Wilms tumor, or nephroblastoma, is a rare kidney cancer that predominantly affects children under 5. In most cases, Wilms tumor involves one tumor in one kidney (unilateral); however, the American Cancer Society states 5-10% of children with Wilms tumor have multiple tumors and about 5% of cases affect both kidneys (bilateral). According to the Mayo Clinic, “the outlook for most children with Wilms tumor is very good” due to research and treatments involving the disease. Kawena Leong, De’ahntay Barnes, and Samantha Rangel are three children affected by Wilms tumor who are raising support and awareness on GiveForward.
Kawena Leong’s mother, Tiare, describes her daughter as “a typical sassy 2 year old who’s also a sweet loving little girl who loves playing, going to the beach, and being with her family and friends.” On October 14, 2013, Kawena was diagnosed with stage III Wilms tumor, which indicates the cancer is contained within the abdomen and accounts for 20 to 25% of diagnoses (American Cancer Society). Kawena received radiation and is currently undergoing chemotherapy to remove her Wilms tumor.
As a fifth grader, De’ahntay Barnes, is older than most children affected by Wilms tumor. After his diagnosis this past April, doctors removed one of De’ahntay’s kidneys. Like Kawena, De’ahntay is receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Although he experiences mood swings and irritability as side effects of his medication, De’ahntay is maintaining his determination in conquering Wilms Tumor. In his own words: “I’m going to kick CANCER butt, that ole Devil.”
A 10-year-old named Samantha Rangel is another brave kid battling Wilms tumor. Although she was initially diagnosed six years ago in December 2007, Samantha is now amid her second battle with the disease. Samantha’s tumor spread to the right atrium of her heart through her vena cava. Doctors are now using radiation to remove the tumor from her aorta. Despite the obstacles they face, Samantha’s family remains hopeful and her mother, Misty, even volunteers with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
While Kawen, De’ahntay, and Samantha, and their families cope with the co-pays, travel expenses, prescriptions, and time off work as they fight Wilms tumor, their loved ones are showing emotional and financial support through their fundraising pages. Children with Wilms tumor, like all people coping with cancer diagnoses and their subsequent treatments, remind us that bravery and optimism are not qualities defined by age.