Super Carter’s Story…
Carter is a typical 8-year-old kid. He loves LEGOS and being active – playing basketball, running cross-country, swimming, riding his bike, and playing with his sisters and friends. As his mom, I would describe him as fun, sweet, thoughtful, kind, smart, responsible, loud, friendly, and compassionate. Carter is very personable and has made many friends with other children fighting cancer, his amazing nurses and wonderful doctors at the hospital.
Carter’s journey began earlier this year when flu symptoms would not resolve, and his doctor ordered additional tests and x-rays, which discovered a huge mass in his chest and the diagnosis of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Our family was told treatment would last 3 ½ years and chemo must begin immediately. For the last 4 months Carter has undergone 8 spinal taps, a couple bone marrow aspirations, dressing changes for his PICC line (now he has a port), surgery, countless pills and steroids (as many as 22 in one day!) with awful side effects, countless blood and platelet transfusions, more chemo and different types of chemo than I can remember, radiation to his brain, many long hospital stays, fevers, upset stomachs, extreme fatigue, CT scans, echocardiograms, and more needle pokes than most people will receive in their entire lifetime. He missed his last month of second grade and pretty much the first month of 3rd grade. He has missed out on lots of fun due to chemo, appointments, feeling very bad, and having a very low immune system.
Through it all Carter is an inspiration; a beacon of hope, courage, and love. He is the true definition of a hero. Carter wakes up every morning with a smile. He is strong, brave and more courageous than any man. That is not to say that there has not been tears because there have been plenty, but he picks himself back up and goes back in to fight and kill all those cancer cells, "those bad guys!” Although this is an extremely difficult time for Carter and our family, he still finds plenty of reasons to smile.
During one of his recent hospitalizations, Carter had a traumatic experience with getting his port accessed. Because he had been in the hospital a week, they needed to de-access him (take the currently needle out of his port in his chest) and replace it with a clean one. Carter’s nurse had trouble getting the new needle in; it would not draw blood back. She had to press on his port and try to get it in better, only to have to take the needle out and try again. This was very painful for Carter, it was heartbreaking to watch. His nurse felt so bad, she called his favorite nurse from the infusion clinic (the chemo clinic) to come and get Carter accessed, luckily she was able to get it right in. Carter’s original nurse felt so bad, she came in and apologized to Carter. What did he say? He said, “Don’t worry, it is okay, everyone makes mistakes.” I was so proud at that moment, as I don’t think I could have said that.
Carter has a long road ahead of him, but we have no doubt that he will prevail. He will kick cancer to the curb and he will continue to do great things and make a difference in this world. Carter is a superhero like no other!
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia