Childhood Cancer Leaves Lasting Side Effects

URBANDALE, Iowa –Hearing your child is cancer free brings huge relief, but that doesn't mean their health problems are over.

Estella Backes is like any second grader. "I like to play with my friends at recess," she said.

But the active seven year-old was very sick well before starting school.

Mom Cari Backes said, "Within weeks went from a chubby two year-old to skinny, bald, sick looking child. So, it's definitely a life changing situation."

She was diagnosed with B-Cell Leukemia a week before her second birthday. "It made my hair go away. It made me have a bald head," said Estella.

She stayed in the hospital for two months after diagnosis and then went through two and a half years of treatment. Estella doesn't remember much from that time, but she continues to have lasting effects from it.

"She has some vision problems, so we do vision therapy," her mom said.

Treatment also left Estella's bones weak and brittle. She's had three broken legs from osteoporosis. She also has nerve damage from the chemotherapy. "Their bodies are so little and still developing and the chemos are so harsh and mainly made for adults it causes a lot of side effects," said Cari.

That's why the family raises money for childhood cancer research. "You never know which dollar is going to be that one that finds a different treatment that's not as harsh, or even a cure,” said Cari.

She suggested a few organizations that raise money to fund pediatric cancer research. Those include Unravel Pediatric Cancer’s fluttering campaign, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and Children’s Oncology Group.