12 Years Old at Diagnosis
In the fall of 2009 when he was 12 years old, Beau Swallow began complaining of back pain. Basketball season had just started, so his doctors believed it to be a muscle strain from practice. The pain persisted and increased as the weeks went on. Three weeks later, Beau couldn’t bear it any more. His family took him back to the doctor, where x-rays were performed. His doctors noticed an abnormality, and ordered more tests. His family was shocked to learn that Beau had stage IV Ewing sarcoma that had spread to his chest and lungs.
At Children’s National Medical Center, his doctors immediately began high-dose chemotherapy, but Beau’s tumors continued to grow. A new type of chemotherapy was administered and a change was noticed in Beau’s tumors. Beau was able to have surgery to remove the tumors that were causing him so much pain. The surgery lasted hours and was successful, but did require that Beau have two ribs and part of a lung removed due to tumor invasion.
Beau underwent 23 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery between the fall of 2009 and August of 2011. In December of 2012, Beau underwent scoliosis surgery to correct a severe spine curve that was a result of radiation to his chest. It was all worth it because he just reached 3 years with no evidence of disease!
Today, Beau is a 16-year-old avid runner who competes on his school’s track and cross country teams. His parents were amazed at his tenacity throughout treatment. Despite the side effects of treatment, Beau now lives life as a normal teenager. Beau continues to fight for other children undergoing cancer treatment by sharing his stories with others and participating in the Northern Virginia CureSearch Walk.
Beau Swallow Update: October 2016
“Today I am doing well, just studying hard and enjoying college.
My family supports CureSearch because we saw firsthand how the funding went directly to Ewing sarcoma funding rather than into marketing, which is what some other organizations do. I wish that people knew how underfunded childhood cancer research was. Children only make up 4% of the government’s cancer funding and children are definitely more than 4% of the population.
My advice to a child with cancer is to use the cancer perks. I had the opportunity to attend Camp Fantastic, a camp for childhood cancer patients, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. My make-a-wish to Disney World was also a cancer perk that allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream.
Some might assume that their voice will not be heard, but if everyone simultaneously raises their voice, then the call to action becomes louder and louder and harder to ignore.”
Want more stories like this?
Get emails that matter, when it matters.