she and her parents received when she was sick made a tremendous difference in their lives.
When Heather was just 10 years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Her father quit college, packed her in a car, and drove 3 1/2 hours from their small town to Salt Lake City’s only hospital treating pediatric cancer. They rented a tiny apartment and Heather began chemotherapy. Her mom stayed behind to maintain her job and medical benefits and care for Heather’s younger brother and sister.
Chemo made Heather very sick, and there were a couple of times she almost died, she recalled. She soon needed a bone marrow transplant; fortunately, her younger sister was a perfect match.
Heather went into remission and moved home, but 3 ½ years later her cancer recurred. Her dad took her back to Salt Lake City for additional treatment, including a stem cell transplant.
Since then, Heather remains cancer free, but has faced late affects from treatment, including graft host disease as her body rejected the stem cells, scleroderma (a stiffening of the joints caused by chemotherapy drugs), fatigue and chronic dry eye.
Survivors like Heather can get help with post-treatment challenges by using a Late Affects Assessment Tool developed by the Beyond the Cure, the National Children’s Cancer Society survivorship program, to help survivors identify the potential long-term effects of their specific disease and treatment. Additional articles about late affects and good health practices for childhood survivors can be found on the Information for Survivors page.
Today, Heather gives back to the NCCS because of the help they provided to her and her family when she was sick. Heather recently helped illustrate a children’s activity book the organization just published for children in treatment. Heather also donates her time to the NCCS Beyond the Cure program.
“Heather is a very special part of our NCCS family,” said Pam Gabris, coordinator of the NCCS’s Beyond the Cure program. “She’s a wonderful example of the relationship between the NCCS and a pediatric cancer family, and a terrific role model for the children and teens we’re supporting today.”
To learn more about the how the National Children’s Cancer Society helps children and families facing and conquering pediatric cancer, visit thenccs.org. For more information on the Beyond the Cure survivorship program, visit beyondthecure.org.