Our cancer story started in June 2006. Peyton, her brother Nathaniel and sister Rachael were all suffering from a summer virus. After a trip to the pediatrician, we were told not to sweat it, it was viral…no strep, no ear problems….and it would go away on it’s own. Peyton started running a low grade fever and we were told again that it would work itself out. After 3 weeks of low fever, but no other symptoms, she started waking up in the night just screaming in the most horrific pain. Being 2 1/2 , she couldn’t tell us what hurt, how bad it hurt, what kind of pain it was….just that it HURT!! The first night this happened I thought it was a fluke, I gave her some Tylenol for the pain and sent her back to bed. I figured it was probably some growing pains or maybe leg cramps. The next night when it happened again Peter and I decided that another trip the pediatrician was in order. Frankly, I was getting a little cranky from being woke up all hours of the night….little did I know.
She was still running a low grade fever, which we were told not to worry about, so we weren’t. In fact, I was surprised she still had it because she was as active and nutty as always. She didn’t seem sick at all. I thought it was probably an ear infection coming on, so I took her to the doc to check it out. Our pediatrician checked her ears and did a strep test just be on the safe side and they all came back clear. After talking to him about her symptoms, he decided to run some bloodwork on her because she looked a little pale. I don’t know if he had an inkling what that little vial of blood was going to do to our family, but I am so continually thankful that he ordered the test. After telling us that they’d get back to us in a couple of days with the results we were sent home. I was feeling good about the fact that it wasn’t her ears or throat and figured that life would just go on as usual.
It was July 13….the first day of Pete’s vacation and we were all planning on sleeping in late, getting up to do a whole lot of nothing and at 8:00 AM the phone started to ring. First it was the house phone, which I ignored….then it was my cell phone….which I stuck my head under the pillow to ignore…then the house phone again. ARGGG….someone really wants to get a hold of me, so I dragged my lazy butt out of bed for the worst phone call I’ve ever received. I remember the call when my grandmother died…I remember the call when my family found out my mother had breast cancer….and as stunned as I was during those calls, they all pale in comparison to what I felt as I talked to the doctor that morning. After I answered, the nurse from the pediatrician’s office told me that the doctor wanted to talk to me. I started to get this ache in the pit of my stomach because the doctor NEVER calls, he’s never the one to call about test results. This could not be good. He got on the phone and told me that there were some “problems” with Peyton’s blood tests. We needed to take her to All Children’s Hospital in St. Pete and meet with Dr. Barbosa, a pediatric hematology/oncology specialist. Even though I knew in my heart what the answer would be, I asked him if we were going for hematology or oncology. He answered oncology. I made him tell me what they were thinking…if my baby had cancer, I wanted to know what it was NOW. He told me that they suspected leukemia and that we needed to get down there ASAP. I stopped talking…he told me to pack a bag to go down there for her and myself….he reassured me that if his child was sick, this was the doctor he’d want seeing her…I wanted to curl up in a ball and just die.
I got off the phone with the pediatrician and I walked into the bedroom where Pete was still sleeping soundly. I kicked him! Then I fell to the floor and just cried….he woke up pretty startled…being kicked in the butt does that to a person…but then concerned when he saw the way I was crying. “She’s sick….Peyton’s sick” That was all I could get out of my mouth. We rushed around getting ready to go, unsure of what was going to unfold. We dropped the kids off at my mother-in-law’s house and took off for St. Pete. When we got to the dr. office, I remember the thought that “maybe they’re wrong…they must be if we’re here for more tests…it’s all a mistake”. We met Dr. Barbosa and I asked him if they were sure, and he told me that they were sure, we already had a room reserved on the oncology floor at the hospital and after a few more tests we would be sent over there to stay.
Gone…the flash of hope that I had that it was just a mistake was gone.
After more tests in the hospital, Peyton was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was also diagnosed CNS (Central Nervous System) positive because high amounts of leukemia was found in her spinal fluid. She would be considered a high risk case for relapse and her treatment would be longer and harder than the average leukemia case. I cried and cried, just tears of fear and anguish at what our daughter was going through. I called my mother, my friends and let them know what was happening. The prayer chain started and we got everyone we knew, and thousands that we didn’t, to pray for our little girl. Those prayers have gotten us through months of treatment, the loss of her hair and energy, the changes in her poor little body, and many many scary moments.
Peyton’s an amazing girl, with spirit and a strength I could never have imagined in a 3 year old. She captivates all those she meets with her smiles and playfulness, her love and vivaciousness has won the hearts of many. We are continually awed by how she inspires us to do more, be more and love more. God has proven His might hand in our lives time after time and we are thankful to Him for each blessed day we have with her.
f.r.o.G…fully relying on God