When Ashley and Kaylen learned they were having a baby, it was the best moment of their lives. With his big bright eyes and chubby little arms, Sawyer was a happy and healthy boy. Everything was perfect, however at just a few months old, mom noticed something in his abdomen. An ultrasound turned their lives upside down. Their baby boy had cancer. Rhabdomyosarcoma is an aggressive and highly malignant tumor and inside of their six-month-old son was a tumor the size of a grapefruit, squishing his organs and compromising his circulation.
Too large and dangerous for surgery, experts moved quickly with an aggressive, 18-month treatment plan. The plan came with its own risks, but the alternative was unimaginable. Treatment started with 9 weeks of intensive chemotherapy, followed by 28 days of radiation, which required Sawyer to be sedated to ensure he remained very still. This year’s Radiothon will help fund a new monitor that will allow anesthesiologists to keep a watchful eye on kids like Sawyer who have to be sedated for their radiation treatments.
Following radiation was an additional 34 weeks of intensive chemotherapy and then months of maintenance chemo. What mom didn’t know was what a trooper Sawyer would be and, in fact, their source of strength.
Ashley is grateful for all the people her family has encountered at the Alberta Children’s Hospital – from the nurses and doctors to the oncology team and the anesthesiologists and other parents and kids, they have become like a second family. Little Sawyer was able to receive most of his chemotherapy treatments at home thanks to a program called Hospital at Home. And everyone is now happy to report that Sawyer has had THREE checkups and every one has shown him to be cancer free!
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