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Parents of 3-year-olds have many concerns: Where will I send my child to kindergarten? Is my child eating enough vegetables? Am I spending enough time with my child?
Cindy Needham would jump at the chance to have those be her day-to-day stresses. Instead, five years ago, when her son Cade was only 3 ½ years old, he was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma. He went through intense chemotherapy, and in January 2007, he went in to remission. The chemotherapy took its toll, however. Cade lost a tremendous amount of weight – he weighed a mere 28 lbs. Also, one of his treatments caused severe mouth sores and sloughing of the skin in his mouth, esophagus, and stomach lining, causing him to be sedated for a week on a morphine pump. "We thought we were losing him during this time," says Cindy.
Cade finished his treatment in May, 2007, but he still suffers from periodic episodes of mouth sores. Antibiotics have become a norm for him. Although many post-chemotherapy patients' immune systems bounce back, Cade's never did. He suffers from three immune deficiencies.
Now 8 years old, Cade undergoes monthly Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatments, a plasma protein replacement therapy to maintain adequate antibody levels to help prevent infections. Because of the severe side-effects, including headaches and vomiting, the treatments are infused over a period of 24 hours.
"We are in a constant battle trying to keep him protected from infections and sickness. A normal cold for us could be deadly to him," says Cindy. To help prevent him from staying sick, Cade's doctor pulled him out of school in October 2010.
"I am hopeful that one day a cure will be found and these children will not have to suffer through any of this," says Cindy, who notes she is thankful to be able to share Cade's story.