as told by his mom, Danielle.
It has been two and half years since our amazing son was diagnosed with cancer, and it still feels surreal to write about this.
On March 13, 2014, two weeks before Matthew’s third birthday, the emergency room doctor took my husband and me into a quiet room to tell us some news. Nothing could have prepared us for what we were about hear.
We had brought Matthew into Emergency that night because he seemed to have a bad cold and had begun limping occasionally. The resident had asked us to continue the cycle of antibiotics that Matthew was on and to add some Advil to take away any inflammation in the hips. He was about to let us go home. The doctor who was on noticed bruising all over Matthew’s legs, and that Matthew had tiny petechial dots all over him, so decided to run a blood test and asked us to stay…little did we know the hospital was about to become our new second home.
Our son wasn’t producing healthy blood cells and was diagnosed with high risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Chemotherapy, blood transfusions, inserting a port into Matthew’s chest…this was part of the hustle and bustle of the days after diagnosis. Our heads were spinning. How can this be happening to a two-year-old? I remember when Renee from Childcan walked into our room. I had no idea who she was and I am pretty sure I was instantly babbling to her and asking her medical questions. Luckily, she understood.
Childcan was the first interaction of our wonderful childhood cancer family opening its arms to us and letting us know we weren’t alone.
Matthew was supposed to go into remission within the first month. That didn’t happen. He had become a very high risk patient; if the next cycle of chemotherapy didn’t put him into remission, the next step was bone marrow transplant. Fortunately, the next round did put him into remission but Matthew’s treatment was far from smooth. He had all kinds of other problems from all his new medicine and a compromised immune system. Our poor boy fought off pneumonia, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, c. diff, and much more. Our hospital stays were constant in the first year, with more family time spent in-hospital than in our own home. And the second year, it seemed like the hospital stays had become more like monthly instead of weekly or bi-weekly.
During all of this, we were by Matthew’s side…it was the only option. Matthew’s big sister, Emily, played the important role of being a kid with Matthew and he would light up every time she came into the room. It was nearly impossible to work consistently, and we have been so thankful Childcan was there for us when things got rough.
Matthew continues to fight through his chemotherapy treatments and is due to end his treatment on June 25th, 2017. In the meantime, having the community of other childhood cancer families that we have met through organizations like Childcan has been so helpful. If unexpected situations arise, we know we have support in so many ways. Childcan not only gives us our support group and financial support, but they have also given us some wonderful “normal” times with the annual Christmas party and Canada’s Wonderland trips that our whole family look forward to every year.
Our family is so grateful to have Childcan in our community and fighting by our side.