To celebrate Father’s Day, which is Sunday, June 19, we are highlighting fathers who have joined CureSearch for Children’s Cancer in the fight against children’s cancer. This is the story of Sydney Hawk, diagnosed with Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 3, written by her father, Joe, on Monday, June 13, 2016.
During the Winter of 2012 and 2013, Sydney seemed to be continuously sick and unable to shake what we thought were common cold symptoms. After numerous trips to the pediatrician and doses of antibiotics, they decided to do a blood test on March 5th. After reading the results, they told us to get her to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh right away for a more thorough blood test.
This is when we received the news that our beautiful, 3-year-old daughter had Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Our lives changed immediately. The Philadelphia chromosome is a rare subtype of leukemia, only present in 3% of children diagnosed with blood cancers. We were absolutely devastated, but so thankful that years of research and drug development had improved Sydney’s prognosis from what it would have been just a short 7-10 years earlier.
Due to her initial chemotherapy, her immunity became compromised and she contracted a very serious Pseudomonas infection throughout her body. This resulted in damage to her left lung, intestines, and sparked seizures and lesions on her brain. For 42 days, Sydney was in the PICU. Cancer became secondary at that time, as the infection became the more serious problem. It took nearly another three months for Sydney to become strong enough to be discharged from the hospital.
After two and a half years, Sydney did finish her initial treatment protocol in August 2015, only to relapse 22 days later in her central nervous system. This prompted her oncologist to schedule Sydney for a bone marrow transplant, which was completed on Christmas Eve 2015.
She has been through so much and still has a very long way to go to complete recovery, but through it all, she has shown an unbelievable strength, courage, and resilience.
This has changed all of our lives and we are confident that God has a plan for her and for us. We may not know the full extent of that plan yet, but we have already seen Sydney be an impact to and touch so many others. This experience has made us more aware of what others are dealing with and the need for further research for pediatric cancers. We are committed to helping CureSearch in their research efforts. Through Sydney, so many others in our community have become more aware too, and she has put a face to pediatric cancer.
All we want to do as parents is protect our children, so we vowed to help Sydney fight her cancer and fight for her when it gets difficult for her to do. We will never give up and will continue this battle for her and for other children like her.
If you’re a CureSearch father and would like to share your child’s cancer story, please visit our Facebook page on Father’s Day and join in the conversation.
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