With September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Athlone News chatted to Rahmlynn Luiters from Bonteheuwel who was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was three years old. Her cancer is now in remission.
Her mother Deidre Luiters explained that she noticed something was wrong with her daughter in December 2012 when she had a bad fever and developed blue marks on her body a few days later. She took Rahmlynn to a private doctor who then referred her Red Cross Hospital where she underwent tests.
Shortly after that Ms Luiters said she was called in by the doctors who let her know that her daughter had Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). AML starts in the bone marrow, but in most cases it quickly moves into the blood. It can sometimes spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and testicles.
“It was like a movie. I couldn’t believe it. Soon after that her nose and mouth started bleeding and her blood count was low,” said Ms Luiters.
On December 12 2012 Rahmlynn underwent her first chemotherapy treatment.
“I felt horrible and devastated. I had so many questions, I was broken. I had to be strong but my family was also very supportive and God really gave me the strength,” she said.
She said during the chemo, Rahmlynn wouldn’t really eat and lost a significant amount of weight, as well as most of her hair.
In 2012 her condition improved and she went for last check up last month. She has been cancer free for four years now.
“It put a lot of strain on our family. I had to be everywhere at the same time but my friends and family helped a lot to relieve me. It was my duty to be there for her and look after her,” she said.
Rahmlynn said she was very happy that she was healthy again. “I was very sick and very sad. I missed my brothers and sisters, I wanted to come home,” she said.
Ms Luiters said the cancer journey had made her family much stronger and had made Rahmlynn a very mature and loving child.
“When we were at the hospital, all types of people prayed together and ate together. There was no racism. The rich and the poor all sat together as we were all going through the same thing. You have to make a lot of sacrifices and you meet a lot of people. I have made friends for life now,” said Ms Luiters.
Rahmlynn is now on the organ donor recipient list in case her cancer comes back and her mom has also registered as an organ donor.
Ms Luiters’ advice to others going through something similar is not to think of it as a burden. “God chooses us for a reason. This journey has taught us so much about cancer. The difficult part is seeing your child in pain and you feel so useless but Rahmlynn was so happy and always smiled,” she said.
She is now a motivational speaker and also advises parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer.
“It makes the children so mature because they were thrown into an adult situation. But it also makes them so helpful and they are able to make you smile when you are down,” she said.
Rahmlynn said: “I want to tell the children who are going through the same thing that they will get better and they will get stronger and also be in remission.