By Amy Rodriguez Ricabal – mother of a childhood cancer survivor, CureSearch supporter and childhood cancer advocate
This Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we are encouraging supporters to share their stories in answer to the question, “Why Research?”. For Amy Rodriguez Ricabal, the answer is her daughter, Natalia. This is her story.
In August 2013, at the tender age of 8, my daughter, Natalia Sofia, was diagnosed with localized Ewing sarcoma of her femur bone. In addition to limb salvage surgery, she endured an intense chemotherapy regimen for a year and radiation treatments every day for a month. By the grace of God, she has overcome cancer and has been cancer-free for 60 months! But, due to antiquated, harsh cancer treatments, she is now battling the late effects of treatment.
Natalia underwent an intense regimen of five toxic agents as well as radiation and she is battling the effects of her treatment daily. Other children are battling secondary cancers caused by their treatments. There are many side effects from these too-toxic drugs–sadly, some children end up dying from organ system failure or some other disease developed from the treatment itself.
Our family supports CureSearch because we need better funding for childhood cancer research. We need more kid-friendly drugs that target cancer cells with fewer side effects, not treatments for adults that are too toxic for their little bodies. That’s why we actively support CureSearch via the Tampa Bay CureSearch Walk. We walk in memory of the children who didn’t survive and for the health of every child battling cancer now and in the future.
Before my daughter’s diagnosis, I knew nothing about childhood cancer. Now that I have been pushed into this world, it is my calling to make others aware. More awareness means more funding. More funding leads to better medications and treatments for these children. They deserve a better outcome–a real chance at a promising future, not a future of doctor’s offices, surgeries, procedures or worse.
For 30 years, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer has worked tirelessly to accelerate the development of new, less-toxic children’s cancer treatments, including a promising new treatment for the cancer that Natalia Sofia was stricken with – Ewing sarcoma. Learn more about the progress we are making thanks to the support of volunteers and advocates like Amy Rodriguez Ricabal.
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