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Lake was a healthy, active 5-year-old in kindergarten at this time last year. He was playing baseball and getting ready to celebrate his sixth birthday. Early that spring, he started getting ear infections along with random fevers that his pediatrician would treat but then would come right back. It had us all stumped because he was never sick. This went on for a couple of months. It was at the end of baseball season and he had just made the summer All-Star travel team. It was also almost the end of school, but Lake was acting very sluggish. He started coming home from school and sleeping all afternoon and through the night. He just wasn’t the same wild and funny little boy everyone knew. My mother’s instinct kicked in, and I took him back to the pediatrician the day after Mother’s Day. May 14, our whole world changed in just hours.
Our pediatrician did blood work, and after reading the result, he immediately sent us to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta where Lake was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We were in shock, devastated and so scared. These things just don’t happen to your child; you only see and hear these stories in commercials. The next day, we were given all the information and possibilities of what could and what was going to happen. Lake had his central line put in the next day and was moved to the Aflac Cancer Center at Egleston where we remained for the rest of his treatment. He started chemo the next day. In a matter of 48 hours, we learned our 5-year-old had cancer. It was a lot to take, but we just prayed and trusted that God would help us through.
It turned out Lake had some genetic factors that put him in a group for low risk for relapse and a very good outlook as far as remission. Also, he didn’t need to have a bone marrow transplant, which was great news. He started the process of four rounds of intensive chemotherapy, during which he would have to stay in the hospital for four to six weeks at a time. Needless to say, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center floor at Egleston became our second home for the next six months. Lake handled the chemotherapy great and went into remission after the first round.
He was a little Superman. He would set his chemotherapy and then be riding a tricycle in circles around the nurses’ station. He did not have many side effects from the chemotherapy, which was awesome. During treatment, his appendix ruptured, so he had to have it removed. He had one infection that caused high fevers, but other than that, we were blessed with how well he handled his treatments. In between treatments, he was able to come home for a few weeks. But he was very limited in what he could do or where he could go because his immune system was compromised.
He finished his treatment around Halloween in October 2012. He is still in remission and has gotten back into life. He returned to school where he got right back into the swing of things. He played basketball this winter, and he played baseball this spring. Except for getting the flu and strep throat he has been doing great. His hair is back, and if you didn’t know he had been sick, you would never know now. While he never wants to go back, the Aflac Cancer Center was an amazing place, and we loved everyone there. We made so many friends and lasting relationships with other families, the nurses and the doctors. We just feel so blessed to be able to share our story of hope and that happy endings do exist. We are still in a very sensitive place as far as his remission, but we have faith he will stay in remission. We hope he will be cancer free soon enough. I am so proud to be his mom. He went through something that a child should never have to endure and handled it like a champ. I only wish that all cancer stories were like ours, but they are not, and that is very hard to take. We just pray every night for Lake’s continued remission and for all those children who still battle cancer. We are truly blessed.