physicians who had been treating Joe decided he needed special care
- the kind of care available at an academic medical center located
130 miles away. In January 1995, Joe Lynn and his mother went to
UC Davis Children's Hospital, where he underwent CT and MRI scans
and a biopsy.
the family had a word for what was ailing Joe. He had rhabdomyosarcoma
- "rhabdo" for short - a rare, extremely malignant pediatric
cancer in which tumors grow in a type of soft tissue called striated
muscle. Rhabdomyosarcoma can appear anywhere in the body, but the
head and neck and the pelvis are the most common areas.
many pediatric cancers, the causes of rhabdomyosarcoma are unknown,
although it is more common in children with genetic anomalies such
as neuro- fibromatosis. Only 250 cases are reported annually.
was in stage four (on a four-stage scale) of the disease, which
meant it had spread. The golf-ball-sized tumor in Joe's jaw had
grown up through the base of his skull and was pushing his brain
forward. There were also several small tumors in his lungs. Nationally,
survival rates for children with stage four rhabdo fall somewhere
between 20 and 50 percent. Joe was admitted that day.
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