Two weeks ago, the world grieved over the loss of Talia Joy Castellano, the Cover Girl endorser and DIY make-up Internet celebrity who lost her battle with 2 forms of cancer.
Talia had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2007, it’s a rare childhood cancer, that had her undergo different kinds of therapies and treatments. She beat and relapsed the disease multiple times over the last 6 six years. Later on she was also diagnosed with preleukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome, that develops into leukemia.
Talia is not the only patient to have contracted both cancers at a young age. Cancer.org has estimated 700 new cases of neuroblastoma each year- and the numbers are growing. Most patients who undergo treatment to fight the first cancer they contract are always anemic and have been having transfusions. As the anemia and lowering of the immune system sets in, the myelodyplastic syndrome happens.
This is a malignant tumor that develops from nerve tissue and is most commonly diagnosed in infants and children.
Neuroblastoma develops from the tissues that form the sympathetic nervous system – the part of the nervous system that controls body functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and levels of certain hormones.
This condition begins mostly in the abdomen in the adrenal gland or next to the spinal cord, or in the chest. This can spread to the bones, such as in the skull, pelvis, face, arms, legs and shoulders, as well as to the bone marrow, lymph nodes, liver and skin.
Neuroblastoma is a rare type of cancer that affects around 100 children each year in the United Kingdom and 700 new cases in the United States. This occurs to 1 out of 100,000 children and is slightly more common in boys.
The first symptoms of neuroblastoma are:
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
Other symptoms include the following, but they depend on the location of the tumor:
- rapid pulse
- flushed, red skin
- profuse sweating
- pale skin and bluish color around the eyes
- enlarged abdomen
- difficulty breathing or a chronic cough
- bone pain or tenderness
Preleukemia (myelodysplastic syndrome)
Also referred to as myelodysplastic syndrome, preleukemia is a medical condition that develops when something happens to change normal blood cell production.
When a person suffers from this, their bone marrow has stopped producing healthy normal blood cells. Eventually, the defective cells build up and start to outnumber the body’s healthy cells.
Scientists have not yet developed a cure for preleukemia but have found out a component that may be causing the syndrome in cancer patients who have gone through checmotherapy and radiation. Preleukemia may go unnoticed since there are no symptoms during the disease’s early symptoms. Over time, the symptoms that may develop are:
- shortness of breath
- may bruise easily
- may have more infections than the average person
Since the patient’s bone marrow fails to create healthy blood cells, medications and treatments that could help increase the number of healthy blood cells are prescribed. Blood transfusion, for one, is done to replace unhealthy blood cells.
There are some cases where patients undergo bone marrow transplants, a procedure to replace damaged bone marrow with a new, healthy bone marrow stem cells. However, this procedure also involves using drugs that destroy unhealthy blood cells.
Neuroblastoma and Preleukemia are two of the many cancers that affect children and most often take away their lives.
Funding and research for pediatric cancer is in trickles compared to other cancer research or even pediatric AIDS.
- Notice anything WRONG here?!
In 2012 there was an estimated 1,340 pediatric cancer patients who succumb to the sickness despite the chemotherapy and treatments. Cancer is a child’s deadliest illness as it is the leading killer of children 0 age to their late teens.
Even if there is now an 80% survival for children struck with pediatric cancer, more research and funding are needed to keep the flywheel going.
We, at BloodBanker, hope that there would be more funding for childhood cancer studies to help more children survive their respective battle and eventually live a normal life. Click at the links below to see how as a nation we are not doing enough in keeping future generations from getting killed by cancer.
Childhood Cancer Awareness:
Do us a BIG favor, read the numbers here: key statistics to childhood cancer. Take a look at a snapshot of pediatric cancer. Please take an interest in the Appropriation bill 2013. Ask the world’s childhood cancer experts what can be done and HELP.