NORTH RIVER, N.S.
When Deven Desjardins first noticed a lump on the side of his neck he thought it might be a swelling that would go away on its own, but tests discovered it was an uncommon form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma.
It took more than three months for Desjardins, who was 17 at the time, to be diagnosed, and that had to be done through a biopsy.
“It was scary but it wasn’t sore at first,” he said. “It got painful when it started pressing on my inner ear.”
The tumor grew to be seven and a half centimetres in diameter and Deven began treatments. He has six and a half weeks of daily radiation and 38 once-a-week chemotherapy treatments (with one remaining).
Although he is 18 the treatments are given at the IWK because rhabdomyosarcoma is usually a childhood cancer.
“When I first started chemo I had to stop going to school but I’m finishing up my courses now and will be able to graduate in June,” he said. “I had a pretty healthy body type and I’m getting some things back but it’s hard to do some things with my hands and feet yet. I’ll need therapy to regain strength but I feel healthy and pretty good right now.”
Deven said he enjoys baking sweets and hopes to become a pastry chef after graduation.