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'It's okay. I'll be fine': 8-year-old cancer patient raises awareness during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

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Posted at 8:10 PM, Sep 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-05 23:32:51-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Walking into the outpatient center at Riley Hospital for children you see smiles.

On the oncology floor, you see red wagons, parents pulling their children.

The waiting room, quiet, but there's a buzz of children playing.

Some of these kids in high spirits while others seem down, more worn out from treatment.

See, cancer is a word, one that can change a family.

In this waiting room the families might not know each other, but they have one thing in common. They're all going through a parent's worst nightmare.

"Sitting there watching your kid hover over the toilet and there's nothing you can do you feel pretty helpless," Chrissy Carel said.

Her son Josiah, was diagnosed with a low-grade glioma on his brain.

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Doctors use the word cancer to describe it.

"It's just a lot, it's a lot to take in," Carel said. "That feeling of a knot in your throat it doesn't go away. I turned around today and I started crying."

Carel describes what it was like the day doctors told her, her then 7-year-old son had cancer.

"It was the worst day of my life. You feel like the heart has been ripped out of your chest," Carel said. "It changes everything, your aspect on life."

On March 19th, 2022 Josiah went to the ER after intense headaches and an inability to keep anything down.

That led to a biopsy, cancer diagnosis, and 58-weeks of chemo at Riley hospital for Children.

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Josiah's tumor is midbrain. Surgery and radiation are too risky.

The 3rd grader's tumor is the most common solid tumor in pediatric cancer cases. And it is the leading cause of pediatric cancer deaths.

"We're learning more and more every day about the molecular makeup of cancers," Dr. Daniel Runco said.

Runco is a pediatric neuro-oncologist, treating patients every day like Josiah.

"You hear about cancer as it is a big broad term but cancer is really like a fruit salad. There is blueberries, pineapples, there's strawberries and each of those are different types of cancers and they require very different types of treatment," Dr. Runco said.

Carel said it's tough watching your child go through a cancer diagnosis, but that Josiah has kept a smile on his face every step of the way.

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"I just feel strong," Josiah said.

Josiah recently rang the bell at Riley, marking an end to his chemo treatment.

"Some kids don't get to do that, some kids can die and it isn't good," Josiah said.

Josiah's sick days are becoming fewer and far between.


The next phase of his treatment calls for checkups and brain scans every 3 months.

On Tuesday, Josiah's scans showed no sign of tumor growth, proving his chemo worked, and Josiah can try to be a kid again.

His family says they've leaned on their faith since the diagnosis, and want other families to know they aren't alone.

"Without faith I don't think he'd be sitting here," Carel said.

Josiah said if other kids stay strong they could have a positive outcome.

"It's okay. I'll be fine," Josiah said. "Believe in god and god will heal them fast."

September is childhood cancer awareness month.

There are many resources out there for families who are going through a cancer diagnosis.

From financial assistance, to educational help, even help taking your child on a trip, there are are many resources available.