The Heartbreak of Pediatric Cancer: Parents Share their Pictures and Stories

Penelope Ahmed: "Three things to keep in mind. Prayer, positivity and patience."

Cancer is a devastating disease, no matter who receives the diagnosis. But there is a particular cruelty when it occurs in children. Kids who were steadily growing without a care in the world are suddenly loaded down with the harsh realities of pediatric cancer, and their once bright futures become clouded with uncertainty. Parents suffer right along with their children, too; every session of chemotherapy, every course of radiation, every surgery breaks their hearts. All these parents want is for their children to go back to being happy and healthy, and if they could take on the pain of cancer themselves, they most certainly would.

Forty-three children are diagnosed with cancer every day, and each year, 12% of children die from the disease. Despite advancements in treatment care, there are still many children suffering. While they cannot advocate for themselves, their parents do all they can to support and care for them, and they’re now sharing their stories to show their hardships and triumphs.

Take Penelope Ahmed, for example. At the age of two, doctors found a cancerous tumor in her abdomen, which an MRI confirmed to be rhabdomyosarcoma. She underwent two surgeries (one to remove the tumor after it grew) as well as multiple rounds of chemo and radiation, which ended in April, 2018.

However, these obstacles have not prevented Penelope from being her sassy, fun-loving self. Her constant positivity and strength inspire her parents every day, and they continue to pray and have faith that their courageous daughter will live a cancer-free life. For now, though, they keep on smiling, just like Penelope.

*All of the pictures were submitted to Alex's Lemonade Stand.

Photo: Penelope Ahmed