Larry and his doctors fight his leukemia head on

Feb. 7, 2014

The patient: Larry, 8

The diagnosis: Leukemia

Larry’s story: During the 2011 holiday season, Larry’s mom noticed he didn’t seem himself, and was very lethargic. They took him to his pediatrician and demanded a blood test, figuring maybe he had a virus. Just six hours later they found themselves checking him into The University of Arizona Medical Center - Diamond Children’s, where they were told he had leukemia. Child Life Specialists explained to Larry and his family what leukemia is and how chemotherapy would help him. They used different colored jelly beans to make it as easy to understand. Larry often had to stay in the hospital for a week or two at a time, the longest stretch being 32 days. When Larry began chemotherapy the drugs had to be injected it into his arm, but eventually a port was installed in his chest that made blood work and medical procedures more comfortable for him.  He’s in remission now, but won’t be determined cancer free until at least April 13, 2015 — a date he knows by heart and proudly shares.

In his words: When I found out I was sick, I was scared. I thought I might have it forever. When I was really feeling sick, I couldn’t really see my friends or play any sports. I think my mom has the hardest time with me having leukemia. The thing I remember the most about the hospital is getting poked in the arm. But I had surgery to get my port, and then it wasn’t so bad. The doctors at UAMC are very nice, they helped me get better. And they have these workers hired just to play with you! They brought me games when I was bored. I’m in remission now, and can play sports again!

In mom’s words: When Larry was diagnosed, the team could see we were like a deer in the headlights, and immediately took the fear out of us by saying: “We’re going to win.” We were at Diamond Children’s every day for nine months, sometimes inpatient other times just a few hours, and every single day we were met with that reassurance. You have hope because it’s your own child, but to know that the caregivers have hope as well as confidence in what they’re doing—that’s the greatest gift. 

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