Health Care

Day of Giving: Gavin's Story

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Gavin and his mom

October 1st, 2019 started off as a normal day for Becca Howell. She got the kids ready and dropped them off at school. After running some errands, she picked Gavin up in the afternoon for karate. He got his white belt and they went out to enjoy some celebratory tacos! At bath time he reached back for a toy and that’s when she noticed his ribcage projecting out. She tried not to panic while pretending to wash the area. It didn’t seem to bother him but she knew that something wasn’t right. She decided to take him to AdventHealth because of the wonderful care Gavin had received four years prior.

After running some tests on his blood, the E.R. doctor came in and felt Gavin’s abdomen. He looked at Becca with teary eyes and said he could feel Gavin’s spleen and liver, and they are looking at either a really bad virus or cancer. She felt like time froze in the E.R room and everything became fuzzy.

“In an instant our entire lives changed so quickly it was hard to keep up. Being brought to the 6th floor- pediatric oncology room 6210 was extremely surreal.”

On October 4th, Gavin had a liver resection done where they took his gallbladder and 3/4 of his liver because the cancer was consuming it. The tumor was 17cm or 6.7 inches long and weighed a couple pounds. Very large, especially for a small six-year-old boy. On October 21st he had his first round of chemotherapy and the family celebrated Halloween and Gavin’s 7th birthday in the hospital.

The chick-fil-a cow with Gavin

Gavin’s abdominal pains were not subsiding and after a couple of weeks, his abdomen remained extended. They discovered he had scar tissue in his lower intestines and prepared for yet another surgery two days before Thanksgiving. They then spent Christmas, New Years Eve, and Valentine’s Day in the hospital. But thankfully, Gavin rang the bell in February of 2020 with chemotherapy working so well, that they were able to change his radiation roadmap.

“I couldn’t have done this journey without my friends and family, and without AdventHealth. The nurses on the 6th floor became a family to us and I keep in touch with them now. They are amazing, beautiful people and the doctors truly care. These people saw my family in the rawest of forms and offered open arms for support. In the darkest of times, they were the light we needed to get through this.”

Gavin and his family overcame a huge obstacle that very few can overcome. With over 100,000 children in our hospital each year, many will experience a difficult diagnosis like his. You can provide real help to these families by covering everyday expenses such as transportation costs, utility bills, medical bills, groceries and even rent payments. Visit to make a gift

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