If you would like to learn more about my illness I've included a link below. You can also visit my prayer page on Facebook : Praying for Caleb Childress
As all of you may know I was recently diagnosed with A.L.L (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). I'm only 8 years old and It all started with a sore throat which ended up being Strep Throat which they were treating me for, but when I did not get better my pediatrician ran blood work on me and found out that it was Leukemia. Within a few days of getting the sore throat and receiving the diagnosis I was immediately admitted to Duke Children’s Hospital where I began to undergo Chemotherapy treatments. Luckily, my type of cancer is more treatable than most others, so I only had to spend a few weeks at the hospital instead of six months or more. I had to take all sorts of medications while I was in the hospital. Some made me tired and others made me wired. I didn't like any of it even though I knew it was the best and only option for me to get better. The Chemotherapy made me sick most of the time; I spent most of my time in the hospital with a sore tummy from all the medicine. To make things worse I wasn't able to do the things I used to be able to and I didn't get much sleep either, the nurses and doctors were always waking me up to draw blood. Sometimes the doctors wouldn't even allow me to breathe the fresh air outside or allow family to visit because they said the smallest particle of bacteria would put me at risk of infection. You could think of me as the "Boy in the Bubble" a classic movie starring Jon Travolta. It has been hard even though thing's are starting to look better for me. I'm finally able to be home with my family and my most favorite dog in the world! His name is Holden, a yellow lab. He's my best friend and play buddy. I missed everyone so much while away at the Hospital. It has seemed like forever, but only after one month I was able to go back home to the beach where I left my life just a short few weeks ago. Thing's are different for me now, but I know I will get better over time. With your help in a small donation my recovery would be just that much easier and less stressful for my family. So I ask everyone to please help with my treatment. The smallest of donations would be so greatly appreciated and remembered by not only me but our family.
Thanks to my bubby and dad for helping me set this up.
As my motto goes:
YOU CAN'T HURT STEEL
YOU CAN'T STEAL COURAGE
GO FOR THE CURE!
On May 22nd I completed my Induction phase of Chemotherapy and so far I am feeling over all pretty good. There are times when I am very tired and take several breaks throughout the day. The great Dr.s at Duke Children's Hospital tell me that I am doing a pretty good job at fighting my Cancer. My last report from the Doctors stated that I was in Remission and my white cell count contained less than 0.44% T Cell Leukemia. They also tell me that I am a fast responder to Chemotherapy and that puts me at a higher survival risk rate. I am thankful that all the hard work is making me feel better. Going each week to Duke Childrens In-Clinic to receive my Chemo has been long and hard days. I am will be glad when these days get easier.
When I am able to be at home Mom and I and take daily walks to the dock close to our house and this lets me get some exercise and also lets my best buddy, Holden, play in the Intercoastal Waterway. Below you can see some pictures of Holden and I enjoying the nice weather. Dad is meeting the Dr.'s on the 29th to determine my next phase of treatment plan. I know I have a long way to go to keep the Leukemia away but with God, Family, and Friends we will put up a fight!
May 31st I began my Consulidation Phase of Chemo Treatment. This will be my 2nd phase of moving forward to keep these nasty cells away. However, on this day I am not sure if I had a chemo allergic reation or bacteria entered my blood stream due to being accessed through my port 3 times. I ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days and 2 days extra with with my Brother, Brandon, in the Raleigh area to make sure everything was ok. Gave my parents quite a scare. My port is in a difficult position and can sometimes be hard to deal with. It does not make me happy to poked so many times or the saline water they use to flush my port.
While I was in the hospital, my wonderful Dixie League Youth Baseball Family sponsored a tournment. I am so greatful and honored to have such a wonderful group of frineds. Thanks so much to everyone's time and effort and mostly thanks to Charlie and my Team the Mets and to Belinda the VP of Dixie League Youth Baseball. I wish I would have been able to attend for just a moment as we had planned.
On June 6th I met my radiation Doctor to make my mask for radation to be done in the next few weeks. We have to make sure no T-Cells are hiding in my brain. The mask we made looks like a a hockey mask and looks just like my face. I am not comfortable at all and really dread doing it. I hope the therapy dog, Aspen is there when I have to visit. Aspen helped me so much.
