Five-year-old Leo was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) in June 2019. His parents had noticed bruising on his legs, petechiae around his eyes, fatigue, and shortness of breath, but because the symptoms didn’t present all at once, they didn’t think it was anything serious. Thankfully, on a Friday afternoon, Leo was due for a check-up where the nurse noticed the bruising on his legs and ordered a blood test.
“We had to wait until Monday for the results, which had us a bit worried,” said Leo’s mother, Flavia. “But it never really crossed our minds that it could be cancer.”
By Monday, Leo was feeling worse when they got the call sending them to the hospital emergency room. After further exams, Leo was diagnosed with T-ALL that afternoon and started intense treatment right away.
Leo’s treatment protocol for T-ALL is a three-and-a-half-year process that includes several phases of chemotherapy. Today, Leo is in remission but still receives chemo through his port and must take oral chemotherapy pills at home. The side effects of his treatment include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fatigue but one thing that never changes is his bright smile and bravery.
Leo’s family was connected to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) by the hospital and Leo’s father says they’re “forever grateful” for the support they received from LLS including financial and emotional support along with helpful LLS educational tools that helped them navigate through Leo’s treatment information.
“I was so impressed by how approachable and responsive LLS is for everyone,” said Leo's father, Stalin. “LLS has great programs and so much help and support for families. We are always willing to give back as much as we can by raising funds to also support others.”
As parents watching their son experience such pain and trauma, they’re reminded of the value of life.
“Nothing in the world prepares you for such an event,” said Flavia. “I used to be a planner. I planned every aspect of my life. This experience made me learn the importance of the now, the today, the present, the value of life and to always be grateful, find joy and enjoy your every day, especially if your family is well because life can literally change in an instant.”