For Darshana Magan, 41, surviving childhood cancer is a blessing. But being cured isn't the end of the story..
Magan was treated for chronic myeloid leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital about 30 years ago. She received a bone marrow transplant. It included full-body radiation and chemotherapy. The transplant cured the leukemia.
But the treatment caused health conditions to develop years later. Treatment-related conditions that happen months and years after treatment are called late effects.
Because childhood cancer is rare, many health care providers may not know much about the unique needs of survivors. For example, some survivors are at increased risk for certain cancers. As a result, they need to start screenings much earlier than other people. Around age 30, Magan began getting mammograms, colonoscopies, and skin biopsies to screen for breast, colon, and skin cancers. She also started bone density scans because some cancer treatments can cause a loss of bone mass. The key is to catch problems early when they are more likely to be treated successfully.
“Often, survivors must help educate their providers about their needs,” Magan said. “Our fight continues as some of us experience long-term side effects from the chemo and radiation that cured us. Yearly check-ups and routine scans are vital to living a long and healthy life. I remain healthy and most importantly, self-aware. I will always advocate for my health.”
Magan returns to St. Jude about every 5 years for checkups as part of the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study (St. Jude LIFE). The study helps researchers learn about the long-term health of childhood cancer survivors.