Meet Anderson – Retinoblastoma Warrior
"The travel to and from the numerous doctor's visits can add up in gas and mileage, and we have been blessed by The National Children's Cancer Society," – John, Anderson's father.
When ten year-old Anderson complained of chest pains in the middle of the night his parents thought it was a pulled muscle. Anderson was an avid baseball player and had just had his weekly batting lesson a few days before. The next day he woke up ready to cheer on his brother at his swim meet but about halfway through the meet Anderson began crying and saying that his chest hurt again and he could not breathe well. Worried it might be the start of pneumonia, his parents took him to the local ER where x-rays were taken. They were told it was likely the start of a virus along with a pulled muscle and were sent home.
As the weekend progressed, Anderson’s symptoms worsened. He began vomiting and running a high fever. After visiting their pediatrician, they were advised to take him to the hospital for more tests. The doctors at the hospital decided to admit him since his bloodwork was a little suspicious. After one night in the hospital, Anderson’s family received the news no parent ever wants to hear. The doctors informed them that Anderson’s blood was showing “blasts” indicating that he had leukemia. One more test would need to be done to confirm the diagnosis. With broken hearts, they went to Anderson’s room to tell him.
The next morning, the final test confirmed that Anderson had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The next few days were a whirlwind as Anderson was taken into surgery to implant a port and begin his first round of chemotherapy.
The first month of treatment proved challenging as Anderson developed a life-threatening infection due to a perforation in his intestines. After the surgery, Anderson was on a ventilator for eleven days while his body continued to fight. Anderson’s hospital stay was a total of nine weeks, including two weeks in the Rehabilitation Unit where he had to learn to walk again since the infection had moved into the upper muscles of his right leg. He still receives weekly physical therapy.
Anderson is currently in remission and in the maintenance stage of chemotherapy. He has less than two years of treatment left and is handling it all like a champ. He still has difficulty running, but it has not stopped him from getting back out on the field and playing his favorite sport, baseball.
“Even though we are over the rough part, we continue to be mindful of the complications that can arise as part of his continued therapy. There are also long term effects that may come up later in life as a result of chemotherapy,” said Anderson’s father, John.
“The National Children’s Cancer organization has been vital in helping us through our struggles,” said John. “The travel to and from the numerous doctor’s visits can add up in gas and mileage, and we have been blessed by The National Children’s Cancer Society as they’ve provided support to us during the difficult times. The NCCS is an organization well worth supporting as it helps families dealing with the realities of childhood cancer.”