How I Knew My Son Had Leukemia
Updated: Feb 17, 2022
My son, Lincoln, was diagnosed with Leukemia in July 2020. I didn’t even know how to spell Leukemia when he got diagnosed. I felt overwhelmed, undereducated and scared. His symptoms were bazaar and not particularly alarming. Read along to hear more about our story.
Sitting inside a hospital room next to your kid thinking, “There’s just no way”.
I didn’t even know how to spell Leukemia when he got diagnosed. I felt overwhelmed, undereducated and scared. His symptoms were bazaar and not particularly alarming.
His first symptom was unusual bruising. Now, when I say unusual you probably picture large bruises but it was the exact opposite. He had tiny bruises (about the size of my finger tip) throughout his body. Two in particular on the left side of his face and he couldn’t tell me where they came from.
As a mom (especially as a mom of four), I’m like - okayyy.. I know you guys mess around but is this normal? I pretty much raised an eyebrow and disregarded it.
Symptom number 2 was his bloody noses. Let me just say - we live in New Mexico. It’s freaking dry. My husband grew up with bloody noses and I would bet a stack of cash he had his finger up there multiple times a day at that age.
I need to also remind readers that this was July 2020. What was I supposed to do? Take my kid into an emergency room in the middle of a worldwide pandemic because of a bloody nose? No one was being seen in person for regular check ups at the time and ERs were an obvious “danger zone”.
It just didn’t feel right at the time.
Symptom number 3 was the straw that broke my back.
Petechiae. Petechiae (Puh-teek-ee-i) was slightly alarming, unlike the first two.
Little clusters of tiny red dots (as if someone took a red pen/sharpie and drew polka dots) showed up on his back, neck and face and THAT was it. I made a phone call.
I’m beyond grateful for his pediatrician. He was absolutely amazing through all of this. He had me upload photos of all the bruising and “little red dots” as I’d described them and then immediately sent us for labs.
I live about 6 minutes from the clinic and the moment I walked through the door he was already calling me calmly instructing us to go to the hospital. Lincoln had just turned 4. It was the 4th of July and we had plans to go see fireworks. I had no idea the severity of the situation.
We were admitted 1 hour later and 24 hours after that we had the word “Leukemia” written on a white board in big blue letters accompanied by “cancer.gov”.
I was alone with him when the first provider told me they thought it was cancer. Again, I had no idea the severity of the situation and I really wasn’t expecting it.
When you are told that your child has cancer, you immediately think, “Is he going to die”. It’s something no parent should ever have to go through.
I started to cry. Didn’t want to do that- but I did. I started to completely panic until Lincoln looked up from his Nintendo and said, “What’s wrong, mom?” I told myself I’d never let him see me cry over this again. I needed to be strong. Having just gone though a cancer diagnosis myself I felt like I had a unique perspective and I was in the best position to do just that.
I’m not the same person I was before Lincoln’s diagnosis and I’m not the same person I was before my own diagnosis.
These things wildly change you.
Link isn’t even finished with treatment yet and he’s endured more pain and hardship than I’ve ever seen a person endure.
No mother should ever have to let go of their child while he’s fully panicked, out of breath and screaming, “What’s going to happen?” No child should ever have to mutter the words, “I wish this wasn’t real” or “I wish it was tomorrow.”
From the day Lincoln was diagnosed I not only learned how to spell B-cell acute lymphoblastic LEUKEMIA but I learned about being immunocompromised, absolute neutrophil count (ANC), platelets, hemoglobin, gabapentin, dexamethasone, methotrexate, lumbar punctures and mercaptopurine (6MP). There's more but I can’t spell them. I’m kidding- I googled all the words in this paragraph.
If you’re looking for a practical way to help I encourage you to reach out to your local hospital and ask them what their needs are. These hospitals do NOT have the type of budget people assume they have. Snacks, toys or prizes to make kids smile, extra clothing for accidents - none of that stuff is typically on hand.
GIVE GENEROUSLY to those funding the research for better and less toxic treatments.
Lincoln has been put on the “In Honor Cookie” page of the Cookies for Kids Cancer page where 100% of the profits from our cookie sales are donated to childhood cancer research.
And more importantly than anything pray. Please pray for those who are going through treatment. Pray for the kids who are suffering and pray for their families. Pray for strength and healing. Pray.