Educating, swabbing, and running to end blood cancer!

Easton Begoon

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Easton was born on June 16, 2009 a perfectly healthy little boy. He was the absolute light of our lives and was always healthy until right around his second birthday. In the weeks leading up to his birthday he became sick. We assumed it was just “daycare germs” that he was catching. The doctors said it was simply allergies and not to worry. In July of 2011, Easton went to the doctor as he was very sick. He happened to test positive for strep and was sent home on antibiotics. A week later, he was worse. Easton slept a lot, didn’t eat, seemed to have problems breathing, had swollen lymph nodes, bruises all over, and was very very yellow in color. We returned to his pediatrician on a Monday. Monday, July 25, 2011.

 

His pediatrician came in and we were expecting him to have another virus, possibly mono or something “easy” to deal with. She insisted upon running a CBC and come back into the room with tears in her eyes. All she said was that the ambulance was on its way and Arkansas Children’s Hospital was expecting us. I asked her what was going on, there was no answer. I again said please, tell me what is wrong. She said the oncologist would meet us in the ER when we arrived and he was a very sick little boy. That was the day our journey started. We arrived at the ER and the entire day was a whirlwind. They knew it was leukemia and they knew it was very bad. His platelets were so low they didn’t read on the pediatricians scale. His hemoglobin was too low to read and his white count was too high to read on her scales as well. His WBC was 284,000, his platelets at a mere 3,000 and his HGB only 5. ACH started a platelet transfusion followed by a whole blood transfusion, which would be the first of many. We also learned he had a very large mass in his chest inhibiting him from breathing efficiently. We admitted into the PICU after several hours and we all prayed he would pull through. Our healthy boy now had 3 IV’s, oxygen on his face, heart monitors, oxygen monitors, and more lines than I had ever seen in my life. The first couple of days were iffy, but we started chemotherapy July 27, 2011. After a week in the PICU, we moved to the Oncology floor and spent another week there receiving treatment and getting Easton stable. We were released home and traveled back to ACH nearly every day for months and months for chemotherapy, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirates, and other treatments. Easton’s cancer was aggressive and didn’t go into remission as soon as we had hoped. He needed spinal and cranial radiation as part of his treatment to hopefully find remission. We introduced that and brand new chemos to hopefully be the answer we were looking for.

 

In late November, we finally heard the word “remission”. It was a beautiful, beautiful day. Just a few weeks later, we were scared he had relapsed. Easton never fit the path he should have and his leukemia was just “different”. However, it wasn’t relapsed and we began to breathe a little easier. That changed shortly thereafter. In February of 2012, we went in for a normal day of chemo with a bone marrow aspirate and spinal tap. Once again, our world changed. We learned Easton had a new type of T-cell Leukemia. He was in the percentage of children that died within the first year or two of treatment. He has the genetic markers that showed his cancer was different, it wasn’t “normal”. Research had been done and he fit into this new group, the “Early T-cell Precursor” kiddos with poor prognosis. But Dr. Saylors had a plan. He stays on top of the latest research and knew what to do. Easton would need a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible. He was going to save his life. We immediately began the process of getting into the donor search and preparing his body with more intense, conditioning chemo. We waited and waited for the call to go.

 

In May, we received the call. We were phoned by San Antonio Children’s Methodist Hospital on a Friday and we were to be there in 2 days for appointments on Monday. They were ready to give Easton a second chance at life. Two weeks later, after even more intense chemo and lots of sickness, Easton was ready for this miraculous gift. On May 23, 2012 Easton had his second birthday or his “re-birth” as it is often called. A cord blood donor had been found and was going to provide him with new bone marrow and DNA. Transplant was a very very harsh road with lots of complications. We spent over one hundred days in the hospital in San Antonio. Easton was away from all of his family besides mommy and daddy. He literally had every complication possible with transplant and was very sick in the PICU, fully sedated, for nearly two weeks. But Easton is a fighter. He pulled through and we headed back to Arkansas in late August.

 

After another scary event when Easton became septic, we stayed at ACH another 3 weeks in late September of 2012. Since, he has made miraculous progress. That was our last inpatient hospital stay to date. Although we travel back frequently to the oncology clinic at ACH and have visits in Texas, he is doing well. We are still in remission and he is considered 100% donor DNA (from transplant), meaning he is less likely to relapse.

Now, we mainly deal with the side effects to cancer treatments. He has osteopenia (low bone density) due to treatment, some thyroid problems, and other “small” difficulties. We are watched by cardiologist, neurologists, dentists, and more to see what problems may develop from treatment.

 

Thanks to research, treatments are becoming more effective. We have a happy toddler these days that loves his life and truly lives it to the fullest! We hope and pray that he never relapses and has to battle the monster again. He is our hero.