Childhood cancer awareness month: cancer rate increases in those younger than 50

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 12:18 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - David Alvey was two-and-a-half years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. His mother, Paris Alvey, said they initially took him to the doctor for a double ear infection.

Instead, David was diagnosed with cancer, and Paris, her husband and all of their children immediately went to Fargo to start David’s 19-day treatment.

“It was completely unexpected. I mean, it’s not something that you ever anticipate. You hear it a lot; it happens to other people, but not me, and that was our experience,” said Paris Alvey, David’s mother.

David is eight years old now, and Paris said overall, he’s doing well. She said they’re also more conscious about what they eat and the lifestyle they live because of the possible effects that could have on their family’s health. For some parents though, the story ends much differently.

Randi Oothoudt’s son, Cully, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma when he was two, and even though they caught it early and got him treatment right away, the cancer came back while he was still being treated.

Cully Oothoudt
Cully Oothoudt(Courtesy of Randi Oothoudt)

“They never used the word ‘terminal’ with us, but I made the mistake of looking online, and I saw that recurrent medulloblastoma is terminal. And so I read it online, and that was how I found out, and that was a shock, because I didn’t think we were up against something that serious — I knew that our prognosis had changed, but I didn’t realize that there’s very little chance of surviving when it recurs,” said Randi Oothoudt, Cully’s mother.

Physician’s assistant Brittani Boehlke-Fiecke said they’ve been treating more young cancer patients at Essentia’s location in Fargo as well.

“We’re seeing very similar trends, with a most noticeable increase in breast cancer incidents over the past five years, from 13.5 percent to nearly 18 percent of our patients under the age of 50 being diagnosed,” said PA Brittani Boehlke-Fiecke.

Boehlke-Fiecke said while you can’t control your genetics, you can control your lifestyle, which can help lower your chance of developing cancer.

If you or someone you know has a child who’s been diagnosed with cancer, “Brave the Shave” has resources available for you.