name='p:domain_verify'/> Always A New Day : A Mom's Heart - Connor's Story


A Mom's Heart - Connor's Story

September is a time to go GOLD for pediatric cancer awareness, and I knew I could not share information about this month without going into the heart of someone I love and someone who has a great deal to teach all of us.

Once upon a time in my teaching career,  I had this feisty, smart, and strong girl in my English class. From the day I met her, I knew she was a fighter and that she could hold her own. Fast forward a few years later, and she came back to visit. This time, she came back with her sweet baby boy, Connor. I remember holding that sweet babe - just in awe that my former student was now a mommy. So imagine my heartbreak to learn that Connor was diagnosed with Leukemia just a couple of years ago. My heartache does not compare to what his sweet mommy has felt or what this sweet boy has had to endure.

I am so honored that Lauren has offered to share Connor's story. I pray you hear her words. I pray you hug your babies tighter. And pray for both this sweet mama and her son. Here is her story.

Just a quick intro about myself: my name is Lauren, and I'm an oilfield wife and SAHM to three amazing kids: Connor, Chason, and Caiah. Our journey began almost two years to the date. Connor had just started first grade; we moved back to Texas, and our little girl Caiah was just born. My oldest son Connor became really sick back in September of 2014. We took him to an urgent care facility where he was diagnosed with strep throat. They gave him antibiotics and said within a couple of days he should feel better. Those days came and went; his condition never got better.

The next day we took him to his pediatrician who then diagnosed him with a virus. He told us a virus can stay anywhere from 7-14 days and just let it take its course. After day seven, his pediatrician decided to do some blood work. He said they could test him for some viruses and see what was causing all of Connor's symptoms. After two panels of tests, everything came back negative. Back to square one.

Three days after his testing, Connor's fever finally reached over 105. We made yet another trip to the doctor's office where his pediatrician was extremely concerned and referred us to an Infectious Disease doctor. That week included more blood work and an unsettling phone call. The doctor had called me that evening and said, "Connor's blood work raises some concerns. His tests show inflammation within his body and some of his results were slightly abnormal. He needs to be seen by a Hematologist but that could take weeks before anyone knows anything. I really suggest you go to Texas Children's Emergency Department, and I will send his lab results." This is where life changed.

That night after spending hours in the ER, we were escorted to the 9th floor. The Cancer Center. We were told that results showed our next step would be Oncology, but we would know more in the morning. The doctors explained to us that a bone marrow biopsy would be needed and that we would have more answers as to what was causing everything. That night I didn't sleep well. Connor's dad stayed with him that night, and I rushed back to the hospital as early as I could the following morning.

September 26, 2014. The day we heard those four words: "Your child has cancer." I couldn't believe it. I looked at Connor, and I just couldn't believe that my sweet innocent child had a much bigger battle at his feet. The oncologists told us that Connor's diagnosis was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL. A blood cancer that occurs within lymphocytes. That day is still a little fuzzy because the PTSD had set in.

The following day is when treatment started. Connor received his first LP (lumbar puncture) with chemo. The doctors would also test his spinal fluid to see if the leukemia cells traveled to his spinal fluid. This test came back negative. We thank God everyday for those results. That initial week when I heard the word chemotherapy, I broke down. However, day three was our turning point. Day three is when Connor's fever finally broke, and he finally regained his color back. My son had fever for 21 days with no relief. He was finally eating again, and for the first time in three weeks, he smiled.

That's when I knew we could do this. We spent nine days at Texas Children's Hospital where Connor received eight rounds of chemo, two blood transfusions, and two different surgical procedures. We were finally released, but this was the beginning of a very long year. Thirty days after diagnosis, Connor was in remission but then diagnosed as Very High Risk ALL. He would receive chemo more frequently and at higher doses just to prevent relapse. That was a hard pill to swallow that day. More chemo.

Over the next 12 months, we spent a lot of time inside four walls. Chemotherapy kills your immune system. The slightest cough, sneeze, fever automatically sent us into panic mode and knew a hospital stay was in our future. Connor was hospitalized at least ten times within the first year of diagnosis. I remember another "Momcologist" (mom with a child in treatment) came up to me and said you will get this. It's a crazy world,  however you're strong enough to go through it. She was right. We made it through our hardest part and now we get to enjoy life a little more.

We have learned symptoms to look for, medical terminology, speak chemotherapy fluently, and even know protocol regarding treatment. After a long hard year, we finally made it to maintenance. Connor started third grade this year and is back at school. He is able to enjoy soccer and spend time with his friends once again.

Connor's treatment has involved different phases: induction, consolidation, intermittent maintenance 1, delayed intensification, intermittent maintenance 2, and maintenance. Connor's EOT (end of treatment) date as of now is February 5, 2018! Three and half years. Average treatment for girls is two years and boys is three and a half years. Boys go through treatment longer because leukemia cells like to hide in testicles. Being a Momcologist, you learn you have a voice. You speak for not only your children but for other children you have met and loved along the way. Spreading awareness and informing others around you cancer can happen at any moment.

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the U.S. One out of 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer. Forty-seven children are diagnosed, and seven lose their battle everyday. With a federal budget of 5.2 billion dollars each year, Childhood Cancer receives less than 4%. There are dozens of types of cancers and even countless subtypes that share $128 million. Pharmaceutical companies see no profit from childhood cancer drugs which is why childhood cancer is so underfunded.

Children deserve to grow up. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I simply ask for those reading this to spread awareness. My son's story is just one of 47 diagnosed September 26, 2014. Think of those who have gained their angel wings along their journey. Wear a gold ribbon. Donate to fundraisers who are making medical breakthroughs with childhood cancer. Alex's Lemonade Stand, St Jude's Children's Hospital, and St Baldrick's just to name a few. You can also learn more with Truth 65. Children are more precious than gold and deserve #MoreThan4 

To follow Connor's journey, please visit his page:
Lauren, you know I love you like crazy, and I am so thankful you found the perfect words to share  your sweet boy's story. You will reach many. My continued prayers for Connor and for you - you are stronger than you'll ever know.

Don't let September come and go without a prayer, some gold, or reaching out to one of the foundations she mentioned. Remember Lauren and Connor - he's a lucky boy to have a mama like her.

1 comment :

  1. Oh my goodness. What an amazing little boy. So small to be dealing with something so big. My prayers are with you.


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