Pandemic is adding stress for families fighting childhood cancer

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Dayton Children’s Hospital said about 60 kids are diagnosed with cancer every year in the Greater Dayton area.

This year, the pandemic has added a lot more stress for these patients and their families.

Visitors are limited during chemo treatments and the added worry about contracting COVID-19 because of their weakened immune systems are just two of the added stresses these families are experiencing.

Samantha Wiley was diagnosed with a brain tumor at three years old. The now-teenager has undergone multiple surgeries since then.

“Last year, around September or October, I started my chemo treatment because they saw it was growing again and then I actually just finished my chemo last month, August 14,” said Wiley.

She said for months, she did not see family members, many who normally accompanied her to treatments.

“I was very isolated when it came to being in my home all the time, not going out, and even my family, I have a sister who’s a year and half younger than me, and she wasn’t allowed to go out either because they couldn’t risk me getting sick,” said Wiley.

Dr. Ayman El-sheikh with Dayton Children’s Hospital said during the pandemic, they have changed a number of policies for pediatric cancer patients.

“Also changed some of the things like the play area for the kids and their ability to interact because of social distancing, so all of that has been limited for them too,” said El-Sheikh.

He added, “At the beginning of the pandemic, there was some reluctance from most of the patients to come to the hospital, they are trying to make sure they don’t catch anything.”

Wiley and her mom, Deborah, said staying positive is the best way to fight childhood cancer. But if you can donate time or money, a little can go a long way.

“The more research they do, each time they have more to offer treatment wise,” said Deborah Wiley.

Samantha added that maybe the best way you can help during Childhood Cancer Awareness month this year is wear a mask.

“Be considerate, and also think about everything everyone else has to go through, especially a child with cancer that can get sick so easily,” said Wiley.

Deborah said they are continuing to monitor Sam’s condition, but were relieved to see the MRI scan that showed the yearlong chemo treatment did shrink her tumor.

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