On August 26th 2019, our world changed. We took Bennett to the pediatrician to follow up on under-eye puffiness that he had for a few weeks. Without seeing improvement in his condition, we chose to see a different doctor for a second opinion. Upon exam, he was concerned about discovering an enlarged spleen, in addition to swollen lymph nodes behind his neck. He sent us for blood work to investigate. I received a call that same afternoon stating that Bennett’s blood work was very concerning, and that Hershey Medical center was notified— they were expecting us immediately. I will never forget this moment in time, completely distraught and overcome by panic/shock. We drove to Hershey where they repeated labs, and unfortunately confirmed our fears. Bennett was diagnosed with leukemia. Two days later, he had a port placed to begin chemotherapy, a bone marrow biopsy, and a spinal tap with chemo by injection. While he was in recovery, we received the definitive diagnosis of B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This is the most common, most researched, and most treatable type. We remained inpatient for 10 days, where he received his first few treatments of chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, his induction cycle of chemo was complicated by a blood clot that developed in the back of his brain, which caused seizures and temporary loss of mobility on his left side. Fortunately, the seizures were able to be controlled with medication. Less than 24 hours later, Bennett regained movement in his left arm and leg. Any residual weakness has since resolved, and thankfully he has regained full mobility. He was able to complete the first cycle without any further complications.
On the last day of that cycle, his bone marrow was re-evaluated for any residual disease. Amazingly, there were no leukemia cells present, which is their goal with completion of the first round. Regardless, his treatment for ALL will continue for 3 years.
He is now in the maintenance phase of treatment, which consists of chemotherapy via his port and by spinal tap, every 3 months. He has check-ups at the clinic every month. He has now been in remission since September of 2019.
Bennett lost his hair during the most intense round of chemo at the beginning of the year, and adorably referred to himself as “bald buddy.” He can tell you about leukemia and his ”super port.” He gets 2 injections everyday, ”pinchy.” But he is THRIVING! We are so proud of how he has conquered this process and doesn’t skip a beat. Bennett was able to start preschool this fall and has especially taken interests in science and math. We have high hopes for a healthy, happy future, and continue to endlessly pray for a cure.
When I look back on those first very dark, scary days, I remember one of the first glimmers of hope we had received was the news of Four Diamonds. We were experiencing stress on so many levels, and with the assistance of this foundation, we found ourselves breathing a bit easier. Not only do they fund research, they also help individual families with financial burden, among many other inspiring things. Please consider making a donation so that other families faced with this life-altering predicament can also feel a bit of weight lifted off their shoulders. Setting up this donation page is the least I can do to return the favor... GOD BLESS PENN STATE!
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I am taking a stand against childhood cancer by fundraising for Four Diamonds.
In the U.S., more children die from cancer than any other disease, but fortunately, Four Diamonds is working to change this reality. With the help of people like you, Four Diamonds supports more than 80 pediatric oncology research professionals who are learning more about how cancer forms, how it can be treated and how treatments can be more effective. This life-saving research will benefit children around the world. For more information, visit www.FourDiamonds.org.
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