4 Years Old at Diagnosis.
What started as a regular Saturday morning trip with her 4-year-old triplets to a McDonald’s in Beaver Dam, KY turned into a life-changing experience for Shelly Sommer and her family.
On March 4, 2017, Shelly noticed that one of her identical twin sons, Xavier, had some blood in his stool after he used the McDonald’s bathroom. Weeks before, she had taken him to the doctor because of his paleness, but it was decided that he was just sick and should be fine. Now worried about possible internal bleeding, Shelly called her husband Jason to pick up the twin brother Logan, and fraternal twin sister Shelby-Jae, and she rushed Xavier to the nearby ER.
All of Xavier’s test came back normal, but as they were about to leave the ER, Shelly stopped and mentioned to the doctor that he was still pale. The doctor looked at Xavier’s eye and agreed that he was pretty pale, so he decided to run some CBC (complete blood count) blood work, just to be safe.
After the blood work, the doctor said he didn’t have a definite diagnosis, but Xavier would need some blood transfusions. Four hours later, Shelly and Xavier were being admitted to Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville with talks of it being leukemia.
On Tuesday, March 6th, the family was giving a full diagnosis – B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which accounts for 25% of all cancers in children under 15. It was a scary, shocking and devastating news.
“The day to day is fairly calm right now,” says Shelly. “He doesn’t get a lot of meds at home during this round, but we had been going to Louisville every Tuesday night for early Wednesday treatment, which consisted of a lumbar puncture and chemo. These treatments range from 5 minutes to 8 hours. Soon we’ll start a treatment that lands us in Louisville 4 days out of the week, with chemo also being given at home.”
Shelly and Jason are both self-employed, so they don’t have the luxury of taking time off from work. Thanks to her mother-in-law, they are receiving help for the other kids so they don’t have to be pulled out of daycare.
As for his brother Logan and sister Shelby-Jae, they know their brother is sick, but they don’t quite understand why they don’t get to go to school and why their mom and Xavier keep leaving. But Shelly explains as best as she can about what is happening so they don’t resent their brother for getting to go away with mommy all the time, and so they don’t feel like he’s getting special treatment.
Despite the current treatment process, Xavier is a regular 4-year-old kid who loves playing with dinosaurs and spending time outdoors (when he has the energy). His positive and courageous attitude prove that he is a superhero, and his mother has seen it all firsthand.
“Xavier is a superhero simply because he is fighting this nasty disease with a smile. He doesn’t complain about the pain and he doesn’t complain about the doc visits. He takes it in stride and gives it his all.”
Shelly believes that children’s cancer research and the work that CureSearch does is important because no child should have to endure being poisoned and put through this terrible fight. She also believes that parents need to be strong for their superheroes, in more ways than one.
“Be strong for your superhero. They may look strong on the outside, but they are still our babies on the inside, so pick your battles. If they want to wear shoes to bed, let them wear shoes to bed. We don’t know what level of comfort that small thing is giving them, so let them have all they need.”
We are fighting right alongside Xavier during his treatment process, and we know that he has the best love and support coming from his family.
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