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Local Voice: What is it Like for a Kid with Cancer?

Sydney encourages us to rally around Pediatric Cancer Month.

Editor’s Note: Sydney Becker, a Heritage Middle School 8th grader, was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. She’s determined to kick this cancer, her courage shining in her journal. Sydney writes on CaringBridge.org, a nonprofit organization that provides free websites to help family and friends share information and support. (You can read Sydney's journal here). Today, Sydney encourages us to rally around Pediatric Cancer Month as she describes her latest round of chemo and physical therapy.

Pozdrav. moj ljubimac paun out je košenje na travnjak u žutom ronjenje odijelo.

In case you are not fluent in the language, I just spoke to you in Croatian. I said, "Hello. My pet peacock is out mowing the lawn in a yellow scuba diving suit."

Today was better than yesterday. Not good, but better. I was extremely exhausted, and wouldn't you know that I have PT first thing in the morning. She gave me lots of things to work on at home. It seems like every time I come she adds another exercise or stretch to my home PT. It's a lot, especially during chemo.

But afternoon was a little better. My chemo level was 24,000. This is considerably better than the last time I had chemo, it was somewhere in the 30,000s. I have to be under 100 by Thursday.

Now that I'm not feeling as awful, there are only a few things that I mind about being at the hospital: The smell of everything, peeing in a hat, and food restrictions. I don't know why, but the smell of everything at the hospital just makes me sick.

When I say "pee in a hat," I don't mean literally using a baseball hat as my toilet. There’s a weird plastic thing that goes under the toilet seat and has markings on it to measure my pee. When we're at the hospital, we have to then pour it into another thing and wait for a nurse to come take it so it can get tested for the amount of acid in it. (I can't have acidic things.)

At the Ronald McDonald House, we have to put it in the hat, and then test it ourselves with little pieces of paper and see how acidic it is with the colors that show up on it. I know that was probably really gross and impossible to follow, and probably a little too much information as well. But, now you (sort of) know what I mean about hats. When they're new and clean, my dad will often put one upside down on his head because it looks like a Pilgrim hat, if you have a wide imagination.

During this chemo week, I can't have anything acidic, citrus, or citric acid. At first I was just like, oh OK whatever, but you don't realize how restricted that is! Pretty much every flavored drink in the universe has citric acid as one of its first ingredients. So I'm pretty much limited to water, milk, and coffee. It wouldn't be so bad, if I wasn't being forced to drink all the time. That makes it hard because there's nothing good to drink!

Anyway on to the food. It's very hard because lots of foods you wouldn't expect that I am not allowed to have. Nothing with tomato sauce at all. Which is upsetting because my three favorite foods in the whole world are pizza, baked ziti, and tortilla chips with salsa. (I have lots of other favorite foods too, but those are my top 3, in order.) And of course all 3 of them contain lots of tomato. It is very frustrating, especially when they BBQ at the Ronald, which happens a LOT. They will say, "Do you want any ketchup or mustard?" And I am thinking, "Oh yes, how lovely some ketchup would be on my hamburger!" But then I say, "no, thank you." And eat my sad, dry hamburger.

Since September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month, we have put up posters at the following stores: , , , , , and . If you shop at any of these stores, ask them about a donation card to . If you see a poster, I am in the top row, third from the left. If you live in another town and want to put up some posters around your town, please e-mail me immediately with your address so I can send them out as soon as possible @ sydney616@comcast.net.

PS: I forgot to mention, I'm working on getting off my crutch in PT! I AM SO HAPPY. It's been over eight looooooooooooooong long months with them, and I got past done with them a while ago. Now I just have to regain some balance, strength, and a good pattern so I can actually be done with them. IT'S ABOUT TIME!

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