Kezia Fitzgerald and her 15-month-old daughter Saoirse both received news this year that no one wants to hear: they have cancer.
Just eight months after giving birth to her first child, Fitzgerald discovered that the swollen lymph nodes in her neck that had been bothering her since she was pregnant were a sign of stage-three Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Then, in May, her baby girl was diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma. It was discovered, as reported by CNN, when Saoirse woke up one morning, “… and her eyes were swollen. Her eyelids were black and blue and yellow, like she had been hit on both eyes.”
London’s Daily Mail reports that the two cancers are not linked and were not passed on from mother to daughter.
Both have undergone chemotherapy as part of their treatment. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Fitzgerald, 27, spoke about how her own experience with cancer helps her understand what her daughter is going through: “It does make it a little bit easier to keep on top of side effects because I know what she feels like.”
Fitzgerald learned that on September 7 that she is in full remission, but Saoirse’s treatment continues. She is recovering from a recent surgery to remove her adrenal glands, and must also undergo a stem cell transplant in January.
The family has created a blog called New Mom … New Cancer in which Fitzgerald, a photographer, writes about both her and her daughter’s treatment, and also promotes awareness of pediatric cancer.
“Help spread the word about pediatric cancer and share our story with others that you know. 46 children are diagnosed with cancer every day, and 7 will lose their fight. Approximately 700 kids will be diagnosed with Neuroblastoma this year, and nearly 50% of them will not survive. Most children have advanced disease that has spread by the time they are diagnosed. Pediatricians need to be more aware of what to look for and what the EARLY symptoms are, so that disease can be caught while it is still treatable.”
We’re happy to spread the word here. The symptoms of neuroblastoma, a common infant cancer typically diagnosed at around 18 months of age, are:
- abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits
- a lump or mass in the abdomen, chest, neck, or pelvis
- limping, inability to stand, stumbling
- changes to the eyes, including drooping eyelids, bulging eyes, or dark circles that look like bruises around the eyes
- bone pain
Photo credit: New Mom … New Cancer Blog