Erica and Chris’s Story of Hope Transcript:
Before our son’s cancer diagnosis, we were just a regular young family. Two kids – our daughter was one and a half, almost two, something like that. I was a teacher, he was a lawyer, so we were just average people.
In a matter of half a day, everything about your life is different. Aiden’s diagnosis came the week that he turned five, so it was five days before his fifth birthday. We noticed some small bruises on him, and the thing that I really noticed, that I thought was strange, was this rash.
So we went to our local hospital, and by that evening, by dinnertime, we were flown to Cook Children’s and had a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL. It’s one of the most common childhood cancers, and then about a week later, we found out he got the “extra” version, which is called Philadelphia Positive ALL.
What we had been told about how easy leukemia was to treat was all out the window after that. So we went from living in San Angelo, and by the end of the day, it was a Monday, by the end of that day, we were separated. And that lasted for ten and a half months, we were separated the first time.
And since then, Aiden has just– we’ve learned that his disease is very aggressive and very hard to treat, and it’s been treatment to relapse, to treatment to relapse.
I believe it was the hospital that gave us the booklet of “You have no idea what’s going on or what you’re doing, and life is crazy”, so here is some resources to help you, and Cancer Care’s services was one of those.
I think, generally, when you reach out to any of these foundations that help with cancer, it’s generally financial assistance, so I think that was our initial expectation. But what we have learned about Cancer Care since we’ve relocated to this area is they actually provide a lot more services than just financial assistance.
Like with our family, Ella’s been receiving therapy there, Aiden’s sister. And just recently, Cancer Care was able to hire a new therapist, which has been a way that Erica’s been able to go and get services there, too. So as Cancer Care grows, then they’re just able to do more and more.
Our kids just got to go to camp this summer, and it was their first time to do anything like that. So they got to go fishing and swimming, and they absolutely loved that.
But to have him away from us all day, you know, he takes a lot of work and a lot of medicines, and, you know, a lot of upkeep.
Dropping him off for all-day camp was a milestone for sure.
I think it would definitely be detrimental to the community to lose access to Cancer Care Services because it is so comprehensive and well-rounded, and it’s access to the whole family, not just the patient, which is so important with a diagnosis like this because it’s just not the patient who’s sick; it’s the whole family.
Hopefully, one day, this is all just a memory that’s in our past and behind us.
Transcribed by: Kirbi T.
From Caregiver to Cancer Patient…
Erica and Chris hoped this would be the extent of their family’s cancer journey. But unfortunately, it wasn’t. Erica was later diagnosed with breast cancer – throwing her family back into the chaos, and loneliness, of cancer.“As a mom, we have other women we can ask about diaper cream, sleep training, and rashes. That amount of support evaporates overnight with a child’s cancer diagnosis… and even my own. There is no park bench full of other moms who understand the strain of caring for a child with cancer. Cancer Care provides that support.” – Erica, Cancer Patient & Caregiver While a cancer diagnosis is typically isolating, Erica did not have to face the challenges of cancer alone. Cancer Care’s social work team became Erica’s steadfast “park bench” of support as she navigated cancer as a caregiver and patient.