Hello! EFESTE and Team Tough Guy will be participating in Big Climb Seattle on Sunday, March 25th in honor of our very own blood cancer survivir, Joe Taylor. Please support us with a donation by clicking the 'donate now' button above. Our efforts will help make a big difference in the fight against blood cancers.
Joe became ill shortly after his 5th birthday. For 2-3 weeks prior to his diagnosis, he wasn’t acting like himself. Whining all the time, very clingy to me, and complained of stomach pain. He cried every day that he went to preschool. He had never acted like that. Everyone was concerned about him and said that he was sad. The whining got worse. We noticed his stomach was unusually bloated. His cousin Adrienne had noticed his lips were frequently turning blue. I had thought I was just seeing things.
We decided to take him to the pediatrician and they treated him for constipation. Later that night he had a fever, I was again concerned because his symptoms had gone on just too long. I decided to call the night nurse at Evergreen Hospital. She suggested I go back to the pediatrician and ask them to run more tests. Upon arrival the next day the doctor that saw us was a little more concerned and suggested we take a blood test. I waited for my husband to get home from a trip as I knew the blood draw was going to be a fight. We decided to take Joe to Toys R Us for a Star Wars toy after the experience since he was so traumatized. No sooner had we walked in the door, the doctor from Pediatric Associates called - Dr. Vincent. He said he didn’t have good news, Joe’s blood work was showing signs of a possible blood cancer, and they wanted us to go to Children’s Emergency immediately.
I was in shock and didn’t want to repeat the news to my husband so I asked the doctor to tell him again over the phone. I quickly called my parents and they arrived within minutes to watch over our 7-year-old son, Paul. My mom, husband Kevin, Joe and I went off to Children’s ER. They took us in quite immediately. The blood draw went much smoother but Joe almost went into convulsions when he found out another blood draw was coming. Not soon after the results came back. They wanted to admit us for more testing.
Joe did in fact have a blood cancer, most likely a leukemia, but they needed to do a Bone Marrow aspiration procedure the next day in order to know for sure. Joe was getting sicker and sicker by the moment. They were confident that his platelets were low, the blue lips were a sign of this, as well as his stomach being bloated was a sign of a swollen spleen working over time trying to heal the body and rid it of toxins. The first night in the hospital was quite eye-opening. Joe was in pain as the leukemia cells were beginning to press on his bones within his marrow. They gave him pain medication and had to poke him again to see if the platelet transfusion bolstered his blood work. Everyone in the family was really upset and worried.
The word cancer. No one ever wants to hear that. The bone aspiration the next day was quick and they made sure it wasn’t painful. They continued to have to poke Joe and little by little began to tell us what was next. Books, binders, paperwork, it was all a nightmare. The first good news came the next day. Joe had a kind of leukemia, ALL. A very treatable form. Although many in the room were hoping for no leukemia, I was relieved that we were given a curable diagnosis.
The real work began now. A course of treatment was given to us and we followed its path to healing for 3 ½ years. Joe was incredibly tough throughout the entire experience. Over time, he became braver with his pokes. He tolerated the chemo well, fighting through the side effects and insisting he was “fine”. He was a legend in the clinic. After his monthly methotrexate spinal injections, he awoke and insisted on running the hallways trying to make sure his body was in working order. Tough. Amazing.
We are eternally grateful for the people before us that have supported studies and research to help find cures for childhood cancers. Without the people before us, much like our parent’s memories of their youth, adults and youth facing diseases like leukemia faced a certain death. The cure rates for all types of blood cancers are trending up! Not only do these cures help the children, but also the adults inflicted with these diseases. Shortly after Joe’s cure, my nearest and dearest friend Ann Molitor was diagnosed with ALL. She made it through treatment with flying colors and continues to enjoy a healthy life.
Thank you to the Washington/Alaska Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and all of their supporters!
What is the Big Climb?
The Big Climb is a stairclimb up the Columbia Center - the tallest skyscraper in downtown Seattle. There are 69 floors of stairs, 1311 steps, and 788 feet of vertical elevation. Although it will be challenging, it pales in comparison to what blood cancer patients go through. All proceeds benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The video below captures the true spirit of the Big Climb.
Who is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society?
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
Every day, more than 347 LLS sponsored researchers come closer to the goal of finding a cure for leukemia and related blood cancers. Locally, LLS funds 10 researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington Medical Center. Your support and commitment to the mission of LLS enables us to continue this important work of saving lives and aids us in our ability to reach patients in our community.