Meet King, he is 6-years-old and currently battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
On Monday, June 6th, 2016, King, at 2-years-old, was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His treatment plan is three-and-a-half years of daily chemotherapy. He receives oral chemo daily – intravenous and spinal. King also has an enzyme deficiency called G6PD that complicates his treatment. It is a rare and deadly combination to have both G6PD and leukemia. G6PD is lifelong and there is no cure. Leukemia affects his white blood cells and G6PD affects his red blood cells. Avoidance of G6PD triggers is critical as the consequences require a blood transfusion and can be fatal.
King currently takes over 70 pills monthly and that amount will continue to increase as his weight increases. King has many side effects, with the two severe ones being brain swelling and nerve damage. He actually lost the ability to walk for months, but thankfully we were able to rehabilitate him and if you saw him today, you would never know about his previous condition.
King is truly a walking miracle. He goes through things that many adults are not able to tolerate. He’s had more spinal taps in two-and-a-half years than an average adult will have in their lifetime. We are infinitely grateful for each and every day King wakes up to spend another day with us. He’s a warrior with the heart of a lion. We know he will be the change we wish to see in the world.
I work full-time, but my husband (who has a bachelor’s degree in Nursing) stays home with King and his siblings full-time. Although surviving on one income has caused a financial strain on the family and an increase in King’s medical collection debt, King’s health has significantly improved since my husband made the decision to be his primary caretaker.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it affects the entire family. Many survivors deal with chronic medical issues once the treatment is completed. Treatment should not be able to cause secondary cancer. Yet, pediatric cancer is heavily underfunded. We are childhood cancer advocates and believe research funding is important as it can lead to less-toxic treatment and cures. Most patients die from the complications associated with cancer and its treatment. We are on a mission to spread global awareness about childhood cancer in hopes that one day that enough research is done to be able to declare cancer a thing of the past. All children deserve to grow up!
Despite all that King has been through and continues to go through, he is always smiling and inspires us and countless others daily. King does not let anything stop him and neither will we. Cancer does not define us, we define cancer.