Hope, Strength, and Healing for families coping with a child cancer diagnosis

Terrell officially finished his 3 ½ years of treatment for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia!

On January 26th 2018, 14 year old Terrell officially finished his 3 ½ years of treatment for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia! This day was very special for Terrell and his family as they have overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles and challenges from the moment of diagnosis. Our team here at Keaton’s Child Cancer Alliance was thrilled to hear the news directly from Tasha, Terrell’s mother on that day. Her immense amount of joy and excitement exuded over our team.

Terrell was only 10 years old when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. It was on October 24th 2014 that Tasha heard the words “Your son has signs of leukemia.” Terrell then spent 23 consecutive days in the hospital. Over the course of his treatment, Terrell endured 8 blood transfusions, one platelet transfusion, 23 days of steroids, 32 spinal tap procedures, and learning to walk again after losing much of his leg muscle. Throughout his arduous journey, Terrell’s source of strength and hope evoked from his mother Tasha, younger brother Exyavier, older sister Geyna, great grandmother Freda and great grandmother Bonnie, who were by his side the entire time.

Before Terrell received his diagnosis, he enjoyed doing things that most 10 year old boys enjoy doing.  One activity in particular was basketball.  As Terrell’s mother Tasha stated, “Terrell has been dribbling a ball since he was a little boy.” To say that Terrell and his family were devastated upon hearing the bad news is an understatement. For Terrell, engaging in simple activities, such as dribbling a basketball, would unfortunately be put on hold for a while.

Aside from the emotional impact upon hearing Terrell’s diagnosis, Tasha would have to figure out how to afford transporting Terrell to treatment from Stockton to Sacramento, costs of medical bills and treatment, and all other basic costs of living. Without very much support from family or friends, Tasha was unsure how she and her family would get through this difficult time. Thankfully, with the help of KCCA and other similar organizations, as well as the Social Workers and Child Life Specialists of Sutter Hospital, Tasha felt like she had a strong network of support. Terrell and his family are grateful for all of the support they have received, including participating in our Adopt-A-Family program on 2 separate occasions. Through Keaton’s Child Cancer Alliance’s Adopt-A-Family program, Terrell received his very first bicycle. Terrell feels fortunate for the support his family received from KCCA during his treatment. “When my mom found out that our previous landlord sold the apartment, we told our dad and his mom, but neither one wanted to help. My sister, brother, and I felt like they didn’t want us, and that they were going to leave us on the street with our mom. We did not receive any help from the shelter. Our only help was from Sarah Perry [KCCA Family Navigator] who got us involved with Central Valley Housing.” -Terrell

Today, Terrell is enjoying being a 14 year old freshman in High School. His favorite subjects in school are math and P.E. He enjoys watching movies, such as his favorite, Transformers. One of his favorite hobbies is to draw. Terrell is very excited to start playing basketball again and is excited to play for his High School basketball team, the Caesar Chavez Titans. Terrell looks forward to having his mom, brother, and sister attending all of his basketball games. When he grows up, Terrell wants to be in the NBA just like his favorite NBA player, Steph Curry. He may also want to become an Artist with his own art gallery. Terrell feels optimistic about his future while having peace of mind knowing that the chance of a relapse has decreased to 10%. Terrell dreams of buying his mom a house one day and hopes that she has a breakthrough with her career as an Independent Travel Agent.

As a single mother who has supported her son throughout his treatment while taking care of his brother and sister, Tasha has some advice for any family who is just starting their cancer journey:

“Remain faithful, especially if you’re doing it all by yourself. You’re not alone. Those mentioned from the organizations, and hospital staff will become your family and support you from the beginning, middle and end. Our children fight the fight for those who feel they cannot draw strength. For every smile your child gives you, give a bigger one back; every tear your child sheds, you shed more; every hug from your child, give a tighter one back; every kiss, give a shower of kisses back; every ‘I love you’ said by your child, say ‘I love you more’ back.” -Tasha

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