Pre B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
In the fall of 2019, life was very active for me and my 4-year-old son Jarvis. I was busy working 2-3 jobs, and Jarvis was busy just being a kid. Almost every day after school we would go to the park so he could run around and play. He was even starting to get interested in bikes and wanting to learn to ride when he started to mention his feet were hurting.
We all know little kids get hurt, and sometimes we don’t know how it happened, and the explanation from them can be just as confusing. But something was different this time. Jarvis has always had a high pain tolerance. Over the next few months, the pain would come and go, but he started to develop a limp and more symptoms by February 2020.
Previously in December 2019, Jarvis was having stomach pains with a fever on top of his limping. I took him to his doctor, and we were told it was the flu.
As the country began to shut down due to COVID-19, Jarvis took a turn for the worst. He woke up with stomach and chest pain and was refusing to walk because of the pain in his feet. He also had a busted blood vessel in his eye. How did this happen to my son? Thankfully, my family who works in the medical field kept me calm and directed me to reach out to his doctor again.
After our virtual visit, we were directed to go to an urgent care location where they could run tests, which they did but to only come back with no concrete answers and be told to go to the ER where they could do bloodwork. At the ER, before we could even enter, we were warned about them being overwhelmed with COVID patients, and I had to make the decision to keep him safe and go home. So much was still unknown about COVID, but I couldn’t take a chance with my son.
Jarvis’ doctor called us the next day and helped us get an appointment at Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care for a blood test. After his bloodwork was finally done, I was called later that day and told to take him to the Children’s Emergency Room at University Hospital where they would be waiting for us. I took him in, but at this point, I still didn’t know what was wrong with him. They mentioned it could be blood cancer, but that was the furthest thing from my mind.
Over the next week, my son would undergo multiple x-rays, blood tests, and blood transfusions, be quarantined for COVID, get a PIC line surgically inserted into his arm, and start chemo. Jarvis finally had a diagnosis. He had pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL).
We stayed in the hospital for the next three weeks, and I learned how to operate his new PIC line, keep it clean, and Jarvis was getting therapy for his legs and using a walker to try to start walking again.
These past two years, Jarvis has gone from having a PIC line in his arm to a port in his chest, from not walking at all to now running around and dancing like a 7-year-old should. From doctors’ visits every two weeks to visits every three months. From losing his hair, growing it back, losing it again, and now it’s finally back. Jarvis is the strongest kid I know.
I am so grateful for all the support we have had from our family, our church, all the doctors and nurses, and organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). We were able to receive assistance from LLS while we have been on this journey and continue to utilize their resources as Jarvis continues to get better.
Written by his mother.