“Reason this person is a Gold Ribbon Hero: Straight A’s. Nothing was going to stop Alex from getting straight A’s-not even lymphoma. On July 22nd 2013 Alex went into CHOA for an adenoidectomy. When Dr. Sivi Bakthavachalam was performing his surgery, “something did not look right” and he found that it was cancer. In utter shock and disbelief we took Alex home until the diagnosis was confirmed. Alex had lost his “Grammy” eight months before from cancer. He had never met his grandfather, great grandparents, or even his namesake because they died of cancer before Alex was born. So how does a parent tell their child that they too have cancer? In Alex’s mind cancer was a death sentence and, since he was a toddler, dying has always been his biggest fear.
We were called the next day once the diagnosis was confirmed and told to come to the hospital so Alex could be admitted. Now that we had a confirmed diagnosis, the Doctors were able to stage the progression of the cancer and insert a PICC line. A PICC line is a long, thin, hollow tube that a doctor or nurse puts into a vein above the bend of your elbow. This would deliver the chemo and other medicine. His chemo started immediately as his cancer was aggressive and too close to his brain. Thanks to Dr. Bakthavachalam, Alex’s cancer was caught early stage. His course of treatment required chemo directly into his spinal cord in addition to all the other chemo given through his PICC line. We will never forget the kindness, patience and warmth of Dr. Bergsagel, his oncologist, Karen, his Child Life Specialist, and those earth angels they call nurses. They didn’t just take care of Alex, they put their collective arms around our whole family and they were (and still are) the glue that keeps us together.
Imagine, just for a moment, being 15, getting ready to start 10th grade nearly bald and with tubes coming out of your arm knowing you have cancer. Knowing that “triple taps” into his spine, weekly blood draws and chemo were going to be how he spent what should have been one of the most exciting times of his life.
He did not complain and he did not stay home from school. He held his fuzzy head high and went about living his life. “We just have to keep moving forward Mom. We can’t change the past or what’s happening now. We just have to keep moving forward.” This was the wisdom coming from my 15 year old.
Alex studied while hospitalized even when they came in to change his chemo bags. He just kept moving forward and he got his straight A’s.” – Carvotta