All Star: Henry
On Sunday, February 1, 2015, 21-month-old Henry began running a fever. His mom and dad chalked it up to teething or maybe the flu, but the fever continued through the next day. His mom took him to his pediatrician who ran a flu test with a positive result. She has also noticed some bruising, seemingly from playing hockey in the basement with his dad, but she wanted to run his blood work due to the bruises.
They picked up Henry’s prescription and went home, with plans for his mom, LeAnna, to take a couple of days off from work while he recouped. Soon they received a call saying his platelet count was low and to head to the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital ER. There they ran more blood and came back with the possibility that Henry may have a platelet disorder.
They returned home with plans for a recheck later in the week, after he recovered from the flu, but they were called back early as they had taken another look and noticed some oddities. Henry was admitted that day. Through another series of tests Henry received a diagnosis of B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on February 4th, 2015.
Henry’s parents had just moved to Minnesota less than a year before his diagnosis. While his dad is from Minnesota, it has been challenging for his mom to be away from friends and family, while trying to adjust to a new place and a childhood cancer diagnosis simultaneously. Her parents are five hours away and unable to visit regularly, while her sister lends moral and emotional support from Chicago.
“In all honesty, what causes me the most stress is the fear of losing Henry. He is my only child, and I never dreamed that leukemia would be something I would need to worry about with my children. I always thought, bruises, bumps, braces, a broken bone, stitches, and things of this nature. I felt so secure with life before Henry got cancer. I had a great job that I loved, was an active runner, and had my family and home.”
His mom had received a raise just before he was diagnosed, but was unable to return to work after her 90-day leave was up. Henry’s dad is a para-educator and is back in school pursuing his teaching certificate. LeAnna is currently Henry's full-time caregiver, while his dad is the sole financial provider.
“I try not to focus on the worries, but sometimes it is hard not to. With my husband being the only one bringing in an income, it makes me feel guilty,” worries LeAnna.
The Pinky Swear Foundation was able to assist Henry and his family by helping with one of their rent payments.
Henry just reached his one year diagnosis anniversary, and is currently undergoing delayed intensification treatment in hopes of increasing his red blood cells and platelet count. He has had a rough time, including a 20-day stretch where he was not interested in eating, felt weak and tired, and would not leave his mom’s lap. They rocked in the rocking chair day and night, switching out duties between mom and dad. There were trips to the ER, fevers, antibiotics, constipation, low red blood and platelet counts, and transfusions. If the cancer does not persist and spread, Henry's last treatment will not be until late April 2018.
“The bumps in the road of life make us stronger and make us really think about not taking even the smallest things for granted," explained Henry’s mom. “You also stop sweating the small stuff – it actually begins to make you focus more on what is important and what is authentic. There is only one momma who can care for Henry, and this is where I need to be. I feel so proud to be his mother and I realize that helping others just may be something I want to do when I can return to the working world.”
Visit Henry's Caring Bridge page