You want to know our story?? It all began last year and what the doctors thought was an ear infection and a couple of trips to the urgent care. When I took him to the pediatrician she wanted to give him a shot but before she did she had to do a CBC (blood count). They got the results quick and Gavin’s hemoglobin was 5.5 normally they transfuse when someone is below 8. He was abnormally low and our pediatrician sent us to Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) emergency room. I had no idea whether to be concerned or not, I had a great friend come and sit with me. Sam my Husband was at work in San Antonio where we were currently living however, I was back in Houston visiting our family. So doctors were coming in and out of the room and asking questions and looking at Gavin. This next part I remember like nothing else the doctor came in and said we are hoping for sepsis at this point I was convinced that my son was DYING. I began to demand answers on what in the world was going on and they continued to tell me to give them time. Sam and I were in constant communication and he was trying to get to Houston he ended up driving to Austin and flying home. The next thing I remember is the doctors walking in and Sam calling because he had just landed and then the doctor and a team walked in, he began introducing everyone but once the words and “this is the Chaplin” all of the blood rushed out of my body and I couldn’t feel anything. Luckily I was sitting in the bed with Gavin. Then we get the most terrifying news CANCER!!!! I began to cry and not just any cry a whale you see I lost my mom to brain cancer in 2008 and my grandpa to cancer in 2000. I just couldn’t do it. This was not fair this was not a fight I wanted and I was not prepared for anything that was going to happen. After I was able to calm down a bit and we were able to talk to doctors we were unsure which cancer Gavin had. They weren’t sure if it was AML or ALL they said you want ALL it is the better kind I thought “better kind” what do you mean. So once we got the news we began calling our family members and telling them what was going on. The emergency room began to become flooded with family members of course the person I wanted to see the most was already in heaven and I felt so alone even though I was surrounded by family not that they are not important there are just times in your life where you need your mom. So the next week was crazy from getting all this information on how long this process would take to all the side effects that our son would and could be facing.
We began Chemo later that night once we got the diagnosis it was the next day July 31, 2015. We stayed in the hospital till they got everything under control. Gavin had to get a blood transfusion one of many that he has had to date. My next thought was we have to tell our daughter and try to explain this whole crazy thing. Thankfully we had TCH on our side they have an amazing child life department that helps with all of these types of things.
Once we began outpatient treatment we started to get in a groove. As I mentioned before we lived in SA we had just moved there a few months before so we had decided Gavin was going to be treated at TCH and we were moving back. So are family really came in to play they helped pack and move our stuff and I (Jacqueline) stayed back with our children. We had no clue how are lives were going to change in the coming months. We were supposed to go to clinic once a week and get chemo and they would always check his counts. Well on our second week of going to outpatient clinic Gavin’s numbers were not where they needed to be and we had to increase chemo. You see the first cycle is 28 days long and they need the cancer cells to be at a certain number for you to be a success otherwise your child is an “induction failure” and you go straight to bone marrow transplant. So because of this we now had to come to clinic twice a week and the extra chemo was working we were an induction SUCCESS!!! You think okay we got this…no we still have 3 years and 5 months because he is a boy: girls have 2 ½ years. We had long days we would get to clinic at 7:00am and would close the clinic at 9:00 pm that is a long day. I wanted to be there with my son but you see I was missing my daughter. You may think but, you were only gone one day a week but, even when I was home with her I couldn’t be with her because Gavin needed me. He was attached and not just like a normal 2 year old, he would latch on and not want to let go. I have gone through so many phases with my Abbey that I could go on forever but the best ones are when she just comes up to me and gives me the biggest and tightest hugs, you moms know what I am talking about the hug that makes every trouble in the world go away; she has that power in my eyes. We have gone through countless lumbar punctures where a needle goes into our son’s spine to inject chemo. We have gotten chemo that we have to carry an epi pen with for two weeks after he receives PEG-asparaginase (peg) , chemo that we Sam and I have given to Gavin through his port and now oral chemo he gets every night. Just recently we had a bad episode where Gavin had no desire to take his medicine it took Sam and me everything we could do to get the pills in his mouth and get him to swallow. You heard that right our now 3 year old can swallow pills. Let’s just say by the end of that night we were all in tears including our sweet Abbey.
When your child has CANCER everyone in the family has it because your whole world stops for over a year we couldn’t go to church, go on vacation, go to family gatherings and even had to cancel our daughter’s birthday because Gavin’s immune system was too low. We have had so many roller coaster rides and I have described some however, there are many more and we want to help other families that are or will be embarking on this journey that no one wants to be on. This is not a ride you are anxiously awaiting to jump on or can’t wait to tell your friends about because you don’t want anyone to have to endure the heartache, pain, sorrow and change that arrive after hearing “YOUR CHILD HAS CANCER”