2-time cancer survivor brings joy to kids
At just 12 years old, Aiden has quite a story to tell and now is paying it forward.
This story was originally published on July 2013 and has been updated.
On Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007, at the age of 2, Aiden came home from day care with a little fever. I noticed swollen lymph nodes in Aiden’s neck. I just thought he might have tonsillitis. I made an appointment with his doctor for the following day. The doctor took a blood test — a standard complete blood count (CBC).
He said he thought his machine was broken, so he asked that I take Aiden over to the local hospital to have the blood test run. The hospital retook the test and we left. The hospital called me before we even got home and asked that I bring Aiden back right away. They needed to redo the CBC test but didn’t have enough blood.
Two nurses and three vials of blood later, we received a call at about 8 p.m. on Feb. 21. I was told to take Aiden to the children’s hospital immediately. Aiden’s pediatrician, Richard A. Boada, M.D., thought Aiden had leukemia. Once we arrived at the hospital, they did more blood work; Aiden’s white blood cell count was so high at 232,000. Normal is 10,000 to 15,000. Around 4 a.m., after what had seemed like a lifetime of waiting, the emergency department doctor confirmed that Aiden did in fact have (high-risk) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We were sent immediately to the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center on 7 West.
Aiden underwent 3 1/2 years of chemotherapy treatments, had numerous lumbar punctures and so many blood and platelet transfusions that we lost count, suffered through finger pokes two to three times a week, had bone marrow aspirations and lost his hair, but he was a strong, brave little boy through it all.
We were so happy that Aiden would receive his last chemotherapy treatment on his sixth birthday! And what a celebration we had.
Aiden went to kindergarten and first grade as a normal, healthy, happy little boy. Then in July 2012, his cancer returned. He had been in remission for five years, and off treatment for two. Our life once again was turned upside down. The protocol was selected and Aiden was placed on an intermediate risk therapy treatment, which required him to receive an additional 2 to 2 1/2 years of intense chemotherapy treatments. More lumbar punctures, more blood and platelet transfusions, more finger pokes, more bone marrow aspirations, and once again, Aiden lost his hair — twice.
Most of Aiden’s treatments are inpatient at the children’s hospital, and he found that building with Lego blocks took his mind off being in the hospital, filled his days with something to do and actually allowed him to forget that he has cancer. That’s how Aiden’s Lego Legacy was started.
As a faith-filled family, we wanted to give back, to make a difference and allow all the other pediatric cancer patients on 7 West, the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center, to have Legos and enjoy just being kids. And who doesn’t love Legos? Aiden’s Lego Legacy decided to take it a step further; we have committed half of our fundraising efforts to be donated to the Children’s Hospital Foundation, benefiting pediatric cancer research right here in Louisville.
Update on Aiden: September 2016
Aiden is a two-time survivor, so we recently celebrated his second one-year survivorship just before his 12th birthday. This summer was a busy one for Aiden. Through fundraising efforts with Aiden’s Legacy he was able to donate $13,000 worth of Legos to the kids affected by cancer attending Camp Quality and Indian Summer Camp. His travels as the child champion for Kentucky for the Children’s Miracle network took him to many places, including Washington, D.C., meeting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rep. Rand Paul, the surgeon general and many other people, including newly crowned Miss America and Marie Osmond. After a busy summer, Aiden was ready to start sixth grade and is also learning to play the drums. We are excited about the school year and looking forward to joining in and “Going Gold” for childhood cancer.