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Mother and Son Duo Face Cancer Together

My 5-year-old daughter and I have similar temperaments. We are both liable to burst into tears without warning and then just as easily slip into a fit of laughter. Our tender hearts are forever on our sleeves. I joke that she's going to have a harder life than her laid back brother, but at least she'll know she can survive because I have. Secretly, I worry that when life inevitably bats her around, she'll struggle as much as I did with taking things personally or veering into depression.

Cheryl Mauthe, a single mother of two children, shares something much scarier than an emotional nature with her 6-year-old son, Colin. They both have cancer. Colin was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012, then two years later, Ms. Mauthe was diagnosed with breast cancer. Their story has been chronicled in photos by Tim Smith for a Canada newspaper.

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The story of this mother-son duo fighting one of the scariest diseases in contemporary life is as gut-wrenching as you would imagine. Both mother and son have faced chemotherapy, scary operations and endless doctors' appointments. Ms. Mauthe, in the midst of enduring painful treatments for her breast cancer, also faced the daunting task of supporting her young son through his own treatments. At the same time, she fought to keep her family life as normal as possible both for Colin and his sister, Emily, who ended up feeling "left out" because she didn't have cancer too.

Each year in the United States there are an estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who diagnosed with cancer.

Ms. Mauthe reported remaining positive in front of her kids, but feared breaking down when she was alone at night. As a single mother, there was no one there to reassure her that everything would be alright. Fortunately, Ms. Mauthe and her family had a support network of friends who brought them food and helped with lawn care.

After years of bad news, Ms. Mauthe recently learned that she's been declared cancer-free and hopes Colin will receive similar news by the end of this year.

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No mother should have to face cancer in her child. If I were in charge of the universe, that would be a law. Unfortunately, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, each year in the United States there are an estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who diagnosed with cancer.

It's impossible for me to read Ms. Mauthe's story and not be inspired by her resilience and courage. My hope is that I can tap into the same strength of character when those curveballs come, both for me and my daughter.

Photographs by Tim Smith

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