By Allison Gray
We all see stories on the news or in the paper about a child who is sick and in the hospital. Those stories are sad, and you think, “Oh that poor little kid” and, “Thank goodness that’s not us.” A few years ago we became one of those families. Alex, the younger of our two sons, was born in June of 2007 with a serious bacterial infection. The infection was throughout his entire body, and his organs were shutting down. They weren’t sure he was going to make it through that first night, and we were prepared each day that he would not likely survive. It was minute to minute for a long time, but our little guy proved strong. He was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for 48 days before he was able to come home, still weak and fragile. Those 48 days seemed like 48 years at the time, and we were happy to move on with our lives. Today, Alex is a healthy child, looking forward to his fifth birthday. However, that’s not where the story ended for us.
Just after Alex’s first birthday, our older son Matt was diagnosed with leukemia (AML). He was three and a half, and of course it was a complete shock. We had taken him to the pediatrician for an ear infection that wasn’t going away. Matt had an aggressive form of leukemia that typically responds poorly to standard chemotherapy. Also, Matt’s leukemia cells had a genetic abnormality that put him in a poor prognosis category and required that he have a bone marrow transplant. One of the happiest memories I have is the day we found out that Alex was a perfect match and would be his brother’s donor. Matt endured three rounds of chemotherapy over four months and was in remission to proceed with the bone marrow transplant (BMT) in December of 2008. It was one of the first performed at Levine Children’s Hospital (LCH), and we are so thankful to have such an amazing hospital right here at home. Matt was a brave little warrior. His transplant was successful, and he celebrated his three-year BMT anniversary this past December.
LCH is a very special place to our family. Our kids received the best care, and I mean BEST care every single day. Neither of our boys was given a good chance of survival, and we attribute their amazing outcomes to the doctors and nurses at LCH and the difficult decision they made. We have two happy, healthy kids, and we want to give back to LCH however we can. That’s why we support the good works of the Carolinas KIDS Cancer Research Coalition. They are dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer research and services at Levine Children’s Hospital. The Coalition has received commitments of $5.7 million to support Phase I and Phase II clinical research trials, which provide enhanced treatment options to children in the Carolinas who are battling cancer. While there are other worthy charities, the Coalition allowed us to stay together as a family where we have our built-in supports – our friends, neighbors, family and church.
If telling our story can bring hope to another family or can make people aware of the services offered at LCH right here in Charlotte, maybe we’ll save someone the heartache of going out of town for treatment. We’re sure happy we were sent there.
For more information on the Carolinas KIDS Cancer Research Coalition, click here.