Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Light The Night Honored Hero: RJ Ross

In North Texas, we treasure our incredible Honored Heroes.  An Honored Hero is a person currently in treatment for a blood cancer or a survivor who supports The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in a number of different ways.  Our Honored Heroes participate in events, speak on our behalf to raise awareness, fundraise, etc.  Most importantly, our Honored Heroes remind us of why we work so hard to find cures for blood cancers.

Today we are thrilled to introduce you to Reginald "RJ" Ross, the 2014 Dallas Light The Night Walk Honored Hero.   Read below to learn why we believe RJ makes the perfect Honored Hero.

Reginald "RJ" Ross was diagnosed with high risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on March 9, 2013 after being seen for a nagging cough and night sweats. He had also been experiencing fevers and ear infections over a few months to which his parents and doctor thought were related to daycare exposure and cold and flu season. Being in the doctor's office every other week was becoming the norm. 

One Saturday morning, his mother felt a sudden urge to have him seen by his pediatrician instead of waiting until the following Monday. A pediatrician examined him that day and noticed his skin looked pale and that his liver felt distended and enlarged. The physician urged them to go to the emergency room immediately with congestive heart failure being a possible concern. The preliminary diagnosis came back and was a shock.  He was admitted to the ICU with a dangerously low hemoglobin count, began getting oxygen, blood transfusions, and started chemotherapy a couple days later. 

From that point on, RJ began his journey to get in front of his illness and keep it behind him for good. His first hospital stay was scary for him due to the strange faces and constant needle pricks, but with lots of prayer and family at his side, the experience became a bit more bearable each day. He responded to treatment immediately with no signs of leukemia in his blood the first week and little to no side effects from the drugs. After eight days between ICU and the oncology floors, RJ was released from the hospital and began to show an amazing amount of energy not seen in months. Three weeks later, his parents received the call that his bone marrow test results were back and he was in "complete remission" with absolutely no leukemia (0.00%) detectable in his blood or spinal fluid. This was a hallelujah moment and the news strengthened his family's faith even more. 

RJ's parents believe God's healing power and great care from doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital in Dallas have proved miraculous thus far. RJ has quickly become a favorite with all of the oncology staff. The showering of support from such a large magnitude of family, friends & even strangers world wide has kept his parents in great spirits. Their faith in God continues to get them through these life-altering times. 

RJ's parents describe him as strong, smart, energetic, and so full of life that his spirit is simply contagious - like his full personality has finally been set free. He loves singing, animals, toys, reading books, playing on his iPad, and soaking up sunshine whenever possible. Being in his presence and watching him overcome his circumstances has been inspiring to many. He still has many weeks & months of treatment ahead but with much prayer there is much power and this family is determined to tap into that power at all times.

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