Keira is the same age as her brother Dougles. Keira likes gymnastics and princesses.
Beginning around Christmas of 2019, Douglas began having pain near his left knee. After several trips to urgent care and our family doctor, I felt uneasy with his previous diagnoses and as a mother and nurse knew something else was wrong. I decided to skip work and drive him down to MUSC’s emergency department.
On January 31, 2020, after a full day of labs and imaging, I was greeted by the pediatric oncology team and was informed that it appeared Douglas had some type of cancer. Following a very long weekend, the next week consisted of more imaging and several biopsies to determine he had stage IV neuroblastoma. The 10cmX10cmX10cm tumor on his right adrenal gland had metastasized to multiple areas of his body, but had it not been for the leg pain, and ultimate fracture, we would not have known.
Treatment was started within days of his diagnosis and he was in the hospital for about 25 days during the initial admit. My husband and I spent every day and night with him. My mother and mother in law came from out of state quickly to help with our two daughters. I made the decision to take a leave of absence from the MUSC DNP program I had started the year before and to take a leave of absence from work to be with Douglas daily, which ultimately led to me being “let go” since his treatment is still ongoing.
He has endured six rounds of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, two stem cell transplants, and is currently doing daily radiation treatments until immunotherapy begins. Although he has shown me what being tough truly means, he has moments that he doesn’t understand why this is happening and why his life has to be so different than his sister’s or friend’s. He doesn’t understand why he can’t go shopping at Target or why we can’t take him to his favorite restaurant right now.
Of course, going from a two-income family to just one would be difficult for anyone. We didn’t really have an idea of how long his treatments would last. We still have the same bills and the same mouths to feed, but about half the income to do that with. When we were informed that we were going to be a Courageous Kidz Christmas sponsored family, we were ecstatic! We also felt relieved because we weren’t exactly sure how we could pull off a “Merry Christmas” when all three kids need it the most. With us just being discharged from his second stem cell transplant and jumping right into radiation, I had not had the time to think ahead to plan.
We have been blessed with a supportive family and wonderful doctors and nurses with MUSC. Being sponsored for Christmas is a whole new level of support that we are so thankful for, and will make a huge difference in my children’s lives.