I remember the day Bennett was diagnosed like it was yesterday. It was a Saturday afternoon in April of 2011 and I was at the Dallas Galleria with my two older girls when my husband called me from the pediatrician’s office. Earlier that morning we had talked about taking Bennett in to the doctor’s office because he was developing red dots on his abdomen and back and had a slight fever. A rash, we thought. Keith’s voice sounded shaky as he tried to explain that Bennett needed a blood test and the doctor thought the red dots could indicate something was wrong with his bone marrow. Bone marrow? How could something be wrong with his bone marrow, I thought. Bennett was a healthy, adorable, 13 month old baby boy, who was full of energy and laughter. It was completely out of the blue when on that day, after a blood test at Children’s Medical Center, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Blood cancer.
Bennett soon had surgery to get a port placed in his upper chest area so he could begin getting chemotherapy. He also had a spinal tap to check for cancer cells in his spinal fluid and a bone marrow aspiration to detect what percentage of his marrow was cancerous. Bennett’s bone marrow was 86% cancerous. The cancer cells had almost completely crowded out the healthy blood cells. We soon learned that Bennett would require 39 months of chemotherapy to save his life. The first 10 months were the hardest to take. As a mother, I would have done anything to trade places with him. The amount of chemo he received was unfathomable, but he took it like a champ, and somehow we powered through the most difficult thing we had ever had to do.
I have learned a lot of facts about blood cancer since then. I learned that 50 years ago, the survival rate for ALL was less than 5%, now it is almost 90%. The amount of research that has gone into leukemia alone is outstanding. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has funded so much of the research that helped develop some of the chemotherapy drugs that saved Bennett’s life. My husband and I have participated in many races with Team In Training, and with our friends help, we have raised almost $160,000 for LLS. With Bennett as our inspiration, we will continue to raise money and awareness for blood cancer. We want to be a part of finding a cure!
Bennett is now three years old and has 15 months left of daily chemotherapy and monthly visits to the hospital. Bennett may have blood cancer, but blood cancer doesn’t have him. We know he will beat this, and our entire family will be stronger because of it!
If you would like to take time to honor a mother, like Kirsa, in your life please consider making a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this Mother's Day.
Make a donationonline and a letter of recognition of your gift will be sent to the mother you are honoring with your donation. You are also welcome to mail in a donation to: LLS, Attn: Mother's Day, 8111 LBJ Fwy., Ste 425, Dallas, TX 75251.
Thank you and Happy Mother's Day from the North Texas Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.