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Building on basics

Mind – Body – Spirit

The 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.

Soon, 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.

Like 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.

Joe 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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