6 Years Old at Diagnosis
Evan Westphal was a normal 6-year-old when he started having ear infections that didn’t seem to get better with antibiotics. While nosebleeds were common for him, he woke up with one that his family couldn’t seem to stop. They took him to the local hospital where they stopped the nosebleed and sent him home with a new antibiotic because his ear infection was back. When they got home, his mother Janice was reading through the discharge paperwork and something didn’t seem right. They mentioned bruising, which Evan had been having a lot of lately. Janice did what every doctor told her not to do and looked Evan’s symptoms up online. Everything she read suggested leukemia. Janice called her doctor immediately and demanded a blood test. The test took place the next morning and at 5pm that day, Evan’s family got the call that would change their lives forever. Evan had leukemia.
The family headed to the hospital immediately where Evan’s doctors performed a bone marrow biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment. Evan had to miss 6 months of school due to treatment, but through it all, his family tried to keep life as normal as possible. “Treatment is tough,” says Janice. “It shows you how strong you can truly be. You have your ups and downs, but if you face it as a family, you can do anything.”
Janice has been overwhelmed by the support of strangers. Evan and his brother Alex’s schools have provided support for the family, making sure that each boy is getting the help that they need to be successful in school. Evan’s school also went so far as to allow Janice to come in to talk to his class about leukemia and why it is important that they not come to school sick as well as allowing Evan to eat lunch in in the principal’s office so he is not exposed to the many germs that linger in the lunchroom.
Three years later, Evan’s treatment is coming to an end and he has been thriving. His family decided that it was their turn to give back and to raise awareness and funds for other children going through cancer treatment. This year, they walked in the Southeast Michigan CureSearch Walk and helped raise more than $1,000. Janice said that she is excited about seeing the Walk grow next year, and is ready to do whatever she can to help.