Thanks to medical advances, cancer death rates in children and teens dropped by nearly 70 percent over the past 40 years, but cancer is still the leading cause of death from disease among children.
Sixteen-year-old Ilana Cecilia from Altoona, a four–year-survivor of osteosarcoma, is the Brian Morden Foundation CARES Spotlight for April. The foundation supports kids with cancer and raises money for research.
Doctors diagnosed Ilana with osteosarcoma the summer she was eleven-years-old. She’s a four-year survivor, but it took 39 rounds of chemotherapy and four surgeries for her to get there. Surgery to remove her cancer, left her with a hip replacement and other physical issues, that limit her activities.
“I used to be very very active when I was like 9, 10, 11. I was very active in those years, you name a sport, I played it,” she says.
Now, Ilana focuses much of her attention on the arts. A talented artist, her more-than-life-size diversity poster currently hangs in the Altoona Area High School.
She says having cancer has changed what she thought her life would be. She no longer takes anything for granted and says that no one should.
“I don’t know what’s ahead of me, I don’t know what could happen. I don’t know if it could come back I don’t know if I could fracture. I don’t know if I could end up getting an amputation,” she says.
The Morden Foundation is contributing $1,000 to the Sarcoma Foundation in honor of Ilana.
She says it would mean the world to her and others affected by cancer if more people would donate.