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TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa Bay mother and son battled cancer together during a pandemic.

Amy Sapien said her son, Landen, was diagnosed with leukemia in June of 2019.

Prior to the diagnosis, she noticed swollen glands around her son’s neck. She took him to a walk-in clinic where a doctor asked if the family had a history of leukemia and recommended her son see his pediatrician.

She said the pediatrician diagnosed Landen with tonsillitis.

Sapien said days later, her son collapsed while at a store.

Mom and son fight cancer

Julie Salomone

“We were at a pet store getting a fish and Landen said his stomach hurt and then he just like collapsed onto the floor,” said Amy Sapien, Laden’s mother.

Her 8-year-old son is receiving treatment for leukemia. He will need three-and-a-half years of treatment and is about halfway done.

“He’s been such a trooper. He’s had such a good attitude,” said Sapien.

About nine months after her son’s diagnosis, Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. A biopsy showed her left breast had invasive lobular carcinoma, a cancer that begins in the milk-carrying ducts and spreads beyond it.

She needed a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

“My husband couldn’t even be with me for the surgery so he dropped me off at 6:00 in the morning at Moffitt and then turned around and grabbed Landen and took him over to St. Joe’s for emergency platelets,” said Sapien.

Sapien said she asked for both breasts to be removed.

“I had a mastectomy. I would have had a double, but they said it was an elective at that time. They were canceling all elective surgeries so a double when you only need a single wasn’t an option,” said Sapien.

It has been one year since Sapien had a mastectomy. Recently, she had an MRI and the results were good.

Mom

Julie Salomone

She became a board member for PREP4Gold. The organization focuses on prevention, research, education and programs for children with cancer.

Sapien said her family is focused on her son’s health.

“I’ve only met a handful of people that their child and them both had cancer and even less of them had it concurrently so I think it makes us closer if that makes sense because I’m the only person that understands anything that he has been through,” said Sapien.

Sapien also encourages women to get a mammogram.

“Ladies, I was only 41, 40 when I got cancer, I was only 40. It can happen and it does happen. Don’t put off your mammogram. Don’t put off your self-care.”

“All you have is your health and when you’re health fails, you don’t have anything.”

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