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In April 3-year-old Cyrus complained of some pain in his hand to his mom, Kaylee. He had just accidentally closed his hand in the door, so this seemed like an obvious result. The next day, his pain had not stopped and so they took him to an urgent care facility. After an x-ray, it turned out Cyrus had dislocated his elbow and fractured his elbow and wrist. They had no idea how it had happened and were worried that they could not explain such a serious injury. Two weeks later, Cyrus couldn’t stay asleep and began crying due to intense leg pain. The next day, x-rays were taken of his legs, however, the doctor could not find anything that would be causing him so much discomfort.
Cyrus was then referred to the AdventHealth for Children emergency room. Kaylee began to feel like something was really wrong based on the types of questions she was being asked. “Has he had any weight loss recently? Has he been bruising easily?” She had explained those questions away with growth spurts and running around like a toddler, but after they did more bloodwork, the doctor sat her and her husband down and told them it was leukemia.
Cyrus was admitted to AdventHealth for Children that Friday and for the next eleven days, he underwent various procedures like a lumbar puncture, bone marrow biopsy, and chemotherapy. After nearly two weeks Cyrus was able to go home but has continued outpatient treatments. Currently, he is on a chemotherapy hold due to low immune system counts and is waiting for them to come back up and begin phase three.
The family has loved their doctors and nurses at AdventHealth for Children. Not only have they been kind and understanding, but they’ve gone above and beyond for Cyrus. It’s incredibly tough for a child not only to be in a lot of pain but also to try and understand their situation. Naturally, he resisted having an IV put in, but the child life team at AdventHealth for Children visited Cyrus to help distract him with fun toys and activities. They tried their best to distract him from the pain of the needles but gave him plenty of space when he wanted it.
On one occasion, the child life team brought Cyrus a bus and asked if he would like to play with it. He declined and asked if they had any fire trucks since his dad is a fireman. Our child life specialist said let me find one and immediately after leaving the room, she said “I need a firetruck.” You could hear the whole team help look for one. Sure enough, she brought two back in and Cyrus has loved her ever since.
Vanessa on our oncology unit helped their family by spending time explaining how Kaylee and her husband could talk to their other children about what is going on with Cyrus. When the other kids did come to visit, she stayed the entire time and allowed room for questions. Anytime they are back at AdventHealth, she comes to check on them. “The team knows what he likes, what his favorite color is, and treats him like an individual even though they have so many patients to look after.”
Cyrus just finished interim maintenance and will begin delayed intensification on September 20. Over the course of eight weeks, he will receive several chemotherapies, both in the hospital and at home. One of the new chemotherapies he’ll be receiving, Doxorubicin will cause his hair to fall out, and his immune system to plummet. Kaylee describes him as a "little warrior" and the family hopes he sails through this round of treatment.
Communicating cancer to Cyrus has been challenging because he is just three years old. They try to be open and honest with him. “Because he hasn’t had chemo in a few weeks, he is starting to feel better and asks if he can go places. We have to explain that he is still sick and that is why we still visit the doctors to get him medicine.” What can be even more difficult is explaining what is going on to Cyrus’ siblings. His twin had a difficult time because suddenly, Mom and Dad had to spend so much time at the hospital while his twin sister was cared for by other family. The older kids were incredibly patient and kind throughout this entire process. They took on extra responsibilities and although they were scared, tried hard to do what was best for the family.
Cyrus’s father Bryan had a tough time processing the diagnosis. As a firefighter, he had been trained to treat every medical situation the same to ensure minimal errors, but this was different. He felt as if he couldn’t save his son from his illness, his other kids from loss of innocence, and his wife from her fear of losing a child. For Kaylee, it was hard to believe such a positive prognosis, and she thought she would soon have to say goodbye to her baby boy. It was very tough on both parents since they felt they could not do much to protect their family.
Luckily, their community really rallied around them through it all. They did it all from caring for Cyrus' siblings, paying for mental health services, covering shifts for Bryan at the firehouse, planning meals, and raising funds for their hospital bills so that so Mom and Dad could focus on caring for Cyrus.
To learn how you can help during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month click here.