30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2021
In May 2020, I was fighting to get bloodwork done for my son, Antonio. We were at the height of the pandemic and were sent to the ER for a temperature of 101.5 by the pediatrician (who hadn’t seen him). In the ER, I was told that it was just a rash. He had a covid and an antibody test done, and we were sent home.
My mami gut said there was more to this, and I spoke to my nurse friends who also thought there was more to it. I requested bloodwork and got it done Saturday morning. That Saturday night, I heard the words no parent wants to hear…”your child has leukemia.”
Antonio was diagnosed on May 23, 2020. I received the call that the ER was waiting for us. I took him to the ER, and it was a whirlwind. He was put on a monitor, labs drawn, ultrasound and other tests. He was admitted to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital. On May 26, 2020, he had a port placed, bone marrow biopsy as well as a spinal tap with intrathecal methotrexate in his spinal fluid. This was the beginning of his journey…the induction phase. He was admitted for three weeks and had his birthday at the hospital. The staff was amazing
at the ER, as well as on the 5th floor. We went home on June 10th and proceeded to go to the outpatient
clinic at the hospital.
The staff at the outpatient clinic is also amazing with him. Induction was 29 days. Consolidation was the next phase. That was also rough. Delayed intensification was even rougher. He has had many ups and downs including an allergic reaction to chemo, blood transfusions, port issues, unplanned hospital visits. He made it through interim maintenance and now is in maintenance.
He has been through many changes with his appearance and hence wasn't sure what people will think of him. Nevertheless, he is always my baby no matter what he looks like.
He is in a good place right now emotionally and physically. He loves Harry Potter and he says, “Mami…I am like Harry Potter and leukemia is Voldemort. My friends and family are my Order of the Phoenix.” He is like a phoenix. He will rise and beat leukemia.
He also started fundraising to provide kids with oral care kits when they are admitted to the hospital. He
calls it Antonio's BrightSmiles. He wants to help kids that are going through the same thing at this stage or just starting.
Thank you to those who have been supporting him and our family from near and far. Thank you to PCFLV, which made this shy, quiet kid more talkative and helped him come out his shell. PCFLV is a wonderful organization that has helped us from the minute we stepped onto the inpatient floor and provides assistance, as well as activities for our kiddos and siblings. Antonio will continue to fight for there is a long road ahead.
Written by Antonio’s mom, Hannia
Please consider donating in Antonio's honor to support PCFLV's mission.
Please also consider helping local kids with cancer by donating blood at Miller-Keystone Blood Center:
Photography by Matthew Cannon