Bradley Lowery, the 6-year old with neuroblastoma who stole all of England’s hearts with his bright, brave smile, lost his battle with cancer on July 7, 2017. (1)
In 2013, at just 18 months old, Bradley Lowery was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, the most common cancer outside the brain in children. After two grueling years of chemotherapy, Bradley was announced to be in remission, only to have his cancer return in June of 2016 and become terminal soon after. (1)
During Bradley’s battle with cancer, the young Sunderland Football Club (a British Premiere League Soccer Team in England) became a mascot not only for Sunderland, but also for the English National Team. He represented both teams at several games, and struck up a deep bond and friendship with his favorite player, Jermain Defoe. (1)
When Bradley’s cancer returned, his only treatment option was an expensive antibody treatment in America. Thanks to Bradley’s fame across the country, the family raise 700,000 pounds to help his fight, but unfortunately in December of last year Bradley was only given a few months to live. Upon receiving this news, Bradley’s mom updated his Facebook page, writing: (1)
“I’m devastated to let you know that his cancer has continued to grow.”
“We have been meeting with Bradley’s consultant and he has given us three options, but they all have the same outcome and that is Bradley will lose this fight.”
“I honestly have no words for how heartbroken I am right now.”
In the days before his death, he had a “bedside party”, that included his family, cousins, friends, and of course his best pal and famous British soccer player, Jermain Defoe. When speaking of his first meeting and close bond with Bradley, Jermain said: (1)
“I think probably from that moment, it was sort of overwhelming.
“And that sort of love he gave me from day one was just a great feeling.”
A few days after that, Bradley became unresponsive, and then quietly passed in his parents arms and surrounded by his family. (1)
“He was our little superhero and put the biggest fight up but he was needed else where.
“There are no words to describe how heart broken we are. Thank you everyone for all your support and kind words.
“Sleep tight baby boy and fly high with them angels.” His mother wrote on social media.
Within fifteen minutes of announcing his passing, the family received 35,000 messages of condolence. He was loved for his continual smile and happy demeanor, despite the horrible disease that he fought for most of his life. (1)
Bradley’s fundraising page is still open for donations to go towards helping other kids fighting cancer. (1)
Over 10,000 children under the age of 15 were diagnosed with cancer in North America in 2016, with childhood cancer rates slowly rising over the last few decades. Cancer is the second leading cause of death among children behind accidents. Survival rates are around 80%, however this depends on the type of cancer, the stage when diagnosed, and the treatments available.
These are the most common childhood cancers: (3)
Neuroblastoma is a cancer that starts in the immature/early form of nerve cells, called neuroblasts, in a developing fetus. It occurs when the neuroblasts change and stop growing and behaving normally. Neuroblastoma most commonly affects children under the age of 5, and is the most common form of cancer for children under a year old. It usually begins in the adrenal glands, however it can also start in the spinal cord, chest, or pelvis. (2, 3)
Symptoms of neuroblastoma include: (2, 3)
Pain and swelling in the location of the tumor
Loss of appetite and weight loss
Weakness and difficulty walking
Leukemias are cancers of the blood and bone marrow and are the most common childhood cancers, accounting for 30% of all cancers in children. Acute leukemias can grow extremely rapidly and need to be treated with chemotherapy immediately.
Symptoms of leukemia include: (3, 4)
Bone and joint pain
Weakness and fatigue
Bleeding and bruising
Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors
The second most common childhood cancers, about 26% of all those diagnosed, are tumors of the brain and central nervous system. They vary widely in types and the treatment for each is different. While most adult brain tumors start in upper parts of the brain, childhood brain tumors usually begin to grow in the lower parts.
Symptoms include: (3)
Headaches, nausea, and vomiting
Blurred or double vision
Troubling walking and handling objects
Wilms Tumor or Nephroblastoma
Also known as a nephroblastoma, this tumor starts in one or on rare occasions in both of the kidneys. It is most commonly found in children between the ages of 3 and 4, and almost never in children over the age of 6.
Symptoms include: (3)
Swelling or a lump in the abdomen/stomach
Nausea and fever
Lymphomas start in the immune system cells, most often in the lymph nodes, tonsils and the thymus, and can effect the bone marrow and other organs. There are two main types: Hodgkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, with the later being the most common in children under 15.
Symptoms include: (3)
Tiredness and fatigue
Lumps in the neck, armpit, or groin
This type of childhood cancer starts in the cells that normally develop our skeletal muscles and allow us to move our bodies. It can appear in any part of the body, such as the belly, groin, head, neck, pelvis, and limbs. Symptoms include: (3)
Usually found in children under 2 years, retinoblastoma is cancer of the eye. Normally, when you shine a light into your child’s eye, the pupil appears red from the blood vessels at the back of the eye. With retinoblastoma, the pupil appears white or pink, and can even be seen in a photo from the flash of a camera. (3)
Though bone cancers can develop at any age, they are more common in older children and kids in their early teens. There are two types:(3)
Osteosarcoma: Most common in teens, in areas of bones that are growing rapidly, such as the ends of the long bones. Kids will experience bone pain and swelling that gets worse after physical activity and at night.(3)
Ewing sarcoma: Commonly found in young teens in the chest wall (ribs or shoulder blades), pelvic bones, or in the middle of the long bones. It also causes bone pain and swelling. (3)
The hearts of everyone at The Hearty Soul go out to the Lowery family and their devastating loss. If you can, send a message of support or make a donation to their foundation or another childhood cancer foundation to support the research and development to end child cancer.