I have been able to come home since June 7th and enjoy being back in my favorite place. Mom and Dad still had to give me some chemo medication that I am tolerating ok. I will be back at Duke Children's Hospital on June 13th for more difficult treatment and to check my levels. Every keep praying for me!!
Before my trip back to Duke to start radiation treatment for the next 2 weeks and to continue with chemo, I was able to go out on a boat to with my Dad, Mom, and my buddy Holden. We fished in Shallotte River and rode up and down the Intercoastal Waterway. I love fishing and cruising in the water. This was Holden's first trip out on a boat and he was so funny. You have to see the pictures Mom took of him while we were riding. Since he loves the water so much, when we stopped to fish he tried every way in the world to get in the water. Finally he just jumped! The current was very strong in the river and Dad had to pull him back in. I think he was glad to just get wet. We never caught a fish that day, but it seemed no one else did either. I was just glad to be on the water for a few hours.
On my days away from Duke, I celebrated my Dad's Birthday and Father's Day. My dad and brother has helped me a lot on the days that I do not feel like being outside by playing some of my favorite games with me. The games keep my mind busy so that I do not think about my Leukemia. On June 13th my sister, Alison, was able to come with me to the both the Radiation and Chemo Clinics. She played games with me and helped me lay really still while the the Radiology Team took measurements so that everything would be ready for treatments on the 20th. On June 14th I received my Chemo and also had to get some blood to build my red cell count back up. They gave me 2 pints of blood that was made of only A negative red cells. Nothing else was in the blood I got! Matched me exactly. Plus, it maked me feel so much better and gave me so much more energy. One time while I was in the hospital, one of the nurses gave me a milkshake to drink while I got blood. That was pretty cool!
I want to thank everyone for all the prayers and support that I am getting. My mom and dad tell me how everyone loves me and is helping our family get through the tough times. It really means a lot to me to have so many people care about me and praying that I get better and do good with my treatments. My family means a lot to me and having them close to me is the best thing!
On June 19th mom and I headed to stay at my Bubbies for the next 2 weeks to receive my radiation and chemotherapy. My Neecie and Uncle Chad stayed with my sister so she could stay close to home. On the 20th I started my first radiation treatment. Even though I had been there two times before I was still scared. The mask we made had to be put on and set up exactly so eveyone knew what to do. The Doctor was there as well to make sure I was getting exactly what I needed. To help me the team put music on to keep my mind off the radiation machine. One thing I did not like was the blue light coming from the machine because it had a funny smell that made me sick. So I kept my eyes closed so I did not see it coming. The chemo has made my sense of smell and taste is very strong. Radiation continued for 8 visits. I was glad to have such a great group of girls working with me. Betty, one of the helpers at the Duke Cancer Center had me a surprise. It was a Shark Hat and a funny Bear that made really funny noises. Holden, my dog really liked the Shark Hat! He tried to take it off my head. Mom, Dad, and Brandon wore it and Holden went wild trying to get to it. To keep Holden from trying to wear it I have to keep it on the top shelf in my room.
On the June 21st I had to get both Radiation and Chemotherapy on the same day. That was a long day. All this medicine to make be better makes me feel very sick and tired. My parents do a lot to have the foods I want and like near me to keep my energy up. My taste for food has changed a lot. Mom says she nevers know what I will ask for next. One thing that has stayed the same so far is my love for Bacon. My favorite breakfast food! I hope I do not loose the taste for that! Yum Yum!
Since we had the weekend to stay close to Duke Hospital we decided to make the most of it and stay a little busy. On Saturday we went to Frankies, a fun place near Brandons, to play Putt Putt Golf and Laser Tag. Even though I had fun, it was more than I could handle. All the excitement did not make me feel well and I had to take several breaks. Brandon and I played 9 holes instead of 18. Would you believe I still beat him! Boy, that made my night! After a break we played Laser Tag. I felt sick, but I was determined to play. My brother stayed with me all the way throught it to make sure we did the best! Thanks Bubby! Mom and Dad got to watch upstairs through a window to see how we were doing.
On June 28th I was suppose to receive Chemotherapy and Radiation on the same day again as the prior week. I was able to get my Radiation done early that morning so I could get a head start on Chemo. I knew it was going to be a long day due to the extra fluids I had to have with the Chemo medicine. Mom had us prepared with snacks, games, and movies. But because my ability to fight off infections was not the required 750 (mine was 377) we were able to skip therapy that week. Mom and Dad said my body needed a break and the Dr. said we would move everything up a week. Getting both treatments was taking a toll on me. My body was tired and sick. Glad for a break.
