I am so very new to this whole blog thing, but here is our story about childhood cancer. My name is Lauren, and I am a mother to 3 amazing boys, Giovanni (4), Armani (3), and baby Lorenzo (1 ½ ). My life was very much like every other working mother until June 24, 2016. I noticed a huge bump on my son Giovanni’s eye before he headed to school one day. I took a picture and sent it to my husband. He told me to take him to the doctor and see what he thought of it.
We headed to the doctor that same day. When we got to see the doctor, he told us not to think to much about it as it looked like a bruise and to wait and see if it would g down. Gio kept saying he bumped his head, so we were going to wait it out as the doctor said. We walked out of the office without any worries and went about our day. The bump started to look smaller as time passed, so we didn’t think much more of it.
A month later, on July 25th , Giovanni and Lorenzo were playing and having a good time in the living room until they bumped heads. Lorenzo didn’t seem bothered at all, but Giovanni just wouldn’t stop crying. His eye became very swollen, so I decided to take him to the ER since it was the same eye he bumped before.
We arrived at the ER that evening and the doctor came right in to speak with us about doing an ultrasound over the bump on Gio’s eye. They took us in to perform the ultrasound and took some pictures of the area around his eye. We were back in our room when the doctor came in and told us, “Something is wrong with above your son’s eye. I’m sorry but this is not just a bruise.” I didn’t completely know what she meant by that, so I asked her what does that mean. “Your son’s bone is involved with a mass above his eye.” My heart sank and I felt completely sick. I didn’t want Gio to see me upset so I stayed as strong as I could and excused myself to the bathroom. We were admitted to the hospital because they needed to complete some scans and biopsies.
After multiple tests and biopsies during the week they thought we were dealing with a disease called Langerhans. The disease could be treated easily and things would be fine. They decided to discharge us and wait for those results to come back. We got home and were happy that they now thought they knew his diagnosis. A sigh of relief filled my house as we thought it was Langerhans and not cancer.
The next day we got a phone call to bring Gio back to the hospital right away. I will never forget the words the doctor said to me on the phone. “Your son is being diagnosed with Stage 3 Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.” WHAT!!??? That was never mentioned to us….I was more scared now than ever. I had to break the news to my husband and tell him Gio has cancer and needs to go back into the hospital to begin treatment. I can’t really explain the feeling of hearing your child has cancer!! Cancer happens to people but never to YOUR child.
We arrived at hospital to start all the things that needed to be handled. Gio had a PET scan and a port placed in his chest for his medicine, and we now had to face the harsh reality that this was happening. Our world was falling apart in front of our very own eyes.
Months have passed and Gio has been fighting such a good fight. He is so strong and an incredible four-year-old. He is bothered by absolutely nothing. He gets mouth sores and vomits, but he still seems to put a smile on his face daily. The support and love from our community is incredible and makes me realize how many poeple love not only our family but Gio. His smile can light up a room.
We recently got to bring Gio to meet his favorite sports teams, The New York Mets and the New York Jets. The athletes were amazing to him! They all hugged him and spoke kind words to him. Life Is very different now. We are constantly in the hospital for routine chemo or fevers. He is no longer allowed to go to school or play sports. He was so excited to start flag football this year and was so very upset he couldn’t. We have sold many GioStrong shirts and are trying to raise awareness of this horrible disease. Its not easy but we take it one day at a time. Cancer is not rare in kids. I wish people were more educated on that fact. I wish people would wear as much gold in September as they do in October.
My son’s story will continue as he fights to beat cancer. Never forget how strong these kids are. I am reminded everyday of it. Thank you for listening to my story. It felt really good to get this out onto paper. If you are a parent fighting the fight with your kid, remember this one thing: you need to not only take care of your child during this difficult time, but don’t forget to take a moment for yourself. We need to be healthy and strong right along with them. They will need our shoulder, our arms, and our strength to feed off of.