Surviving Childhood Cancer



Surviving Childhood Cancer
By: Wendy Ray

CHARLESTON, MO --There's good news and bad news about childhood cancer.

The good news is, the cure rate for such cancers is very high, almost 80 percent
, but the effects of childhood cancer can still be felt even later in life. A new study brings the bad news, that almost half of childhood cancer survivors have significant health problems as adults, and female cancer survivors suffer more problems than males. Yet the study also says that these cancer survivors are thriving on the power of positive thinking. That's how Rachelle Johnson of Charleston, who battled cancer as a child, lives her life today. She's happy and healthy.
"Usually when they say cancer you think I'm going to die, that's what I thought at 17. I cried three days straight," Rachelle says. It's been 16 years since a lump on Rachelle's neck prompted doctors to take a look, it was Hodgkin's Disease. A senior in high school at the time, Rachelle went to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis for radiation treatments. "They gave me two alternatives, keep my spleen and give me extra radiation treatments or remove my spleen and keep me in the hospital," she says. Rachelle chose to keep her spleen, which meant she was able to go to her senior prom, where she was named prom queen. It's been a few years since those glory days. She's 33 now and a dietician at the Mississippi County Health Department, but for Rachelle her bout with cancer is never far from her thoughts. "It's something you always have on your mind because you do have a high risk of developing a second type of cancer," Rachelle says. She has had a few health problems since then. The radiation she received was only in a small area of her body. "My chest was the main area it was found, the cancer was starting to go down the chest, it actually killed my thyroid," she says. Rachelle has hypothyroidism as a result, she has to take a pill a day to keep it under control. But she says it's no big deal, she's just happy the cancer is behind her. "I think you take more appreciation of what you have and you live as much as you can."
Rachelle's life is going to get a little more full in a few months. She and her husband are expecting a baby. She's 12 weeks along.