Mikayla Sweeny
Stage 3 Wilms Tumor

5 Years Old at Diagnosis

On September 18, 2007, the ground under my family's feet began to crumble with the devastating diagnosis of my five-year-old daughter, Mikayla, with stage 3 Wilms tumor (kidney cancer). A major surgery to excise the tumor along with a complete nephrectomy, a week of radiation, and seven months of three different chemotherapies would ultimately save her life. With all these treatments and invasive procedures, my daughter has been left physically and emotionally scarred and will most likely endure long term side effects and the fear of relapse as well as secondary cancers.

After helping my daughter fight cancer and educating myself about this disease by talking to other parents, reading various cancer books, becoming involved with CureSearch and advocating for more research and funding, I still was naive enough to think that childhood cancer was a rare disease. I was wrong. In the past year, my husband and I have known four children who have been diagnosed with cancer whose parents we have either grown up with or gone to high school with. There are five women (including myself) who all grew up in the South side of Downers Grove and graduated high school within four years of each other that have had girls diagnosed with abdominal tumors in the past few years. Three with Wilms Tumor, one with liver cancer and one with Burkitt's lymphoma in the large intestine. I have become increasingly concerned that childhood cancer is NOT rare and I will have to endure seeing more children I know fight this battle. Statistics tell us that one in five children diagnosed with cancer will die. Will that be one of the five of us? I cannot bear the thought...

After my daughter went off treatment in 2008 we immediately began to fight the disease not with medicine but advocacy and fundraising. We were introduced to CureSearch by other cancer parents and flew out to D.C. for Reach the Day where we advocated for more funding from our government officials. We came home, determined to bring a CureSearch Walk to Chicago and did just that. In the past three years we have raised $500,000 for Childhood Cancer research and will continue to do what we can until we can rest knowing that more children will not suffer the way our daughter did.

Every September our daughter turns another year older and we are filled with feelings of joy, healing and blessings...but we also remember that horrific September day she was diagnosed with cancer, honor all those who have, are and will fight childhood cancer and strive to make others aware while helping search for a cure.


 

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