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

Meet Keaton’s Kiddo’s John & Dean

Meet 4-year-olds, John and Dean, remarkable little humans with unique personalities and quirks. John and Dean are identical twin boys born prematurely at 31 weeks gestation in 2017. The first month of their lives was spent in the NICU where John was diagnosed with a heart condition called Super Ventricular Tachycardia(SVT), managed by medications. Aside from the quarterly trips to the cardiologist, their regular appointments with their pediatrician, and the occasional cold or gastro bug, both boys were healthy.

In May of 2019, the boys started daycare and around that same time, they both started to frequently get sick. It seemed like every other week there was a stomach bug, ear infection, or fever of unknown origin. By October John wasn’t acting like himself, asking to be carried more often than not, and had lost about 10 lbs. Their dad took John in for blood work because his parents just knew something wasn’t right. In the days following, John became sicker and developed a cough that had gone from bad to worse in a matter of days. They took him into a local ER where they took more blood and started him on a breathing treatment. Just as they began the breathing treatment hospital staff told his parents that he was severely anemic and neutropenic with basically no immune system and would need to be transferred to UC Davis.

After a night in the PICU at UC Davis where more tests were run and transfusions were given, John was diagnosed with B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He had a PICC line placed and was started on treatment immediately. 10 days later, John went home and reunited with his twin.

When John was diagnosed it was briefly mentioned that because the boys are identical twins there was an increased chance of Dean also having it, but because they were over the age of 1 the odds weren’t quite as high. The family was told that it was so unlikely that they had better odds of winning the lotto before having both twins diagnosed. Still, their parents couldn’t ignore the signs and symptoms Dean was displaying and again requested blood work be done, but on this same night Dean had to be taken to the same ER, November 27th and he too was transferred to UC Davis after his labs showed that he too was severely anemic and neutropenic. Several hours later on Thanksgiving morning, the care team at Davis confirmed that Dean also had leukemia.

Their lives were forever changed. In the almost two years since diagnosis, both boys have faced huge obstacles and overcome them with beautiful resiliency. They both had to learn how to walk again and have faced numerous side effects from treatment such as blood clots in the brain for Dean, seizures for John, and osteopenia, and severe GI issues for both of them. But through it all, they continue to smile, laugh, and learn with so much love and enthusiasm for life.

Balancing the medical needs of both boys, having to receive care and treatment has caused much financial strain on John and Dean’s parents. Due to their diagnosis, John and Dean’s mom has not been able to work, so that she can care for her boys, while dad works to provide as much as possible for their family. Aside from regular follow-up appointments and chemotherapy, the boys also attend appointments outside of their treatment facility to assess medical side effects from their treatment.”

Since being referred to Keaton’s in 2019, our team has enjoyed seeing John, Dean, and their family at our family events and has had the pleasure of serving them with emotional and financial support to alleviate as much stress as possible. To spread joy for the Holidays, John and Dean received many gifts and goodies through our Holiday Adopt-A-Family Program and our recent Holly Jolly event. Thanks to our partnership with Walmart E-Commerce, John and Dean also received their very own special Build-A-Bears.

We look forward to continuing to be a part of John and Dean’s journey and thank their family for allowing us to offer support through our Family Navigator Programs.

Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – Ellora

Months before a clear diagnosis, Ellora was experiencing a loss of appetite, night sweats, and oversleeping. For Ellora, these symptoms were seen as normal for her or seen as natural changes in the growth of a 2-year-old. Eventually, she developed little spots on her hands and unexplained bruises on her body, which the doctors deemed Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), but after seeing an informative TikTok video on the symptoms Ellora was experiencing, her mom’s gut told her it was something more than a bleeding disorder.

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Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – Samerah

14-year-old Samerah, best known as Sam has been battling quite the challenging journey, but with the love and support of her family, friends, and community she has been able to overcome so much. At the very young age of 2 months old, Sam was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis. Neurofibromatosis is not an isolated disorder. It causes several different conditions and can lead to the development of tumors on the brain, spine, and the nerves that send signals between the brain and spinal cord.

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Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – Pedro

Strong and optimistic Keaton’s Kiddo Pedro has a heart for soccer and music, and he absolutely loves Chick-Fil-A! Being a teen at just 14 years old, Pedro was sadly diagnosed with a brain tumor called Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma. Hear about Pedro’s journey from his point of view.

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