March 16, 2013. I will never forget the moment I first saw the bump. We went to the pediatrician that afternoon. Our doctor looked at Eli and said “Don’t worry. This is not cancer.”
A month later we were in for a checkup and a doctor suggested that we should have Riley Hospital take a look. We got into Riley in May and they told us that we would need to do a MRI. I will never forget how we heard over and over “these things are rarely cancer.”
Brian Shaw (a.k.a. “Little Man”) is an energetic, happy, intelligent and compassionate six-year-old boy. For nearly a year, starting when he was four, several of those characteristics seemed submerged beneath the side effects of daily chemotherapy that followed his diagnosis with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Though his treatments continue (3-1/2 years in total), the side effects have alleviated somewhat and Brian is getting back to his normal self, attending school, etc.
My daughter Makenzie was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in January 2013, when she was just four years old. She had no signs or symptoms of leukemia. One day, Makenzie had a sore throat and we made an appointment with her pediatrician. Turns out she did have strep throat, but an exam also revealed her spleen was very enlarged. At that point, her pediatrician did bloodwork and learned that Makenzie's white cell count was through the roof.
After a family vacation with her four kids and husband of 20 years, Latasha couldn't eat or hold her head up. After being in bed for almost a month, she thought she had the flu when her doctor broke the news that she had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and anemia. Latasha had a particularly rough journey.
I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in May of 2003. The diagnosis came after three or four months of tests attempting to diagnose a lump from my neck (which was ultimately removed). My wife and I were told that I had a disease that was considered treatable but not curable. My particular sub-type, follicular, has a tendency to reoccur. I was referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The staging test results showed I had a very small amount of the disease on the whole, but it was present in my bone marrow, which is considered Stage IV, or the worst possible result. I underwent six months of chemotherapy beginning in August of 2003 and concluding in January of 2004. The doctors were confident, and they were correct, that the treatment would be successful.
My daughter is Madeline Conley. On Jan 7, 2014, three days after her 15th birthday, she was diagnosed with leukemia (AML/MDS). She was a high school cheerleader and cheer coach and was basically ripped out of her normal active life and admitted to the hospital immediately where she spent the next five months. It was the scariest thing we've even been through. She had always been very healthy and had never been in the hospital as a patient before.