Posted at: 09/30/2013 12:05 PM
By: Brittany Falkers
At just 19-years-old, Angela Hochevar and her family got the news that no family wants to hear. She was diagnosed with a childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma, commonly referred to as RMS.
Soon after she was diagnosed with this rare form of soft tissue cancer, Angela headed to Essentia St. Mary's Medical Center where she connected with Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Andrea Watson. That's when the diagnosis became reality and treatment began.
"She began a multi-modal year-long treatment which included radiation and intensive chemo for the most part of a year," Watson said.
Treatment of childhood cancers can be a very long process for many kids and their families, according to Watson. Both she and Hochevar agree it can be a very draining process for not only the patient, but their family as well.
"Understandably, hearing that your child has cancer is one of the worst nightmares a parent can imagine. It throws everything in your life into upheaval," Watson said.
That's why continued awareness and especially community support are crucial for families facing childhood cancer. Hochevar's community on the range had a benefit for her during her treatment. That added support helped her stay positive, she said.
Now, at age 24 she is cancer free and getting ready to graduate college. She hopes to go into social work to help other kids going though cancer. With a bright future ahead she wants others to know there is life after cancer.
"Life is 100 percent better afterwards because you realize what's important and you realize who's there for you and who's not and you don't take anything for granted anymore," Hochevar said.
Thanks go better treatments and continued support, Dr. Watson says that childhood cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence.
"It's a very long-term process, but with adequate support most families do amazing, children typically survive and they come out in the end, really stronger for having gone through the battle."
Watson and Hochevar encourage families facing childhood cancer to stay positive and to never give up.
"As we all should be grateful for our health, families should remember childhood cancer does happen. It happens locally, it can happen in our families and communities, but with today's treatment options, the vast majority of children survive," Watson said. "With raised awareness, we as a community can support those families and help cure more children."