Lymphoma: Rare blood cancer keeps Kyle from his beloved soccer
When 10-year-old Kyle Griffiths went to hospital last January with a swollen knee, it was taped up and he was sent home with crutches.
His family never suspected the cause of the swelling could be cancer. Kyle’s dad had gone through cancer treatment himself just the year before and lightning surely couldn’t strike twice.
“Kyle continued to complain about his sore knee so I insisted on an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon,” Kyle’s mum, Helen, explained to Blood Cancer News.
“The surgeon then sent me to an orthopaedic oncologist who biopsied the knee and two weeks later we got the diagnosis: non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“It was a shock to everyone because lymphoma in the bone is very unusual and he had no tumours in his lymph nodes or soft tissue. The orthopaedic surgeon was completely gobsmacked that it was cancer; he hadn’t seen anything like it.”
Coming to terms with the diagnosis was tough for the family and Helen was understandably emotional when reflecting on receiving the news. “I didn’t actually understand the seriousness of the cancer until Kyle’s physician started talking survival rates,” she said.
It was the family’s second brush with cancer in two years. Kyle’s dad Peter had also had to undergo chemotherapy for a different type of cancer.
“At first it was difficult for Kyle to accept his diagnosis and it was a challenge to keep him positive. However, I think seeing his dad overcome cancer really made him confident he could beat it. He began to see every day as one closer to finishing treatment.”
Kyle’s treatment started almost immediately and he underwent surgery within a couple days to insert a central line to pump fluids and drugs directly into his body.
“The chemotherapy made him feel very sick and tired and he didn’t want to eat. He developed a serious tooth infection and they thought he would have to have eight teeth removed!”
While Kyle avoided losing his teeth, he did have to spend nearly 50 days in hospital over four months.
Helen stayed with Kyle during his times in hospital. “He was so sick we ended up back in hospital between every round of chemo.”
Our Support Services Coordinator, Amanda Ferguson, helped the family throughout Kyle’s difficult treatment. “Amanda was fantastic. She helped us get a healthcare card for Kyle and a wheelchair as he wasn’t able to walk very far during treatment,” Helen added.
“We were so relieved to get the all clear in September, although he will still have MRI scans on his knee every six weeks.
“The cancer infiltrated the bone so it looks as though something is still there. Any minor change in the MRI images and we will need to do another PET scan to make sure it’s nothing serious.”
Kyle is now doing well but there is no denying the traumatic effects of treatment.
“At some stages, he was convinced he was going to die as other kids on the ward died around him,” Helen said.
Helen, a scientist herself, is keenly interested in lymphoma research and she says Kyle has also shown an interest in the field. “He’s eager to help other patients when he’s older and would like to try his hand at radiology or oncology.
“We went to the Leukaemia Foundation’s World Lymphoma Awareness Day in September which Kyle loved. He got to question all the researchers and share his story with them.”
World Lymphoma Awareness Day is a global initiative to raise awareness about lymphoma. It is held on 15 September each year.
UPDATE: This September (2016) Kyle celebrated his one year post-treatment anniversary by ‘ringing the bell,’ at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. The mad keen soccer player is also thrilled to be back on the field kicking goals with his team mates.