as told by his mom, Nikki.
Quinton was born on August 19th, 2015, a healthy 8 lbs 1 ounce, with lovely soft brown hair and beautiful blue eyes.
Shortly before his first Christmas, we went to my parents’ house to enjoy a family gathering. The day was wonderful, filled with laughter, delicious food, and even an early visit from Santa.
When Quinton awoke from his nap that afternoon, he seemed irritable and hot to the touch. That night, he continued to be restless so, the following morning, I took him to our local hospital, where the doctor found he had an ear infection.
Unfortunately, Quinton did not respond well to the new medication. Each hour, his condition seemed to worsen. Back at the hospital, he was taken for x-rays which revealed pneumonia. The doctors in our small town decided his care was beyond what they could provide and we were sent by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in London, Ontario.
There, the ER doctors and nurses were concerned that Quinton had become severely dehydrated. A central line would be needed.
It would be impossible to put into words the horror of the following hours. It is extremely challenging to get a needle into the vein of a baby and, in a severely dehydrated infant, near impossible. After several hours and countless attempts, one of the doctors was able to secure access. My husband and I assumed a day or so in hospital and then we’d be sent home. We were sadly mistaken.
I have read articles and talked to a few unfortunate parents about what it felt like when they heard the diagnosis. Shock, disbelief, anger, despair. I will never forget the moment when the doctor explained what Quinton’s blood culture had revealed. It was three days before Christmas and my husband and I were seated in a private cubicle with an attending physician. He told us in the most direct and compassionate way possible that our beloved four-month old son had a cancer known as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or A.L.L. He would need a lumbar puncture, a bone marrow test and a Broviac inserted into his chest in order to receive chemotherapy.
At first, my husband and I wondered if it was right to inflict such pain on our sweet little baby. After a great deal of tears, my husband finally concluded, “I don’t think I’m ready to say goodbye to him yet.” And with that, we agreed to let the doctors do all that was possible to save our son.
Quinton was diagnosed with high risk A.L.L. Because of his very young age and the gene rearrangement of the disease, his form of leukemia would be particularly difficult to treat. It was unknown at that point how he would respond. The doctors did know that he would not leave the hospital for at least four to six months, possibly longer. Treatment would last into his third year. We were told to be prepared for immediate and future side effects from the medications he would be receiving.
One of the initial visits we received during our first day was from the Family Support worker from Childcan. She gave us information for important resources, meal vouchers and a parking pass, and reassured us that we were not alone.
The day before Christmas, Quinton was taken for surgery for the placement of his Broviac central line and his bone marrow biopsy. During that time, he received his initial dose of chemotherapy.
And so began our journey.
After seven months of treatment, they tell us that Quinton’s prognosis is good. We have also been told that a similar diagnosis ten years ago would not have been as favourable. Research on the treatment of childhood cancer is essential to help the thousands of children who are diagnosed with this life-threatening disease.
We have endured many difficult days, yet we have never felt alone. The supports from the hospital and community have allowed us to keep our focus on our son.
Thanks to so many amazing professionals, support systems and medical innovations, my family has hope. As Quinton approaches his first birthday, I am allowing myself to look into his future. It is filled with many more birthday cakes, candles and wishes to be made. And each year, when he blows out his candles, I will make my own single wish that we will one day find a cure to end all childhood cancers.