Overcoming Childhood Cancer Motivates Olympic Skier


Olympic Skier PostAt the age of 3, Olympic nordic skier Bryan Fletcher was diagnosed with leukemia. After years of chemotherapy, during which he also suffered a stroke, his cancer went into remission at the age of 10. Today, Bryan is in Sochi, Russia, competing in the winter Olympics.

It is critical that adult survivors of childhood cancer, like Brian, be seen on a regular basis by a health care provider who is familiar with these risks. At Children’s Medical Center, our After the Cancer Experience (ACE) Program not only provides medical follow-up and care, but also education about potential long-term side effects of cancer treatments, communication with physicians and advice on ways to reduce the risk of side effects.

Adult survivors of childhood cancer, like Bryan, often have unique medical issues that are related either to the cancer itself or to their cancer treatments. For example, they may develop chronic medical conditions, such as:

  • Enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy)
  • Brittle bones (osteopenia)
  • Growth abnormalities
  • Infertility
  • Kidney disease
  • Other types of cancer

The ACE Program at Children’s Medical Center

The ACE program at Children’s was the first long-term follow-up program for childhood cancer survivors in Texas, dating back to 1989, which, coincidentally, is the same year Bryan was diagnosed with cancer.

The nationally recognized ACE Program provides long-term monitoring of cancer survivors, even into adulthood, one of the few children’s hospitals in the nation to provide this type of care.

There are currently around 700 cancer survivors, aged 4-62, who are actively enrolled in the ACE Program, which is open to cancer survivors two years after they have completed their treatments.

The ACE Program is a member of the Childhood Cancer Survivors Study (CCSS), the leading consortium for researching the long-term effects of childhood cancer. Our team is active in the state and local American Cancer Society’s Childhood Cancer Conference, and our team members have been invited to speak at national and international conferences.

In an interview with Steamboat Today, Bryan said, “I look back and think that dealing with cancer might have been a good thing. If I could beat cancer, then I can beat any challenge in my life. It taught me to fight—especially when things get tough.”

While we can’t guarantee that every childhood cancer survivor will reach the Olympic heights Bryan has, with proper follow-up, adult survivors of childhood cancer can go on to lead healthy and productive lives.

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