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Ethan Punto
13 months old at diagnosis
Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt University Clinic

I'll never forget the first time we heard the word "cancer" in connection with Ethan. 

We were in the hospital for a severe urinary tract infection and persistent diarrhea, and the doctors ordered an ultrasound scan.  The young doctor on duty was scanning with a puzzled look on her face, and then said, "OK, liver, kidney... liver, kidney..."  Then she turned to her supervisor and said, "Would you like to take over?"  

There was an eerie silence for a long, long time as picture after picture rolled off the machine.  Then, the man turned to us, took a deep breath, and said, "It looks like a fairly large space-occupying lesion.  A tumor." 

My head was spinning, and all I could think of to say was, "You mean cancer?"


Our lives changed in that millisecond and have never been the same since.

We are lucky; Ethan has reached NED (no evidence of disease) after two years of treatment.  We have seen his hair fall out, watched him vomit 6 - 10 times per day, lose so much weight that he could barely stand, saw his skin turn an unearthly shade of white when his blood counts dropped, and learned of permanent hearing loss from the treatment that we hope will save his life. 

But we have also seen his hair grow back, watched him recover from major surgery amazingly quickly, and most importantly, we have seen the scans and other tests that show no sign of cancer cells in his body. 

For the moment, we sweat every check-up scan, dreading a repeat of the scan that showed the tumor in the first place.  I have gotten used to hearing the work "cancer" in connection with my son, but I still hate passionately that any child has to go through what he has been through.