11 Months Old at Diagnosis
Leland was continuing to have ear infections. After the fourth infection in October 2013, he came down with a bad cold (cough, congestion, runny nose), and he just couldn’t seem to get rid of it. His pediatrician put him on antibiotics, which helped with the ear infections, but it didn’t clear up the congestion. We were referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist after the sixth ear infection to have Leland’s adenoids removed and tubes placed in his ears. The specialist thought having the adenoids removed would help with the congestion. Leland had this procedure in December. Although the procedure went well, Leland starting feeling badly that evening.
The next day, he had fevers in the 104’s. I was really concerned. He hadn’t been eating or drinking for the previous two days so I decided to take him to Levine Children’s Hospital. We went to the emergency room the next evening for tests. The doctors took an x-ray of his chest and said it looked like he had the beginning stages of pneumonia. But our world was turned upside down, when we received the results of Leland’s blood work. We were also told his hemoglobin was dangerously low and that his white blood cells looked different – almost like they were clumping together. The doctor said the issue with his white blood cells could have been caused by his infections or possibly leukemia.
I just sat there with Leland in my arms and cried. I could not believe what the doctor just told me – leukemia? Really? A million questions began to run through my head. Would he be ok? How or why did he get this? How bad is it?
Two days later, Leland was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We were told this type of leukemia had to be treated aggressively to be effective. Leland started the first of four rounds of chemotherapy that week. Leland would get infections after each treatment. If we were lucky, we would be able to go home for a few days only to return a few days later because of his infections. We spent the next month in the hospital, which became our “new normal.” We celebrated Leland’s first Christmas and first birthday there. In spite the situation, Leland handled his treatments well and was a social butterfly at the hospital.
A year later, I am pleased to share that Leland is currently in remission. He is definitely a fighter! He is so loving and full of energy. Leland loves music and dancing. He will hum and swing his arms to just about any song. He also likes to color and throw and kick balls.
Our family has definitely grown stronger because of our journey with cancer. I am so much more aware of how awful childhood cancer really is. Our experience has opened my eyes to a whole different life. It’s sad to say that I did not know much about childhood cancer until Leland was diagnosed. Now that I know, I try to do whatever I can to raise money for these children.
It is so important to support childhood cancer research. The more research that is funded, the more we can help give life to children! Children are our future, and we need them. They cannot fight this battle alone.
Mother of Leland, Survivor
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