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Keep Kids Involved In Their Own Health Care

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Stephanie Lucero
Stephanie is an Emmy Award winning veteran reporter for CBS 11 N...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - One of the most difficult conversations that a parent can have is telling their child that he or she is sick. But children can actually help make big decisions about their own health, experts said, and one Dallas eighth-grader is doing just that.

As a boy, Luke Gidden had a ton of energy. But his parents sensed that he was different and, in fourth-grade, Gidden was diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder, a mild form of autism. At the time, Gidden’s parents thought this was the biggest challenge that they would ever face.

Things changed last year when Gidden was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of cancer called osteosarcoma. Gidden was just 12 years old. But his parents and doctors did not hide Gidden from the reality of his situation. “Luke has been in the room for every single talk,” Dr. Patrick Leavey said of Children’s Medical Center.

Gidden knows the details about his disease, and knows that he is fighting for his life. And he helped make the decision to amputate his leg. “Luke has said, ‘I don’t understand. I have cancer in my leg. Cut it off,’” explained mother Carrie Gidden.

“He’s a smart guy,” said Gidden’s father.

“I really didn’t want to have to sit around and have to think about it when it was pretty obvious,” Gidden said. “I should just take my leg off.”

Dr. Leavey applauds the family’s decision to let their son be involved in his medical care — and all familes who make this choice. “They’ve embraced Luke and Luke’s opinion and Luke’s preference and Luke’s thoughts,” Dr. Leavey said.

“He’s just taught us so much about faith and trusting,” Gidden’s mother said.

Gidden is already getting used to his prosthetic leg. And the hope is that, by amputating his leg, the cancer has been eliminated too. “It was either the leg or me,” Gidden said. The family will know for sure in December — before Christmas — if the chemotherapy is working and the cancer is gone.

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