My last day of Radiation Treatment was Friday, June 29th. I was so glad to have that done and over. The only thing I liked about it was that it was usually a quick treatment and no poking me with needles. Plus the girls there are great. Everyone got big hugs before I left. The Chemo clinic was a little jealous because of all the attention I gave next door. The Chemo team is great as well but I don't like it when they access my port and flush it with saline solution. Yuck! Makes me sick everytime.
Fridays are the days I get to come home if all is well. I was so glad to be back at the beach. Mom and I both were so thrilled to smell the fresh salty air! Guess you could say I am a beach bum!!! We also had to get back and check on my small garden we all planted to together. I really love watching it grow. Mom hopes I eventually will like to eat what I grow. In my garden, I have tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plant, corn, squash, strawberries, green peppers, and green beans. Doesn't sound small when I write about it. Alison will have to help me get pictures of all my plants so you can see. Thanks Alison, Neecie, Papaw, and Chad for keeping my garden water and cared for while I was gone.
Keep praying and thinking about me and my family! We really appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I am so thankful to have such wonderful and thoughtful family and friends taking care of me. Keep you posted as much as I can. Thanks mom for helping me!
July 4th was good. My Dad got to take extra days off and spend time with us. We fished, shrimped, and seen fireworks out from out house. We were able to see fireworks from Ocean Isle out our back yard. My sister and I enjoyed the view from the comforts of beach chairs. We usually go to Wilmington to watch fireworks off the Battleship, but I had treatment scheduled the next day. So I did not feel like going very far. Battleship fireworks are awesome!
July 5th I received a long treatment. The chemo had to have 4 hrs of hydration with it. I do not like long days at all! We got there around 9 and left at 7. Long day!! Katie kept me busy with picking out my Courage Beads and we had gotten some movies I like at Red Box to keep me busy before we got here. Plus, I had chemo sent home with me my mouth and by injection in the arm through the weekend. Mom gave to me at bedtime. Mom and Dad said as long as I got meds it did not matter. I hate getting injections and taking all this medication but I have to have to get better. During the weekend the rest of my hair came out. They say it was because of my radiation and chemo treatments. Mom took it harder than me. Sister got me a Calcutta Hat that was Camo. Thanks Sister.
July 12th was a much easier appointment. My blood work was good and thanks to Dr. Hinson we did not have to mess with my port. Few sticks and I was done. Once to check my blood and another to give me chemo. I was sent home with more chemo meds. By mouth and injection. Yuck! Good news I got to go swimming at Brandon's place. I was so excited. Mom and Dad got after me for being so excited!!! I have not been in a pool all summer long!! On the 15th, Saturday, Mom & Dad surprised me with dinner on the beach on a blanket and a short swim in the ocean during the eve so I did not get much sun. I had so much fun!! I miss playing and swimming with my friends so much. Dad played shark and I was bait. That was fun!!
July 19th was my next appointment and it was suppose to be fast. Two chemo meds and I suppose to be out. I prayed it would go quick. But, I needed red blood cells and platelets. I had felt bad before I came so Mom and Dad were not surprised. Alison got to come as well. She hunted down food and Scooby Doo movies to keep me busy. We left again around 7. But I have to do what ever to keep me healthy. Not easy and I hate waiting. Brandon took care of Holden for me while I was gone all day. I could not wait to see Brandon, Holden, and B's dog Rocky. He keeps Holden busy while I am gone. Rocky is a boxer and full of eneregy like Holden. Holden got mad at mom because we left and ate her flip flop!!! That was funny. She was so mad. Oh well.
My next appointment is the 26th and I will keep you posted. Thanks everyone!! Keep praying. Almost done with the hardest part of my Chemo phase. Boy has it been a long and hard one. Pray I stay cancer free!! Mom and Dad says more research needs to be done to see why this happened. Mom has even threw away all our plastic dishes that say not dishwasher safe or microwave safe. Has to be FDA approved or Mom & Dad won't have it! So get rid of it!!
