10 Years Old at Diagnosis
Written by Susan Davidson
My son, Zane, at 10-years-old, came home one day and started having strange muscle pains. They would come and go, and we let it slide as “growing pains.” That’s normal for a 10-year-old kid to be growing and having these pains. Well, this kept happening, more and more…and more…and they never were just in his legs. It would go up to his back, his chest, back to his legs, and so on.
An explanation had to exist, right?
One ER trip to the local hospital gave us nothing, so the concern set in. We went to the Riley Hospital for Children’s ER. Zane had no abnormal blood results, and we were sent home with instructions to take pain medicine. The pain just sporadically returned, and the last ER trip before diagnosis we ended up on the cardiac floor because the pain was in his chest. No explanation for this phantom pain was being addressed. They sent us home with a diagnosis of a possible muscle virus that should go away in six weeks.
Six weeks? No way.
Well, four weeks went by and Zane finished 4th grade. On his field day at school he was doing fine until he got hit with a water balloon and writhed in pain over it. What is wrong with this kid? Is this in his head? No one knew!
The next day he had a follow up at Riley for bloodwork and he came home that evening and couldn’t even walk! He looked like he was 80-years-old and had to lie on the couch to fall asleep. That’s when the doctor called. His white blood cells were outrageously high. No one even needed to tell me what was going on. I already knew.
There are so many memories burned into my head about that evening. As my child laid on a cot, completely dosed with morphine for the pain, the same doctor that told us there was nothing wrong had to tell us he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. I can’t really remember the rest of that evening. It is a fog.
Zane spent the next few days getting very high doses of chemo, a port, and watching his body fight this evil cancer. He likes to say he remembers nothing about those days, and I’m glad he didn’t have to see that side of things. I’ve never been more helpless in my life. Putting your complete trust in doctors, knowing they have the right plan for your child, is a very hard thing to do. The hardest thing you have to do as a parent is tell your child he has cancer.
We got to go home after about a week in the hospital. The next nine months of intense chemo passed by like slow motion. The hair had fallen out (I tried not to cry about his beautiful hair). His body was porcelain white, but I had hope that he would get through this. Lifestyles had to change. There wouldn’t be going out in public, birthday parties, indoor go-karts, water parks, or fairs. We had to spend Halloween and Christmas at Riley.
Everything you take for granted is yanked out from underneath you. Cancer owns you at this point, and you just have to fight through each moment with confidence that there is a light at the end of this tunnel of darkness.
As of April of last year, Zane managed to get through the rest of his treatment! We got to visit friends at the beach on Spring Break, and back to school he went! He finished 5th grade, got to ride in a tank that summer (HIS DREAM), and he got to go back to being a kid again. He could have friends over again, go out to public places, and only have to visit Riley once a month – as long as he was feeling ok.
I’ve never been so happy to see that he could have some freedom! Things seem to be getting back to normal, or the idea of normal. Two years in, one-and-a-half to go.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story about Zane. No love is deeper than a parent’s love for their child.
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