Headed back to Duke on the evening of July 25th and stayed with brother before my appointment on the 26th. On the 26th I received one Chemo (Vincristine) and my ANC was 0! Having an ANC of 0 means that I could not fight off any infection at all! Because my platelets were so low they had to give me platelets. I had to wait an extra hour or so. I felt very sick to my stomach and had stomach pains so they gave me some extra medicines while I waited. Even though I hate to get all that extra medicine it does make me feel better. I wanted to go home after treatment but due to my ANC so low we stayed an extra night with Brandon to make sure I did not start running a fever! With an ANC of 0 I have to be very careful and not get a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Brandon, Dad, and I played games and that kept me busy. GLAD!
We got home on Friday from Brandon's and I started running a fever! Dad an Mom had to constantly check to see what temperature I was. They just about drove me crazy! Mom called Duke Children's Oncology Team and spoke with Dr. on call and she said to just watch and if it reached 101 to head to our closest hospital. Well....on Saturday that's exactly what happened. Around mid day I reach 101 and Mom and Dad rushed me to Brunswick Novant Community Hospital. Once there they started working on me and getting me ready to head to Duke. They placed my port and started my antibotic to make sure I did not have any bacterial infection that could make me really, really sick. Once they had me ready they transported me to Duke Children's Hospital by Ambulance. Mom rode with me. Dad and Ali drove seperate cars to make sure while there we had a car to leave if needed. It rained really hard and Mom was not only worried about me but also about Ali and driving in the hard rain. We worried about Dad as well, but Mom assured me that he knew what he was doing.
Mom and I arrived at Duke around 9:00 at night. I love the nurses on my pediatric floor. They know exactly what to do and care for me really well. Dad and Mom ordered my favorite thing to eat...pizza! Dad said he would get all the other food I like tomorrow. I hate Hospital FOOD! Thanks DAD!
I stayed at Duke for 11 days. I ran a fever for over a week an no one new why. My ANC levels stayed really low and no one could come and see me. We had to be very careful that I did not get anyting else. They had me on two of the strongest antibotics and checked my blood several times a day. Since my fever would not go away and no bacteria showed in my cultures they checked for a fungal infection. The Scan machine was so cool. I did not like it because I had to drink some nasty stuff and they also injected it into my port (still taste it through my port..yuck!!). THANK GOD there was no fungal infection. Mom and Dad were so worried. They did find an area in my intestines that was inflamed and put me on a 3rd Antibotic!!! The Oncology Team never determined what caused me to have the fever. Could have been a virus all along! Just have to let a virus run its course. Nothing you can do. Because I am sick it makes it harder to fight off.
On Tuesday, August 7th I finally got out of the Duke Hospital and was able to stay with at Brandon's apartment. I was so glad to be out of there!! I know mom was as well. I had to go back to the Duke on Thursday to get my blood check to make sure I was ok and did not need blood or platelets. My levels were GREAT!!! Mom, me, & the Dr. all cried. I was so happy! We picked up Holden at brothers and went directly home to the coast! Yeh!!
Dr. Hinson said that since I had been in the hospital I would get another week break before we had to have another treatment. I was so glad! My blood count looked great and for once in a long time I felt great! When I got home I had a great surprise....Papaw, Neecie, & Uncle Chad was there. Brandon and TJ came the next day. We had a great time. Papaw and I got to play some trains (one of my fav things to do!). Dr Hinson also said I could ride my bike and scooter. Mom took a picture of me riding my scooter. I was so glad. Put a big smile on my face Mom & Dad said.
I started my next treatment called Interm Maintenannce on August 17th. Had to get 3 different types of chemo in one day (one I had to be put to sleep because they put in my spine) and another one on Saturday before we headed back home. This phase does not have a busy schedule but I get a lot of chemo when I do go. It always makes me so tired and sick. Mom and Dad do all they can to keep me from getting sick.
Pray this phase is a little easier since I will not have to visit Duke every week. With this phase it will be every 10 days and I have to meet counts. They will check my blood while I am at home at the Pediatric Office close to home to make sure I am doing just fine.
Please pray that I continue to stay in Remission from Leukemia and that I do not get sick after treatments. My medical treatments are expensive and travel costs are expensive. Please donate if you can. Mom and Dad try and stay focused on me and my care and it makes it tough for them. Thanks everyone!! Click on the ads on this page as well. Not only do they have interesting articles, they help me make extra money to support my cure! Thanks so much!!!
You Can Also Mail Your Donations To:
Caleb and Melissa Childress
PO Box 175
Supply, NC 28462